Broken Chords: From 3 Weeks Ago

“I saw everything in the world build up and then everything in the world fall down again.
‘Do you wanna leave soon?
No, I want enough time to be in love with everything…
And I cry because everything is so beautiful and so short.’ ” ~ Marina Keegan
 – View of the canal as we walked toward the central train station in Malmö –
  Today was the first gray Sunday. It was the first cold Sunday. The one filled with tears and anxiety and tulips on that street. And the flowers were not for Valentine’s Day any longer. The one with deep, deep sadness. The one painted with shades of somber, of stress. You could feel it in the streets, in the tension, in the quiet. Life went on, but then, it didn’t. Not really. People went out, ran their errands, rode their bikes. But I felt like we were walking in winds of worry.
 – Top right and bottom left = St. Peter’s Church, middle top = modern art exhibit –
   So we went to Malmö, Sweden. And that was good. We went, not to fully escape those winds of worry, but to be somewhere away. To sit in the beautiful church there, the inside painted all white, and to listen to a man play piano in the sanctuary, and despite the church being mostly empty, to not even once feel the slightest bit alone. To get coffee and walk along the streets in the biting cold, to see all the art in the museum, to visit the light-filled and colorful and warm library, to remember that life is beautiful, and life is short. To be okay with not understanding this world that we live in. Just for a little bit of time.
  And all the bus ride home and most of today, I thought to myself, how do I live in a world that I cannot understand? How precious life is, how short. How close to losing this gift of life we have, and how easily it’s thrown away. Just last Sunday, I was walking in a park with friend, getting coffee, and all was well. And yes, there were events happening all over the world that were terrible and frightening and awful, and they are still happening, but on that Sunday, it seemed so idyllic.
 – Top left = city library, bottom left = St. Peter’s Church, bottom middle = the Optimistic Orchestra statues! –
   Malmö was beautiful. Full of gorgeous parks and interesting architecture and different museums. My favorite building, by far, was the city library. A modern wing had been added to the old library, and the two were seamlessly connected. The modern wing had glass on pretty much every side, with an entire glass wall facing a lake outside the library. The place was flooded with light, and the white/light wood Scandinavian design seemed to open it up even more. We wandered the shelves and shelves of books, climbing up to the different floors, to find the foreign language fiction section. He found the German language section – pointing out the different authors that he liked, some up-and-coming in Germany, and some belonging to the classics. And I attempted to read some of the covers, with a little bit of his help. We found a book on Colorado, and I pointed out the State flower.
 – City library – isn’t it beautiful? –
   The first floor of the library held the Children’s section, and it was such a fun little area. It made me wish I was young again, so I could crawl into the little castle in the middle of the space, curl up in one of the bean bag chairs, and read all my favorites: Boxcar Children. Ramona and Beezus. Avi. Pippi Longstocking. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Magic Treehouse Series. Frindle. The Children’s Library also held instrument rooms, which he pointed out to me, laughing,“Can you imagine practicing drum-set in the library?”  And yet, there was a little girl there doing exactly that. I loved it. It seemed that Sweden really loved to have things for kids – there were playgrounds everywhere, and a children’s section in many of the museums we went into. There was even an art studio in the library just for kids – painting and drawing and music and books. The perfect Sunday afternoon right there.
   The Natural History and Art Museum was also an interesting building. Built from old bricks, the outside of it looked like a castle, and when we took the little bridge from the bank over to the entrance, it felt like we were walking over a castle moat. The best part? The museum was free! Ok ok, that wasn’t the best part, but it sure was nice. We didn’t have enough time for everything we wanted to see, but we visited a photography exhibit featuring frogs from all over the world (the photographer was amazing, and he had a penchant for photographing frogs at all stages of life. He loved it enough to stand in pools of water all day and wait a billion years just to take the perfect picture of a frog leaping across a lily-pad or out of the water or just lying around in the sun. I liked it, but after the fifth picture of a frog preparing to jump across a pond, I felt like, yeah, ok – seen one, seen ‘em all. To quote my mom. J) He loved it though, reading all the different explanations on how that particular frog photo was captured. Pointing out the different angles that photographer must have taken to get that shot. “Who knows,” I teased him, “maybe you will be the next great frog photographer!”
 – Top pictures from the History and Art Museum exhibits, bottom right = a windmill next to the Museum –
   We wandered into an art exhibit next, and I fell in love with one of the pictures there. He was partial to the landscape ones, and I liked the ones showing just everyday life. A glimpse into a different world – one that I can’t quite believe existed at one point. That the artist who painted that scene was in that world; those were sights he saw every-day, people he lived with or knew. I also really liked the old photographs that showed how the same art was put on display in the 1950’s at the museum. All the art pieces were crammed onto one wall sometimes – an overwhelming, dizzying array of large and small frames, with seemingly no order or pattern to them. “So many,” he said laughing, “I feel dizzy just looking at the photo.”  The museum closed at 5, so we headed back to the central station to catch the train back. The city lights were just starting to turn on, lighting up the darkening sky as we crossed over the water, and it was so peaceful – a moment suspended in time.
 – My favorite picture! –
    Just a few days ago, I walked by the synagogue where the shooting had happened. The street alongside was lined with hundreds of bouquets and tulips, and candles were lighted by the gate, next to mementos for the victim. The street was busy, people walking to and fro, crossing over to leave more flowers or light another candle. The events of that day and night are not really talked about all too much. It seems that Danes are just well-informed – they know the news without openly discussing it with one another. But there’s an unspoken empathy in the midst of tragedy – the older gentleman, dressed in business attire, stopping to buy a bouquet of flowers and leave it at the synagogue before going to work. The mother with her young son, out on a walk, giving her son a flower and instructing him to leave it next to the gate. The handkerchief in the hands of an elderly woman, as she bends over to light a candle. And I thought of the city lights, shining across the water as we made our way back to Denmark. The winds of worry are still present, but they’ve died in strength just a little bit, and they can’t put out the candles that we’ve lit.
 – Sunset by Fru Plads by DIS –

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