About a year ago on somewhat of a lark, I decided it’d be fun to switch things up! I had recently failed the Whole30 (#NoRegrets) and was really kicking myself for not making more “me time.” My cool friend Astrid invited me out to this Swedish hippie retreat filled with flowers and dancing. What can I say? She was vague about the details! But Astrid’s always been super mysterious and sometimes says funny things like, “You trust everyone,” “I’ve never seen you lock the doors,” or “You don’t notice details.” LOL.
Now, even with Astrid’s unclear description of the week’s itinerary, I was raring for some fun! She said the festival only occurred every ninety years. So I knew it was going to be EPIC. If this thing was anything like Coachella or Burning Man, it was guaranteed to be my kind of scene.
When I arrived, I barely even noticed the jet lag. Everything was as promised, only better! The beautiful green grass was perfectly contrasted with all the wonderful white linen garments. Everyone was smiling, and those Swedish boys do not disappoint in their looks or hospitality. Immediately, we were offered mushrooms!
That evening, things kind of took a serious turn. The lady who was running the festival said there’d be many ceremonies to come. Jokingly, I shouted, “BORING!” But for some reason, no one laughed. Astrid later explained that it was probably best if I didn’t say anything during ceremonies, meal times, or free periods. I think she was embarrassed, and that made me feel majorly guilty.
Believe me when I say that I tried to follow her guidelines. I didn’t say anything else for the rest of the night! Even when they showed us our living quarters. And, not to sound privileged here, but the shower situation was a no-go. I quickly learned that when they said everything is a “shared experience,” they meant we were expected to share one big shower like in middle school. I just smiled and closed my eyes. This is what trying new things looks like, right?
The creepy barn paintings on the wall were a little too extra for me. I was placed under a mural of a young blonde girl whose mouth was sewn shut while she was slowly being lit on fire by laughing children. I asked if I could switch beds to a different aesthetic but the lady in charge just said: “No, special bed just for you.”
I wish I could say things improved after that, but the next day at breakfast, we had to wait to eat until a pair of crusty Baby Boomers decided it was time. My stomach was giving some major growls, and Astrid shot me a mean look. SORRY.
After the old folks finally ate, I asked when it would be time to run around in the field again and get high, but they instead took us to another long ceremony. There was a lot of talking, someone beat a drum, and then… I don’t want to sound negative here, but people were literally dying. This would normally upset me, but these were the people who made me wait to eat!
At this point, I looked to Astrid, who was only staring straight ahead. I was like, “Hey Astrid, can we talk?” She said no, not until after the ceremony was completed. When she finally spoke with me later, she just said, “They were past their prime years. It was time to say goodbye.” I thought about this. “Like in a YOLO kind of way?” She smiled and nodded.
I was trying not to be judgmental, so I made the most of my vacay. Over the next couple of days, I genuinely tried not to be “the ugly American tourist.” I drank their murky wine, I danced in the nauseating pole event, and I even helped them murder and disembowel a bear. #SorryBear.
My only consolation was Mikael, a Swede with blue eyes. He said that he understood why I was frightened. He even made me a creepy child’s drawing that kind of looked like me. I felt seen.
I was hoping the festival would wrap up soon and we’d head home when they asked me to stay. Well, they didn’t so much ask as they said, “There is nowhere else to go,” while carrying one of those big hammers.
I didn’t like that vibe at all, but Mikael just took my hand and said I could trust them, and that “Tonight we would all be one.” I was excited that our romance was heating up, so I just nodded even though I didn’t understand what he meant. Later on, I did. It was definitely not what I had ever fantasized about, but let’s just say it makes for a unique anecdote!
All told, I’ve been here for about a year. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily going that well, but I guess I’ve learned some stuff too. You get perspective when you see a tent with familiar faces go up in flames. But they were smiling faces with flowers in their eyes, so that’s kind of something.
I guess I would just compare it to this one time I joined LA Fitness on a lark, but then couldn’t afford it, and needed to back out. They wouldn’t let me and I went into major debt. It’s kind of like that, but maybe a little more serious? I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining though. The fields are still very green here!