A pet named Fiffi

About getting a pet.

To be perfectly honest we did not find our pet – she found us as so often is the case. It was a cool and grey December day three years ago, when she simply came along and changed our lives forever. This two-legged devil (we were not very fond of her in the beginning) put us in a soft carrier and together we traveled far to a completely new world.

In the gigantic room where we eventually ended up, we didn’t have to stay locked up in a cage anymore and instead it was the two-legged who set up a fence around her sleeping quarters. To ensure we wouldn’t again be thrown out with the garbage, we hid under the sofa for days, only coming out to play when the two-legged appeared to be sleeping.

Our new kingdom was grand with a big balcony, lots of room to run around, and a good selection of tasty geckos. Since the two-legged kept bringing other yummy food and she had the most fun, feathered and stuffed toys that kept jumping around, we eventually decided to adopt her as our pet. We call her Fiffi.

Out of the two of us, Robyn have always been the first one to courageously explore new things and surroundings, with Batcat tagging along once the coast is clear. So once we had accepted Fiffi, it came as no surprise that it took Robyn approximately five minutes to climb over the fence and into Fiffi’s very comfortable sleeping corner. Batcat however is a little heavier and not as athletic as his sister, so even though he really tried, the fence was just too difficult to climb. After all the fence was more than a meter tall, and he disappointingly found himself left on the outside. This was the exact moment that Batcat discovered his voice. Man is it powerful! Robyn gave him an encouraging smile and Fiffi quickly gave up on caging herself at night so that we could all easily enjoy the comfortable big bed together.

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Back in the days when we both fitted comfortably in the chair.

Our first year with Fiffi was all smooth sailing. As Fiffi was away most weekdays we made a point of telling her about our day when she got back to us. She always replied and after awhile she even learned some basic Cat, though her meows were at times very puzzling to us. Encouraged by this language success we thought for a long time that we would be able to train her so that she might be of more use to us. Batcat was very persistent in trying to making her get him more food, but she seem to not understand at all poor thing. Since we needed her for claw trimming, getting occasional treats, and other essentials we accepted her not just as a pet but as one of us, as family.

But in our second year together, shit really hit the fan. Robyn was the first one to get the notorious cat flu and got so week that when Fiffi lifted her she just hung there like a rag-doll. There was real panic in Fiffi’s eyes and Batcat who was not feeling so well himself couldn’t even make a sound as they all traveled to the Vet. Now, if there was ever a point in our lives where we thought about getting rid of Fiffi, it was now. For ten days straight she kept bringing us back to the horrible Vet several times per days, and at home she forced us to eat disgusting medicine. As you all know, being sick is no fun so we were all in a terrible mood, hating each other and the world.

One night Robyn got sick so bad that she had to stay over night at the Vet, in a horrible little metal cage with lots of scary things around. A tube was inserted in one of her paws and as she simply couldn’t get it off, she stubbornly refused to eat or drink. Batcat couldn’t do a thing to save her, and to avoid meeting the same horrid fate he held on to his carrier bag with all his claws, screaming at the top of his lungs as soon as the Vet approached trying to lift him out of there. For Fiffi, this was clearly confusing as she had spent a good fifteen minutes and a lot of candy trying to get him into the carrier when they were still at home.

Anyhow, when Fiffi came back to the Vet the next morning Robyn had effectively scared all the other green clothed two-legged’s by being as difficult as possible. After loudly scolding Fiffi for leaving her in hell, Robyn managed to convince Fiffi that she had to bring her home again. And so begun the long nights where Fiffi sat watching over the shivering little ball of fur that was Robyn, whilst Batcat made aggressive moves out of jealousy or pms or whatever. This is the period in our life that we in the family refer to as the Dark Ages.

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Batcat pretends that things are fine.

Not very long after the Dark Ages came the Big Journey. We knew something fishy was going on, because we had been given new strange houses to play and rest in, and Fiffi kept packing away her things. Never a good sign! One evening in May we once again found ourselves travelling far far away. No matter how much we begged Fiffi to take us home again, she just smiled with sad eyes asked us to try to stay calm. It was very clear that Fiffi herself was far from calm, so we ignored her pleads and kept shouting at her.

