2015: gyllene biljetten.

Tomtebloss and champagne
“The same procedure as last year?”
Flashes of daylight and perpetual nightfall
You knew you were meant to be here.

And swollen with rose-colored appreciation
For this place you’ve grown to adore
You vowed to yourself that this would be the year
You wouldn’t feel so foreign anymore.

It was the only place you ever called home
So you promised in clandestine tones
That you’d get yourself back to Sweden
Even if it wore you down to the bones.

You had to leave, to make a plan
To make all the pieces fit
You had to go back to that home on paper
That tore away at you bit by bit.

You ran off to California, where
You could color another shade of yourself
Sun-soaked days and stress-free nights
With the past on the highest shelf.

And then, you cut all ties
At your own, iron-tipped behest
You could feel that Swedish frost roll in
From all the way out West.

And it worked there for a while
But you sensed something was amiss
Your complacency came slinking back in
Your mind dulled in its restlessness.

California was a dressing room
In life’s trendy boutique store
Where you tried on other versions of yourself
To forget the favorite jeans of before.

As the seasons changed, so did you
Your optimism choking, stalling out
Life was well and nothing was wrong
But the inexplicable poltergeist of doubt.

When the corners of your brain fell blunt
And California’s carbonation fell flat
You ignored the itch as long as you could
Before understanding your need to scratch.

Your patience was rock-solid
Yet you found it engulfed in flames
By silly little boys teasing you
With their even sillier little games.

And stammering through a jaw clenched shut
You managed to believe once again
“I am worth so much more than this”
More than the mediocrity settling on your skin.

“You always find a way,” she’d insist
Her voice — still — on repeat in your head
And it was into Stockholm’s arms you ran
When you found out she was dead.

The finality of it all struck you
With a sharpness so intense
Yet prose morphs into poetry
When the words take on past tense.

Johnny Cash crooned low
And San Francisco crawled alongside
There was a misting over the windshield
Setting the hues of that last ride.

And so it was with a measured passion
And a reluctance held so tight
That you got back into that boxing ring
And you began, once again, to fight.

You knew your path was always different
From the first moment you could comply
“You didn’t survive all those atrocities
Just to sit, pay taxes, and die.”

You couldn’t stay in the States, you realized
After your brain became nice and fried
No one there could give you what you need
And you’d resent anyone who tried.

And here you are again
In the city so far south
You’ve got black paste on your eyelashes
You’ve got red paint on your mouth.

You’re walking down the icy street
With your champagne and tomtebloss
You’re headed to a party far, far away
From that star-spangled albatross.

And only four short days ago
The pins and needles dug into your feet
As you trudged that road of uncertainty
Facing (once again) inevitable defeat.

Now you’ve got the contract in your hand
Signed, sealed, delivered, it’s yours
It still feels like an ethereal daydream
Like you’ll get snagged by a hook on the door.

But, can’t you see, you’ve made it?
Can’t you realize what you’ve done?
You’ve transformed a dream into reality
You looked defeat in the face and won.

You’re applying for a visa
You’re jumping out of your skin
You’re going back to Sweden
But you don’t have to leave again.

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