Margereta, Monica och jag (me) – today
I’ve just had the most marvelous two day visit with a friend from university days in Sweden. We hadn’t seen each other in 35 years. She came with her friend Margareta. Arran was at its most splendid, perfect summer weather, mountains looking like spiritual beings, a chance to eat and drink at my favourite restaurant and cafes and the sea sparkling in the sunshine. My friends swam briefly in the sea at the newly reclaimed Brodick Beach. I watched.
Shortly after they arrived, my brain did its not so familiar switch to Swedish and I relished remembering words I didn’t think I knew any more. Apart from the chance to speak the language again, their visit also brought back memories of living in Stockholm four years and then the move to Linkøping to move away from city living.
Stockholm certainly had its good points. My favourite places, visited not too long ago, being Waldemarsudde and Blå Porten cafe which just happened to be next door in Djurgården to Handarbetets Vanner the traditional handicraft school where I learned to weave.
Apart from learning the textile crafts that eventually led to setting up my studio on Arran, I realised that in my soul there will always be a person who is just a little bit Swedish. I learned to be methodical and academic in my thinking and in my approach to learning the crafts, I learned to be proud of being Scottish and to update traditional textile skills to reflect the past but take their place in present day living. I learned to respect my body and my femininity and not feel ashamed to swim in the sea with no swimsuit (Why can I still not do that on Brodick beach, swim that is, let alone without a suit).
I learned to be a good parent, without giving up my own ambitions and to raise my daughter to respect her own being – even after we came back to Scotland.
There were frustrating times and very sad times during the five years I lived there and in the end I didn’t want to stay because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life being a foreigner, with my daughter becoming ever more Swedish. But on the whole, I’m so glad I agreed to go there in the end and will always honour that young woman in me who had a chance to grow and develop in ways that would otherwise not have been possible.