Getting out of the cab, we saw that we had reached a huge hall where there were countless two-legged’s walking around with suitcases. Robyn was anxiously shivering, breaking out into an oily sweat and basically looked like she was coming down sick again. Batcat was crawled up in the corner of his fairly big cage intensely wishing he was somewhere else where he could better hide. The last we saw of Fiffi was her worried face and then there was a very long dark but fairly comfortable Big Journey, until we found ourselves reunited with Fiffi in a much colder and dryer place.

As it turns out, we had moved to Sweden. We assumed this had something to do with the general health of Fiffi. You see, for quite some time Fiffi had been sick each time we hung out, sniffling, itching and tearing. It is never easy to let a pet go, but of course we must consider her health and well being first and foremost.

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Robyn gets snugly with Fiffi.

With this new arrangement in Sweden, we don’t really get to see Fiffi any longer but we got something else that rocks our socks: a Swedish farm! We used to think our old house was a kingdom, but this new life is nothing short of amazing. In just three months we both doubled in weight (Batcat swears it’s all muscles) and we both grew so much more fur that we started longing for the cold winter in this exotic land. We are simply loving our new outdoors life, and we are free to hike as much as we like. Which is all the time actually.

What’s even better is that the new two-legged pets we have got instead of Fiffi, needs help catching mice around the property – something Robyn has mastered completely. Batcat is still always a few steps behind his sister, but he persists in teaching the new pets how to speak Cat, not giving up hope on being able to teach them to give him more sweets. We’ve also heard the two-leggeds refer to us as the special ones. For some strange reason they’ve never seen cats with short or curled tails before.

We always talk to our new pets, much like we did with Fiffi and it always reminds us of our life with her, mainly because they also never seem to really get it. But such is life with pets, you never know exactly what they’re up to or have in mind, but it’s wonderful to share this thing called life together.

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Back in the days when we thought we could still fit comfortably together in the chair.

Så som i himmelen, så ock på jorden

Om kärlek.

De flög till New York. Det var hennes 30-års present. Det var 10 underbara dagar i världens bästa och mest spännande stad. Sen gjorde hon slut. Det skulle dröja ett halvår innan han flyttade ut och tre år innan de officiellt var skilda.

Hon tänkte att hon säkert skulle hitta någon jättesnabbt och innan hon visste ordet av skulle hon sitta där med en ny man, ett nytt liv, och nya drömmar. Lycklig och med tindrande ögon skulle hon säga “nu förstår jag varför det behövde ta slut, annars hade jag ju aldrig kunnat sitta här idag”.

Man har ju hört att det går snabbt för folk runt 30-års åldern. Vi vet mer vad vi vill ha, och vi är mer redo för förhållanden. Klockan tickar *diskret blick mot livmodern* och det liksom bara rullar på. Men det hade verkligen inte alls rullat på för henne. Det hade stormat och varit stiltje, underbart och katastrofalt om vartannat.

Med viss fasa såg hon på singlarna runt henne som valde att vara särbo med den nya eftersom det är gött att inte behöva anpassa sig till någon annans vanor. Hon lärde sig vad varannan-vecka-föräldraskap innebär. Med förundran, och ibland förakt, såg hon på dem som kunde nöja sig och bli lyckliga. Hon försökte verkligen, hon vågade i alla fall försöka. Med djup avund såg hon på dem som hittade rätt. Hon längtade. Men ändå stod hon där och såg på sig själv i spegeln med en irriterat växande besvikelse.

Hon hade spenderat så oerhört mycket tid på kärleken. Framför allt på att i sin ensamhet, med eller utan ett förhållande runt halsen, analysera vad som är rätt, hur det egentligen borde vara och om hon någonsin skulle förändras. Men bortsett från en hel del trevliga minnen, såväl fysiska som emotionella, var hon osäker på om hon över huvud taget hade lärt sig något alls om kärlekens mysterium.

En man som tror på reinkarnation hade en gång sagt till henne: “Du är en av dem som minns hur kärlek känns i himlen. Det måste vara jobbigt att försöka återskapa den känslan på jorden, med våra brister och begränsningar.” Hon hade först blivit förolämpad. Tolkat det som att hon levde med film-inspirerade illusioner och ouppnåeliga ideal. Att hon älskade som en fjortis.

Men kanske var det lite sant ändå. Hon upplevde kärlek som något utom denna världen, något himmelskt. Som en oändligt stärkande frihet. Som ett självpåtaget ansvar så underbart betungande att livet ibland behövde pausas bara för att kärleken skulle kunna fortsätta. En himmelsk näralivet upplevelse. Som essensen av att vara människa.

