Am finally losing it.
I really thought I could keep up with the charade my persona displays in the everyday here in the Swedish Highlands. This charade, this coraza or core that shields me from the rest of society is slowly showing signs of fractures, small fissures here and there that allow the Stranger outside in. Not by my own devices but by the force of the everyday. Think of Superman. Just a little piece of cryptonite is enough to cripple him. I walk on cryptonite now. I am strong away from home but I have been away so long now that somehow I am becoming more Swedish than I am willing to admit. I don’t really like it nor am I specially interested in not becoming one.
I have learned to manipulate all the social codes to pass off as a Swede. I won’t list the unfathomable antics one has to go through to more or less show signs of ‘integration’ or ‘assimilation’, it suffices to say that I defer with no great effort to these social conducts in order to be left alone. When I manipulate these codes I have a goal, in this case, the goal is to keep at bay Swedes. But not entirely for the purposes above mentioned but also as well for disguise purposes. This is not something that I do with a conscious intention to acquire for the sake of profesionalization; in fact, it isn’t as of recent that I notice that I do these antics with intended effects. Before it was mere curiosity. I observed my position in society and the reactions the Swedes reciprocated with and then observed at large to see if my initial observations were indeed true.
Like I said, I did not begin to do this consciously. I simply observed a pattern. A recurrent event is hard not to notice and I wrote down these incidents in my daily life. To give an example, I recall quite easily how Swedes initially saw in me some sort of foreignness and when addressing me spoke English. But then, after a few months stay Swedes began addressing me in Swedish. This amazed me very much me, taking pride in my identity and all, felt quite offended at this new view the Swede had of me. Not that they did not see I was a foreigner but that somehow I radiated a swedishness unbeknownst to me. Another one is corporal. Swedish people detest the way Americans walk. That is, of course, in Sweden, am sure they have nothing against this body behavior in US proper. Eitherways, I, for all intents and purposes, am an American in that respect. I walk straight and very much goal minded or determined if you will. The Swedes though won’t cut me slack for this. They pointed out very early in my arrival that I was somehow being ‘cocky’. So I learned to walk relaxed and began to observe, not intentionally but on the background so to speak and adequately adapted or acquired this behavior to achieve a purpose. So these days I normally walk with my head bent downwards and stare at the ground I walk. This seems to be acceptable to Swedes. Because as of yet I’ve not received recrimination for it and find that most Swedes themselves partake int his odd sort of sauntering. At most people ask me if am ok or they somehow go about making assumptions that am deep in thought. Which brings me to the last observation, like I said there isn’t much space to spare. I am rather silent. Silence in Sweden isn’t a problem as it would be in the US. It is very much accepted as a social conduct. So I am rather quiet to achieve this adaptation Swedes seek in me, in other words, I do this to achieve a goal. That goal being to appease Swedish demands on me to comport myself as Swedes do.
The problem is that these behaviors are putting a strain on my already fragmented identity. Slowly but surely am displaying loads of Swedish behavior that it is unacceptable to my own standards.
’nuff said there.