Wednesday, June 26, 2002

"How do you find it living here?" asked F., the freelance art director, as we sat at a table or under a tent or on a rock sometime during midsummer.

After three and a half years living in Stockholm, people still ask me whether I like it here in Sweden. I always answer with a yes. I like it because I'm happily married, no doubt. And I like it because I have an interesting job and a life of my own outside my marriage. These are probably the three biggest factors.

But I also like it because Swedish culture agrees with me, or rather I agree with Swedish culture. Which is not to say that I am really a part of the culture. I feel rather outside the culture, but not in a dismaying or alienated way; I'm just not a Swede, and never will be. In fact, I feel outside American culture as well by this point. I'm a man without a culture, but I think being a homosexualist rather prepares one for living outside a culture (regardless of whether one believes in a gay culture or not, the vast majority of gay people live much of their lives as outsiders in many key ways).

Being without a culture certainly allows me to be lazy - I don't feel I have enough of a toehold in the culture to be able to make accurate and fair judgments about political issues, for example, and so I'm not burdened with having to make the effort of finding out more or trying to change things one way or another, something I most definitely felt when I had a culture. It makes me sound like a bum, though, doesn't it?

So, how do l find it living here?

Well, it's like, uh, life. (Apologies to Lorrie Moore.)

The Swedish phrase for the day is svårt att säga. It means difficult to say.

- by Francis S.

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