Att kärlek också handlar om att ibland diska när det egentligen är den andres tur. Att det handlar om att tro och stötta när den andra inte riktigt vågar. Att det handlar om att vilja sova i den andres t-shirt. Det fattade hon också. Det var den enkla biten på något sätt.

Ändå satt hon nu där igen, med spruckna drömmar och värkande hjärta.

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The first snow of the year

About death.

In early November, the first Saturday to be precise, we have something here in Sweden called “Allsaint”. It’s the All Saints Day where traditionally we remember and honor those who are no longer with us by lighting candles at their graves. As such, it also becomes a very beautiful time of the year to visit Christian burial grounds. Since November in Sweden means it is dark by 5 pm, you’ll get plenty of time to stroll around the park-like graveyards and be out before midnight comes around to make it scary.

So off I go, towards the final resting place of my father. I’ve got a candle with me, and I know the grave has already been decked out with a spruce wreath. As if it was staged, the first snow is playfully twirling around in the sky, dancing as it is falling towards the ground. It’s cold enough for the snow to settle and so it silently and gently covers my surroundings. The soft snow white cover also provides a little bit of light in the immense darkness that is the Swedish winter.

The other day I met with my brother and we talked about how none of us feel particularly connected or emotionally attached to our father’s grave. It is just not the place where neither one of us remember him. For me it’s more a reminder of those last months of denial, agony and death anxiety. I think of it almost as the final prize, the completion medal. The official and tangible proof that you, as a close relative, made it through this strange ritual of saying goodbye forever.

It’s not a happy place, for me, the grave. But again, it is also not the place where I feel my chest tighten because I am reminded that he is not here, or the place where I find myself talking to him. Those moments of longing so badly, usually takes place in much more lively and unceremonious surroundings. Such as entering a certain building, or getting a whiff of something undetectable that later comes around as a memory.

However, it is indeed beautiful to walk along these graveyard paths, creaking of frozen leaves and fresh snow. Looking around, I can see hundreds of candles and lanterns, flickering in the darkness. In all parts of the cemetery small fires burn into the night, turning this land of the dead to a place where life and warmth can be seen all around.

Maybe that is what makes it special. Candles are symbols of hope and life. So we bring a little bit of our humanly warmth to the frozen graves. We spread some light in our darkness. And as we leave the graveyard, maybe we do so with the feeling of having had those who no longer bless our lives with their presence, just a tiny bit closer to us, closer to life.

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I don’t have any photos of my father around, instead I have his drumsticks.

Catching up wherever we are

About friendship

There were a few mishaps on the way to Madrid, such as a very long transfer, a mobile phone that refused to accept Spain as a place to operate in, and because the airport express busses were mysteriously well hidden I kept my friends waiting for so long it can’t be mentioned in words.

But then I was there! It was Spanish dinner time (read; night time) so we grabbed some tapas while catching up in a whirlwind of questions, sangria, oh’s and ah’s. I hadn’t seen the Spaniards for over a year, and as we had mainly followed each other’s activities on Facebook there were a lot of news to share. It is true magic when you can simply continue where you last left off, and just roll with whatever is current. No need to “do you remember…” just to fill the silence. It rightfully gets a little jumpy, and there will inevitably be a few “what?!? ” and “didn’t you know??”. But knowing that you have a home with each other, whenever or wherever you are, is a blessing not to be taken for granted.

A day or so later the youngest ones and FF arrived in sandals and with open arms, brimming with travel memories. Now almost half the Singapore Family was gathered. It truly was glorious in all its normality. We ate an enormous amount of food, grabbed every chance (read; almost all the time) to hug one another, and just kept up light, deep, thoughtful and thoughtless conversations. Like with most families there’s a random mess of opinions, ideas, memories in the making or remembered, organizational discrepancies and lots of love. There were several times when I felt my heartbeat more strongly, when I tensed with shared pain, cried with laughter at things said or not at all explained, felt my chest expand with pride, moments of curiosity or insight, and sometimes I just smilingly looked at them all. And all of this in 12 wonderful hours.

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Beautiful street sign above old style bar.

To me, friends we make and keep are like reflections of ourselves. They are almost different versions of ourselves, representing different parts of us and as such we grow together, we learn with and from each other and hopefully we challenge each other for the better. Someone said that friends are God’s way to apologize for family, but I think it’s more about creating your village. By taking an active role to find people and staying in touch with the ones that speak to our hearts, we take responsibility for our own village.

