Maia Hirasawa: Gothenburg
Ten years ago this week, I lost my grandfather. It wasn't a shock as he had been ill for some time, but having looked after him for a good few years the aftermath of his passing and the nasty physical minutiae of having to sort through his affairs and possessions found me oddly rudderless. Over thirty but still living like a first-year undergraduate, staggering from work to pub to off-license and then home again to the house in less-than-sunny Harringay that I shared with friends. Lather, rinse, repeat - and if I felt any pang of regret or doubt at the aimlessness of it all it didn't last long, especially if my housemate was mixing one of his magic G&Ts.
As I write these words, I can hear my two elder children outside. They are arguing over the correct deployment of a hula-hoop. The sunlight, refracted through the leaves both in-and-outside the window, dapples the walls with faint, apt, reminders of yellow and green. This is no idyll - the baby is screaming and the hula discussion will escalate into war at any second, but it's bliss. And I owe it to Gothenburg, a city that had it been suggested to me a decade ago that I would choose to visit, let alone emigrate to, would have elicited a shrug at best.
But there's magic to this town, to this country. I know most miss it, but then that's often the case. Our eyes can't always see the light to which they are most acclimatised. I should be thankful for that, at least, otherwise Gothenburg couldn't have given me someone to love, to lead me back here. In the corner of the room, I see an old ghost smiling. From the hallway I hear the sound of a hula hoop clattering off a hard object, possibly a cranium. I hear the sun is shining in London today, but I don't care. Gothenburg, I really owe you.
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