Not that I was interested in that particular TV-show. Even so with no special plans for Friday night it seemed like a good idea to visit a friend who invited me to watch the show I liked. Somewhat unwillingly, I stepped out into the cold night and immediately loved the sensation of crispy air against the cheeks, the dark sky, the silence hanging over the neighbourhood and the prospect of walking alone with my thoughts for at least a quarter of an hour. The street was empty – on Friday night not much happens in our neighbourhood.
Not much happens in Sweden in general. There is little place for contact outside one’s social circle. Talking to strangers is restricted to a brief exchange of remarks at the train station when the train is running late or polite smiles when strangers’ eyes meet. I have not been outside the country for a year and started missing the spontaneity of encounters that often comes when people find themselves in between countries and social norms of their cultures. Surprising encounters happen somewhere else, and most definitely not in our quiet area where on a Friday night you are more likely to run into a hurrying on some urgent business rabbit than another human being.
Right before entering the dark alley behind the housing area, I was stopped by the fish lying in the middle of the sidewalk as if it nothing better to do on a Friday night. The first thing that I noticed was how its grey silky body was nicely contrasting against the covered in frost surface of the sidewalk, icy crystals on it reflecting the light from the street lamps and making it look like a bed of dimonds. I also noticed how perfectly aligned it was with the border of the sidewalk. For a few moments there my mind went blank, just as the expression of the single eye that was staring upward. I looked at the fish, the fish was making eye contact with nothingness, the moon was observing the silent scene from a safe distance.
And I have felt
The presence that disturbes me with the joy…
Wordsworth, Tinturn Abbey (1798)