I went backpacking to Europe in the summer of 1998, which not only seems like it was forever ago, it WAS forever ago. I kept a journal from that trip and I re-read each entry on that day to see what I was doing on this day in 1998. It's almost like going back into a time machine to a time I remember, but yet, I hardly recall being that person. That kid from 1998 is long gone, having been replaced by this worn down man now writing these thoughts to you.
At this time in August, I was in Stockholm, Sweden. I had gotten there via Copenhagen and arrived alone and in the rain. I checked into a hostel and I met many people and during my first couple nights in Stockholm, I fell in love with the people and the beautiful city it truly was.
I met a girl (Martina) at a concert in a park downtown and had an immediate connection to her, and through her, I met many of her friends. I was invited to a very traditional party that Swedes have in August where they eat crayfish and bread while drinking Snapps. The guy throwing the party (Mathias) welcomed me with open arms to his house and his party. All night long we sang, drank and ate. I met everyone at the party and it felt like I had known these people my entire life. We were laughing, telling stories well into the wee hours of the morning. I was amazed that these people would take me in as well as they did. What a fantastic night!! I still have pictures of it to remind me of how friendly these Swedes were.
When I left Sweden a few days later, they took me out and we had another amazing night together. I had a connection with these people that I knew just didn't happen every day, and I embraced it. I would like to think that they had the same feeling towards me, and when I left Sweden for the final time, I knew I would never forget these people...
But when I returned to Canada, I became entrenched in my day to day life, and you slowly forget all these moments that you experienced and vow to never forget. So I made an effort to keep in touch with Peter, Martina, Mathias and the other Swedes that I befriended by a chance encounter on a beautiful August night in 1998.
And here it is 2010, and we are all grown up, well past our prime of life. And I have been lucky enough to watch them all have children of their own, and visit them over the years. We still call and email and talk just like it was that night all those years ago. Some experience that spans 12 years of friendship eh?
So, to all my Swedish friends out there, and you all know who you are, thank you for taking me under your wings while in your beautiful country, and thank you more importantly for your love and friendship over all of these years. Have a great Crayfish season!!