Umeå and Obbola, Bjorn and Lena’s House

We arrive in Umeå at 15:30. We stop to buy flowers, but we don’t find any so Fredrick picks up a box of chocolate for Lena. We tour the city by car. He shows me the university district and where he lived when he studied here. We pass in front of the cathedral and the town hall at the opposite side a large park that overlooks the river and where people usually have picnics.

The clouds and the rain strangely abandoned us  and the sun shines proudly as we cross the bridge to Obbola and the sunlight reflects on the Umeå River. Fredrick tells me that the best thing about this city is that, for reasons unknown, it is almost always sunny.

Obbola is famous for the production of paper and we are in fact just on the other side of the bridge from the paper factory; we see the chimney in the distance and can smell its foul odor. I look at the houses, prefabricated bungalows like the camp where I grew up, mostly wood and proudly waving the Swedish flag.

We pass by a grove of birch trees, and we have arrived. Bjorn welcomes us, baby Noel in his arms. I introduce myself as I stroke the baby’s head.

Upon entering we take off our shoes, as is done in all Swedish homes, and Bjorn shows us the house. The villa belonged to a famous Swedish singer of the ’80s who now lives in Los Angeles. At first it seemed small, but it is really huge! The house tour starts with the son’s room, then the couple’s bedroom, a bathroom, and a huge living room divided by a shelf behind which a television and couch hide. Then there is a desk with a computer and finally the kitchen. It is circular, at the left of the entrance door.

We go downstairs where there’s a piano bar and a ballroom where they put a television and a couch; there’s room for six people. I imagine the husband watches football while his wife and her friends gossip at the bar. Turning right is a bathroom, a storage room, and a fully equipped laundry: washer, dryer, clothes hanger, and a wash basin. Finally, two rooms where the guests will stay. Think it’s over? Of course not!

We go back upstairs and go out on the veranda, all glass walls, and a garden where there is the dog with his toys scattered here and there. The dog, an English setter, approaches, and after sniffing us, returns to its previous business.

Bjorn offer us drinks: a glass of wine for me and a beer for Fredrick, as we wait for Lena who is still at work. Bjorn puts the adults’ dinner in the oven and gives Noël his. Lena arrives: blue eyes and light skin emphasized by the dark color of her hair. Bjorn also has got blue eyes, brown hair, and is slender; his eyes are not as noticeable as those of Lena of a deeper blue. Strangely, their son has brown eyes with light brown hair and he sits in the baby chair, finishing his soy yogurt; he is allergic to dairy products. Sometimes he calls his father to get attention. The dog rushes to Lena the minute she comes in. He follow her every movement and when we try to pet him, he snubs us.

Bjorn is at the stove and asks Lena to light the barbecue in the garden. We have dinner at 18:30 and the sun shines as if it was noon. We dine on the veranda. Bjorn serves the meat from the garden, meanwhile Lena brings out a tray with baked vegetables: peppers, zucchini, red onions, and peppers stuffed with cheese and Halumi. As we finish dinner, Noël begins to yawn, so the mother takes him to bed. She comes back after ten minutes with coffee and dessert: chocolate mousse with mint.

I begin to feel the fatigue of the journey. If I had to go by the sun I would say that it is 17:00 and not 23:00. We  walk to digest the meal and I take this opportunity to take some pictures of the harbor and the town already silent. The homes are all bungalows; although they are certainly huge and super inside, they give me the impression that they are not real, like a recreated village for tourists. They are still in the domus up style, like two loaves of bread in a cellar, some cobbled, bright red, others of wood. Actually there are very few tourists; I think I’m the only one!

I fall asleep. Fredrick has lowered the blinds; the rays of light suggest that it is still early, but it’s midnight already.