After a pretty quiet, uneventful weekend (and Monday!) – the Viking worked mostly and I enjoyed the sunshine and thought things over (with the help of the amazing comments here – thank you!) – I’ve decided to let things be… for now. Until I can feel more sure of whether the stuff I’m struggling with (the Three Headed Monster being jerks and the Viking being secretive) is personal and deliberate as opposed to me misreading normal Swedish behavior, I’m going to just take a step back and not make any major moves or decisions.
It’s a weird feeling not being able to trust my own instincts. I think I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been pretty much on my own since my Grandma started to get sick just after I left high school, and I’m not some kind of scrappy, wise cracking street kid or anything, but I’ve always been pretty good at reading people and judging situations.
I guess, though, when you have the context of the culture you grew up in, you can more easily judge certain behavior to equal “jerk”, “untrustworthy”, “get out of here right now”. Suddenly, that… baseline, I guess… is gone, and I feel like an alien starting from scratch figuring out people and social situations. I guess I am literally that – a legal alien. And now I’ll have that Sting song in my head all day, and so will anyone reading this – sorry!
What’s particularly weird about it all is that there’s a kind of facade of familiarity. I guess if I’d hiked deep into the mountains or jungle to live with a primitive culture, I’d be pretty aware that I had a lot to learn and to keep on my toes. But just how different Swedes are has taken me by surprise, because, they may be taller, more beautiful and effortlessly stylish than your average American (seriously, is there a law against wearing sweats on the streets here?), but they go to movies, they drink coffee, they talk about the same TV shows and listen to the same music. You can’t help but feel that the baseline isn’t so far off… and then when it is, it’s kind of startling.
I’m having a vague memory from maybe 7th grade social studies, about an explorer – I think British – who went into the jungle to study native peoples and write books about their culture. I’m getting this vision – I don’t know if it was a picture from a text book or a visual I created – of this bearded, dorky British scientist dude, in glasses and ironed khakis crouching at the edge of a tribal village carefully taking notes and then writing up conclusions in his notebooks by candlelight in his tent as lions roar in the distance. That’s kind of how I feel right now. Minus the beard and khakis and lions. I feel like I need to switch off taking things personally until I understand better the context of everything… now where did I put my glasses?