There are times in your life when everything seems complicated and a total grind. Times that get a bit blurry, when you can’t keep a handle on things, when everything seems to fall apart. Those times, with no sight of a silver lining, when a feeling of failure lodges in your head and doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to leave.
You give huge sighs of irritation to express your crabbiness, you sigh when you wake up, in traffic jams, at work, queuing at the sandwich store…you sigh to get rid of tension, to release something. You feel sorry for yourself, and you do way too much navel-gazing.
And that’s me. Exactly like this.
Everyday life gets to be a big mess, dark and threatening, like an army of bad habits stamping along out of step to some out of tune music. When you stand up and bang yourself on the shin you curse the guilty bit of furniture as well as the whole of the Swedish race. After an outburst like this, every movement you make feels draining, endless and incessant. There are days when the insurmountable wants to be your best friend. Because you feel empty and useless. When this fabulous combination of circumstances shows up, you end up going over to your good friend Cecile’s, who’s invited you over for a pick-me-up drink. “You know I’ll always be there for you, right?” So you take the time to drink a beer, eat some chips, and smoke a cigarette and realize there is always a small degree of comfort somewhere in all this shitty mess. And you explain how—in interminable detail—how you see everything in black, you live your life in black and that black is your destiny. Your friend Cecile jokes about, play-rapping to "Back to Black" channeling Amy Winehouse, but you are in no mood for messing around.
You explain how you’ve got writer’s block, that it’s making you ill and that you got to the point of actually hitting the keyboard with your fists until you realized that the result on the screen—kjsfhgmjkamgfjhqmfjlgmqljqofgqdfoh—looked like the name of an Icelandic volcano. You’re aware that you’re talking only about yourself, that you’re being really clumsy with your words and that your close friend is sitting beside you on the sofa in a low-key mood with a Sigur Rós album playing in the background. Something is happening. Without really thinking you trot out the André Breton quote about not wanting to be anywhere else because you’ve always thought this line deeply beautiful and now you realize that all this time the woman next to you is equally as beautiful as this sentiment. The woman, that is, who you’ve been close to for several years. And right then and there you realize that love at first sight is idiotic garbage upheld by morons. You see now that you have the solution for all your troubles, but you were too much of a fool to even notice it.
You make an effort to pull yourself together and to find a way, right then and there, to tell her how much you love her because right now your stomach is wracked with pain. So you tell her that for better or worse you can offer her a lot of laughing but probably not fur coats, and as you’re explaining this to her you’re telling yourself that you’re on top of your game word-wise. Then you try and explain that the way you’re feeling is like when you go into a men’s restroom and don’t dare look at your neighbor urinating so you can avoid knowing you’ve lost the pissing contest. But then you instantly regret picking that particular example for this special moment.
Throughout all this she’s smiling at you in a loving way, putting her head down and biting her lip. You feel as though you’ve finally seen the end of the tunnel and you can see a shining halo round her face, so delicate, soft and sweet. You kiss her for the first time—completely forgetting that fancy dress party a year ago when following a drunken bet, she’d stuck her tongue in your mouth to get at a green olive. Now you’re kissing her for real and you realize that your eyes are closed. Sometimes, you realize, it’s quite nice to close your eyes on certain things.
This kiss, you discover, has a wonderful taste of chips and nuts and you also find that a drink can make you hungry, that you’ve been hungry for a long, long time and that it was eating you up inside. And most of all you realize that life gets easier when you gaze at someone else’s navel.
Translated by Hannah Charlton