mystampedpassport.com
Sweden Stories: Chapter 2 - My Stamped Passport
“Okay, I’ll start, but you guys better join in,” the kid from L.A. walked up to the machine. Shuffling through a few of the options before he settled on one and grabbed the mic. The first chords of All the Small Things strung out, ringing in the beginning of the night. My heart anxiously beating as I planned out my grand excuse. Sore throat? No. Headache? Maybe. I could always just go with the truth: terrible stage fright? Definitely not. “Taylor, let’s go,” somewhere amidst my scheming, I had gotten lost in the music and interesting performances of others. I looked over at my friend. The temporary amnesia had worn off and only now did I understand what mortal danger I was in. Okay, call me a drama queen. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love karaoke, I’m just more of a sing on the sidelines kinda person. Trust me it’s what’s best for all of us. I could feel my mind screaming no, the warning sirens blaring as my feet betrayed me, walking me straight up to the microphone. “Come on,” I coaxed two of my friends up. My fear slowly subsided as I read my tattoo again, Be you bravely. Okay, let’s do this thing. The steady bass of the drums pumped, the spotlight shined bright on me as the crowd went wild. Well, not actually, it was more like me and three of my friends screeching the lyrics as everyone else sang along, but hey it was a ton of fun. *** “Happy Sweden National Day!” I smiled at my roommate. Sure we had stayed out late the night before dancing, but I was ready for the perfect day off and Upsala offered exactly that. An hour later and we had exited the train station and were walking along a river. After an impromptu photo shoot on a picturesque bridge and mouth-watering risotto, we stumbled across a park. Everywhere you looked people were laying down blankets and setting out their picnic baskets. We settled on a shaded spot under a willow tree that offered the perfect view of the river. We watched the paddleboarders peacefully float by. Okay, if I’m being completely honest, we watch the paddleboarders struggle. And by watched, I mean laughed, like the horrible people we are. Mascara ran down my face as one tried desperately to wiggle themselves back up only to end up plummeting back into the water. Hey, what can I say it’s the little things in life, right? Yeah, I’m probably going to have bad karma for that. When my mascara had left my face in blotchy raccoon spots and our conscience decided to return we headed off to our next destination: Upsala University. It took me about .03 seconds to decide that I wanted to transfer there, and another .03 seconds to realize that my roommates would probably drag my corpse back to FSU, and I would miss them too much. So instead I settled with getting lost in the moment, so lost that we almost accidentally walked into the middle of a crowded opera show. Hearing the applause thunder out from inside, we realized that it wasn’t just a girl practicing. We took our hand off the door handle and headed to the closest park. We settled in the grass, excitedly planning our weekend trip until Tianna let out a shriek. Turns out our karma came in the form of an oddly shaped bug who was set on getting revenge for the paddleboarder. Taking the hint, we headed back to the train station. Up above a hot air balloon faded into the orange haze of the setting sun. *** The base beat through my headphones as I walked through the exhibition my eyes scanning the room hungrily, my lips curling into a smile. Despite my boss recommending it the only thing I knew about the Fotograski was that it was a photography gallery. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but it definitely wasn’t this. It was like I had stepped through a portal. Black and white photography, my favorite type of art, encompassed me. I walked through each exhibit torn between excitedly rushing off to the next piece or spending hours staring at one. I opted for a combo, spending the next two hours wandering around and getting lost in the art, only emerging when the angry grumble of my stomach reminded me I hadn’t eaten yet. *** “This is so cute!” I gawked. Surrounding the park were food trucks that looked like they were straight out of Pinterest. People shuffled around carrying all different types of food: poke bowls, quesadillas, lobster sandwiches, empanadas you name it. Live music flowed from the stage, as I took in my options. I ended up stuffing my face with a delicious tofu poke bowl and some sort of insanely good wrap. We had planned to go paddleboarding, but the low rumble of the dark clouds hinted that mother nature had different plans. So we did what any hipster does when it rains: go vintage shopping! After a few failed attempts we stumbled on, well google searched and walked to, the cutest vintage shop in existence. Scanning over the row of jean jackets, I reminded myself that two jean jackets was enough, and made my way to the pants. I shuffled through their grunge collection of trousers, wishing I could afford to buy every pair. My self-restraint was put to the test as I browsed the selection of sweaters. I eyed an oversized hunter green sweater, wondering how many sweaters were too many for a Floridian, before realizing whatever the number was I had far exceeded it. I headed back to the train station, my wallet unharmed, the rain slowly drizzling down. Related