the first time i ever saw a pair of clogs was in
i was a junior in high school.
in another lifetime.
long long ago.
in another galaxy
far far away.
in those crazy days of ‘teasing’ one’s hair.
apparently even if one wears a
and there’s very little to TEASE!
so one comes off with a modified
complete with spiked bangs.
ah. the good ole days.
ya just gotta love’em.
it was june.
the summer before our last year in high school.
and i was about to meet
even taller in her clogs!
she had a delightful accent . . . but she spoke better
and more grammatically correct english than WE did!
she also knew far more about american history than WE did!
that was margareta.
anna christina margareta sjoberg.
with two dots over the o which my keyboard won’t do.
and no. it’s not pronounced show~berg!
to say it the way she said it is hard. but beautiful.
well. that’s close.
i can hear it even now. in my mind.
and i learned to say it properly for her.
it’s the least a friend can do.
she was a natural blonde.
and no ‘teasing’ of hair for her.
in every way
she was our school’s foreign exchange student that year.
she was to become my best friend.
we were destined to roam the hallowed halls
of this old high school for one whole ‘senior’ year.
a year that would change the entire course of
why she picked a tiny little town in northern minnesota
in a state that is made up of mostly swedish
and norwegian and danish and polish people . . .
and all things scandinavian . . .
at least it was back then . . . and mostly 2nd generation even . . .
i’ll never know!
it’s like . . .
if i came all the way over here . . .
i’d want to check out sunny california !!!
as a matter of fact . . .
it was only CHANCE that my dad hadn’t been transferred to
california instead of minnesota.
orders for minnesota came through only two weeks before the
california one and he’d already accepted the assignment.
at least i got to meet and come to know margareta.
so i’m glad that
instead of california . . .
she was choosing the very same place.
a remote little town in northern minnesota.
a place that is still tiny. after all these years.
that’s now primarily known for
this is robinson park
she was from the gorgeous city of
the ‘ venice of the north ‘
stockholm photo courtesy: telegraph.co.uk.
talk about culture shock!
in our little graduating class.
and the town of sandstone had ONE traffic light.
they strung one strand of christmas lights across each end of main street.
and those lights were left up
by then i was already
a loving ‘student and ardent follower’ of thoreau.
we had that in common.
we were not your average giggly teenage girls.
we loved nature and would often walk in the woods
and watch the little muskrats build their house.
sometimes we talked non stop like teen girls do.
sometimes we didn’t talk at all. just listened to the forest.
and the kettle river.
the same kettle river that daddy and i walked across
in the first week of april that year.
yes. i followed him across that cold ice
on the last weekend we had together.
i would have followed him anywhere.
he was that kind of man.
he had my TOTAL respect.
long long long . . . cold cold winters in northern minnesota.
my dad simply didn’t come home from work
one day that next week . . .
. . . he had died of a massive heart attack in the afternoon . . .
i was in mr giliotti’s history class.
it came over the intercom for me to come to the principal’s office.
down the hall walking toward me coming to the office too
was the marine.
he was 14.
we were taken home by captain driscoll
and the chaplain.
hours later at home . . .
when it still wasn’t real . . .
for any of us.
she just came and sat beside me.
she was there for me.
no long speeches.
just her quiet simple presence.
the gift of her friendship.
we graduated six weeks later.
we were both 17 by then.
she went back to sweden.
but first she toured the united states.
she got to see most of the country after all.
i came with my mother and the marine first to new york.
then we three came to oklahoma where my dad’s family lived.
and this is where we stayed. until mother went back to new york.
and the marine had to go to viet nam.
margareta married a young swede she met at university there.
he became an ambassador for sweden.
they lived all over the world.
and they had two beautiful children.
i enrolled in the university of oklahoma.
then my life course changed again.
i married bob.
and stayed in oklahoma!
yes! me! i!
the same rambling rose that had lived her growing up life
ever moving and living EVERYWHERE!
he was an oklahoma boy. and they never leave you know.
if they do ever leave . . . they come back!
it’s a weird phenomenon. true.
we wives of oklahoma boys have talked about it.
she and i wrote each other for a long time.
it was the age before computers and email.
my beloved bob died.
and i sort of lost contact with everybody for a long long while.
but now . . . sometimes . . .
i find i wonder about her. how she is. what she’s doing.
we’re little old ladies now!
that seems so strange.
because these memories i’ve shared with you here
feel still . . . just like yesterday.
i’ve tried to find her on the internet.
and maybe someday i’ll be able to.
but then again . . . maybe not.
you can’t go back.
but . . .
whenever i see nordic rooms like these . . .
i think of my cool elegant blonde swedish friend
who embodied the simple truth of these rooms.
they represent all that she was.
if a room can represent a person.
all the best qualities for a room
til soon old bean.