It was an ordinary evening and the doorbell rang. Outside stood my pal who was just passing by on her way home from work. She thought she would just pop by for a cuppa. “Come on in,” I said, “We’re about to have dinner, you fancy some?” She did. She stayed for dinner, played a board game with the kids, and then headed home.

It seems like a completely normal thing to have happened, right? But in Sweden, not so much. In Sweden, you book a dinner date ahead of time, clean the house, look up a nice recipe, put on nice clothes and it’s an EVENT. I struggle with this way of organising my social life. Perhaps it’s because I’m no good at making plans or I don’t own any nice clothes… Perhaps it’s because I know that the best things happen when you don’t make plans. Good conversation generally can’t be planned.

I often think that I can’t live in Sweden because my house is always messy, I cook things that take max. 30 minutes and I have low standards when it comes to my attire. There’s paint or dust or something random on most of my clothes. And they are unfashionable because I’m an illustrator and have no money to look good.

I need to live in a place that accepts me like this. A place where you can ring the doorbell, pop by for a below-average dinner, shuffle some clothes off the sofa, and play a board game on any given day. Where chatting with your pals is something you don’t schedule. It’s something that happens when one of you just pops by on your way home from work.

Gabi Froden

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