Having found myself back in Sweden after more than a decade away, I now have friends all over the world, and still I am blessed enough to return to arms that are still open and waiting. Overwhelmingly wonderful, I can’t express enough how grateful I am to have YOU ALL as my friends, old and new, near and far.

I never want to lose this feeling that I can jump on a plane tomorrow, or pick up the phone for just a five minute catch up, or write a letter, or spontaneously knock on someone’s door (watch out Gothenburg!!).

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Reunion in Madrid.

Odd and interesting things in Spain:

  • Lunch starts at 2.30pm and dinner at 9pm. (Gah!)
  • A lot of doorknobs are placed in the lower centre part of the door, whilst the lock is where it should be, in the middle of the door on the side. Spanish people hence often open doors with their thighs.
  • People from Madrid are called “cats”. Adorable!!
  • 20 degrees and sunny, they call it cold. Ha! Welcome to Sweden; anytime of the year – bring thermal clothes.

Fyra kaffe och en begravning

Om att orka ta farväl.

Hon vaknade för vad som kändes som den 511 gången de senaste 7 timmarna, och hon undrade uppgivet om hon hade ork kvar att försöka sova. Hon ger upp. Hon går upp.

Solen sken som vanligt och den förbannade jävla värmen lyckades sippra ner hela vägen in i tunnelbanan. Det var varmt precis över allt. Hon svettades och ångrade att hon inte druckit något innan hon gick hemifrån. I vanlig ordning var hon först på plats och satte sig i en torr, surrande aircon och beställde kaffe. När han kom, med försenings-ursäkter och en stel yta av motvilligt farväl beställde de frukost och spenderade någon dryg timma med att minnas stunder som varit, kallprata om det som är, och effektivt undvika det som hade kunnat bli och vad som väntar.

De tar farväl, och hon tar bussen. I tre år har hon nästan varje morgon suttit längst fram på den andra våningen på bussen som tog henne till jobbet. Ofta kunde hon få samma plats även på vägen hem, och ändå kände hon nu en barnslig lycka över att hon igen fann just den platsen ledig. Hon njuter av att kunna resa bland trädkronorna, och att hålla i sig i svängarna för allt man är värd.

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Framme. Istället för att ta trapporna upp till hemmet går hon in på caféet som nästan känns som hemma det med. Sätter sig vid ett litet bord längst in, försöker stänga ute sorlet och hon fipplar runt med väskan, laddaren, skrivboken. En cappuccino landar plötsligt på bordet och hon får knipa så hårt hon kan med tårna för att inte börja gråta över känslan av tillhörighet. Thanks dude, I love you! Han ler, You’re welcome, do you need some food? Nej, hon ler och skakar på huvudet.

Hon överväger att texta vännen och säga att hon inte hinner. Den vänligare versionen av jag orkar inte. Men samvetet för varsamt tvångströjan över hennes huvud. Hon lämnar dricks, vinkar till personalen, talar inte om att hon ska flytta, att hon inte kommer att komma tillbaka. Hon ger sig iväg och möter vännen inne i stan. De tar en kaffe. Säger farväl. Vi hörs, lycka till med allt, vilken härlig tid vi haft tillsammans, om du kommer förbi… jag kommer sakna dig.

Det är kväll och hon är trött. Hon vilar en stund innan middagen men kan inte riktigt slappna av. De får ett bord på uteserveringen. Hon tänker att det kanske är bra att passa på. Njuta av värmen. De äter middag och skålar för det nya livet. Men de pratar mest om det gamla livet som de har nu. Det är tryggt och känns fint. Hon får en present och hon tänker att det är något speciellt med människor som tar mötet med den andra på allvar. De fortsätter skålandet och när hon flera timmar senare ligger på madrassen i den tomma lägenheten ångrar hon att hon beställde kaffe på maten. Alkoholångorna luckras upp i koffeinet och hon har svårt att sluta tänka på de människor hon tagit farväl av.

Det är först när hon lämnat landet och checkat in på hotellet i Bali som det släpper. Hon sover länge. Det känns som hon har varit på en oerhört lång begravning. Dimman lättar. Nu kan hon minnas med glädje det som varit. Fälla en tår när saknaden river till. Börja vänja sig vid att vara utan. Börja något. Äntligen. Nu börjar något!