Dream in Uppsala
“All this is like a dream, and I never dream.”
Javier Otálora, in the story Ulrike by Jorge Luis Borges
I just woke up. It’s still dawn, but morning already dominates the large window of my room. Through that window, from my bed, I can only see a huge tree alley made of a very varied range of greens that in winter probably turn white. I can’t go back to sleep anymore.
I remember everything with striking clarity.
As if it were another saga of the Flateyjarbók, our myth-like encounter took place on the banks of the Fyrisån River.
—What were you doing? —I asked, although I already knew it.
—Nothing special, I was walking alone —she gave me a space that reality would never have offered me.
—Like me. Maybe we can do it together —I used Schopenhauer’s joke cited by Javier Otálora.
We walked. Just a few meters after I met her, I knew I was in love. Until that moment, I had never been in love.
Thanks to one of those reasons that only take place in a dream, I was able to know that everything would be defined just few hours later, at midnight. However, it was not just a matter of waiting this moment, but giving a form of free will to this shapeless mass of inevitable time.
Almost without noticing, we toured the Stadsträdgården and back, in the height, we could see the Slott, that is, the castle. It was pink, with friendly and stuffed towers, worthy of the purest and finest fantasy. She could not refuse my challenge and we ran to it. Her youth and training were not sufficient to defeat me, maybe because I was a man or maybe because in dream utopias, love always triumphs.
While we regained our breath, I was certain that an unexpected kiss was not forbidden. I held back because, despite the unmistakable security that mutual attraction produces when it emerges, it was still unacceptably soon. I felt I knew her from the remote times of Ýmir, but the time we have shared was still counted in minutes.
She was thirsty, although I did not think it was due to the race, but to something more fundamental and long lasting. I felt that she was like that from the moment we met or, maybe, even much earlier, perhaps always. In the center of the Slott’s courtyard there was a fountain. We drank, but mostly she drank. Very much, as if breathing water instead of air.
We left the Slott and walked along its park, the Slottparken, as so many times the old King Jans must have done. The solitude that surrounded us was absolute and highlighted the closeness that grew between us just like the days become longer during the Scandinavian spring. A few brown rabbits, with black and white strokes on their big ears, played on the left margin of the park.
She had the rare habit of slowing her pace until she stopped and confronted me, while we continued talking. Maybe she did not know that, in the South, that delay was an invitation to kiss. When we reached the end of the road, some bells began to ring. Instinctively, I searched for the Domkyrka, always imposing and visible, but I could not see it. She stopped once more.
I spoke about a desire, the park, solitude, bells, my anxious chest, about the vain attempt to contain myself. I wanted to kiss her, but she stopped me by looking down and didn’t say a word. Our intimacy, which I was so much feared to crack, became stronger.
As if it were the first time, she confessed me that she was thirsty. I looked at her totally confused for indecipherable time.
We left the park. A walk with its own life, guided by something superior to our wills, led us to the center of the city. All the people who were not in the park were there. We discovered a bar that I had never seen before, despite my meticulous knowledge of the city. On the central table, there was a large quantity of bottles of water, free, as if the responsible of that lost-in-my-memory place had known that she and her thirst would soon arrive. With strange naturalness, she drank devotedly and seemed to be filled with a certain calm that I guessed too fragile.
The night was still disguised as the evening. In front of the bar, the river was flowing, the same as before, and there was a delicate bridge whose lateral stands received the protection of countless multicolored flowers. We went there, as if we were trying to make that image a part of our memory.
In silence, we leaned on the bridge rail next to the flowers. From that vicinity with the perfumed air, we saw how unusually clean sky was fading away. The words would only have added imprecision to that moment as clear as the firmament. We looked each other in the eyes and it was obvious that we understood everything. We smiled. I wanted to kiss her, again, but she looked down and stopped me.
Under our feet, the river passed in a way that reminded me of time and, a little further on, formed a small waterfall with a song that also made its contribution to embellish a past that was still present. A bit further away, there was the most improbable: a large number of Swedes singing, hugging and laughing.
We left the bridge and the city center. People, just as they had suddenly appeared in the opposite direction, disappeared completely. We were very much alone again.
It was almost midnight. My heart knew it.
We took a seat, facing each other, on a bench lying on the sidewalk of a large bookstore. The books exposed in the window shop were undiscovered. The bench was long and had a sculpture that adorned one end. It was an elk, unless one stopped to examine it.
Tempted by the analysis trap, I also discovered that all elements of this model containing us had a suspicious prolixity: the tiles of the path, the laces, the lights, the bench, the young tree next to the bench, the dozens of bicycles stationed, in short, each of the objects that surrounded us.
Several endless rows of equal windows looked at us from the opposite facades. In each window, located in the center, there was a whitelit lamp that projected a dim light.
The last flashes of the sun still floated over the city. The dying clarity displayed a romantic mantle of warm shadows, whose projection seemed to be the work of Freyja herself.
There was not a trace of wind, everything was frozen. I felt as if I were inside a photography. The silence was also complete. I could hear each of the slightest variations of her beautiful voice without any effort.
The cold, the eternal cold, just wasn’t there.
I felt that she, in her Nordic way, was trying to get closer. Once again, I wanted to kiss her. She stopped me, but this time she didn’t look down. The silence seemed to me as a request for help.
—Can I know why? —I asked, contradicting my deepest convictions about how to face a rejection— . You can tell me ‘I don’t feel attracted to you’, the ultimate reason, and that, in fact, will be a relief for me.
She looked down and, as befitted on that land, thought of her answer.
—Another love —she deprived me of the relief and at the same time deprived herself of being a Valkyrie.
—Are you going to kiss me? —I insisted on finding a Valhalla that would put to an end this uncertainty.
—Not today —trying perhaps to postpone that small death with an apple of Iðunn. Instead, I felt her response like a sharp ax buried in my heart because tomorrow is often too late.
I took her hand. She didn’t let it go.
The bells rang again. It was midnight.
From that moment, the end —or rather, the breakup after the end— speeded up as a free fall, to the point of not being able to remember it.
I am alone, sitting in my bed, looking towards the window that multiplies the greenery. Everything was so unusual, so magical. Everything, except the pain. That pain was, still is and will always be too real.
Translated by me with the help of Branka Milisic, branka123[at]yahoo.com
Original version (in spanish)