LUND--My life here has become rather like a chronic medical condition: it's not going away, I have to treat it with a mixed therapy of exercise, proper diet and medicine and still I have my good days and my bad days. I'd been having some bad days lately: a mix of the dark winter, missing my friends and the existential angst of passing though an entire year in a foreign land, turning 39 and finding myself in a stable relationship. These all have combined to make me wonder, in my darker moments, if the best is all behind me. Here I am, suddenly, incomprehensibly, almost 40, engaged to a wonderful woman, watching what I eat and drink, having quit smoking, started wearing underwear and often more content sitting at home Friday nights with Chinese take-out and some DVDs of "Friends" than out drinking, arguing and hunting for the next love-of-my-life.
My life is far from boring and even though I am often bored I have always been often bored so that is nothing new. In the past year I have moved to Sweden (after spending a month in El Salvador filming a documentary), learned to speak a new language passably, traveled to Budapest, gone back to Budapest on my way to Transcarpathia, Ukraine where I spent a month filming a second documentary, returned to deal with helping the actual love-of-my-life through the death of her father, traveled with her through Croatia, Italy and back to Budapest, got and finished a freelance job making seven short films and photo-series, hung a exhibit of photographs and taught myself to make a good Perigeaux sauce. And all these leave out all the smaller trips, little jobs, everyday victories and setbacks that add up to one extremely busy year.
So this past Saturday night I found myself listening to a Scanian windstorm, watching the trees bend in the gusts and a cellular tower whip back and forth and thought, "Hmmm, maybe we should stay in tonight, rent a movie. I know we're invited to a party in Malmö and are on the guest list at the hip club Debaser where Lena's friend and co-worker Tara is DJ-ing her monthly event, "Get Laid or Die Tryin'"... but... it's windy out there...." At which point I realized I had better either shut up about having nothing to do or trade my boots in for loafers, buy a big television, start watching sporting events for excitement and develop the sorts of disfunction my e-mail spam already accuses me of.
I never have been a club sort of guy, vastly preferring the pub, the café, the coffee house or my porch to a door charge, overpriced drinks, ear-splitting music I don't like and overdressed wankers and the girls who mate with them making me feel like a big dork. Of course, not having been clubbing for years I've also gained in age and confidence and being off-the-market romantically renders a lot of the angst irrelevant. We showed up a little before 2300 and were on the guest list. We had just been to a glögg party, a little circle of Swedes drinking hot, spiced wine and Lena saw that the bar's special was a glögg cocktail so we began with those. Debaser, where we had been once before after my birthday dinner, is a good space. When I hear "club" I tend to think of cavernous spaces and VIP rooms filled with immortals. The Swedish club was a little different. The crowd, for the most part, was dressed extremely fashionably, the men perhaps more than the women who, being Swedish, needed to do no more than put on a little lipstick and anything from their closets in order to pretty much blow away the rest of the world's females. The men, being as interested as they are in hair care products, here-today-gone tomorrow sweaters and ironic hats simply can't raise the level of aggressive, threatening testosterone I normally associate with the club experience. To the Swedish guy's credit, perhaps being secure (if goofy) enough to wear such sweaters they aren't overly aggressive because, in fact, they're already getting laid by some of those gorgeous women.
My point being that the atmosphere of the club remained fun without any of the meanness or desperation one might expect from an event called, "Get Laid or Die Tryin'." Perhaps such a name could only work in Sweden. Americans or Russians or Mexicans (just to name a few) might take it far too literally--fail to see the humor, as it were. Three bands played: some Emo guy whose music was only slightly less painful than having a roofing nail driven through your foot, a good rock band with a cute female singer and a little 17-year-old rapper, too young to drink beer even in Europe. Then Tara and her friends DJ'd and the floor was packed. I felt, if not on the cutting edge of fashion, obviously cool since I had opted for jeans, Doc Martens, a t-shirt and my old black leather jacket.
And we had a good night, a sufficient number of drinks, some dancing (Lena) and some photo-taking (me). We left before close and caught a bus back to Lund where we got late night McDonald's. And in the morning I felt much better, much more like me, much less like a couch-sitting dork gossiping about the relationships of his friends, Joey and Chandler, Monica and Ross and Rachel and Phoebe rather than having adventures of his own.