A ride back home

It’s been twelve months since I arrived to Sweden, and now, when I’m all packed and ready to leave I’m writing my first post about my experience in Växjö.

Isn’t that something?

This particular story I’m about to tell you happened in December, at 21:50 precisely. I know that because it was after basketball practice, I was heading to the Villa with my bike and it was incredibly cold.

You see, the basketball court is about 15 minutes biking from the Villa. The shortest way is going through a maze of look-alike streets followed by a good amount of “right and left” turns through the forest.

You must understand one thing; here, in the middle of winter, with no sign of Sun and with all those trees in the middle, getting lost is easier than breathing.

That’s why I always use Google maps, I tape my phone to the handlebar, and I start paddling.

I could still see the lights of the basketball court when my phone dropped dead. Mediterranean device can’t handle Scandinavian weather

So, there I was in the middle of the darkness, alone, with a bike that could perfectly be Fred Flintstones’.

I first thought, and then I said, well, I know there’s a right-turn at some point following that path, and then I could figure out how to survive the “housing maze” with the help of the light streets. the challenging part was to know exactly where that damn “at some point” was.

I kept paddling. 3 minutes, 4 minutes, I didn’t see any right-turn. 5 minutes, 6 minutes… 7 minutes.

I was waiting for that spasm in my gut to tell me “This is the way”, but there was no sign of spasms in my belly, only cramps in my calves.

That was it, I could foresee the next morning’s Newspaper front page: “Catalan eunuch dies attached to a decomposed bike”, following “Authorities claim he first died out of confusion and then froze to death”. I was literally seeing the newspaper printers going at full speed when all of a sudden, I saw it. There it was, the sign I was looking for that would save me from an embarrassing death.

There’s a bridge in the middle of the forest that literally has no function; there’s a paved road on one side and just next to it a wooden bridge. I remembered that the right-turn was just about that stupid bridge.

Once I reached that point the rest of the way back to the Villa revealed itself to me with a glowing white light, like Mother Mary would reveal herself to a good Christian.

I was saved!

And then it’s when it hit me: there’s no greater fear in this world than feeling lost. Feeling you have nowhere to go.

That’s why we crave so much to find a home, to feel safe, to feel protected from darkness, loneliness and yes, also genital amputation due to extreme coldness.

Once we feel we belong somewhere, everything is much easier.

You are right, probably this story could have been told in half a paragraph. I thank you if you have made it so far but I wanted to make my point.

It took me 3 months to feel I had a new home. Maybe it will take you 2 days, maybe 5 months, and I want you to know when you feel more lost, something unexpected (like a useless bridge in the middle of a forest) will turn this mysterious place into something you will call home.

That’s why now that this journey has come to an end, I see; that I’m not going back home. I’m leaving it.

Isn’t that something?

September 2023,  Guillem Muné – ESC Volunteer at Öppna Kanalen Kronoberg 2023/2024