August 31st, 2012. I carried my passport in one hand, my heart in the other. I left Gothenburg with nearly precisely 20kgs that had been carefully selected, packed, weighted, and re-packed the day before. I was sixteen years old and carrying the heavy weight of a thick Swedish accent and a wonder of what adventures Buenos Aires would contain.
Now, I’ve started over again. I left Amsterdam the 30th of June, 2015. My suitcase carried the smell of hostels and a grey duct tape that had been wrapped around my bag. If you looked at it you would find small Japanese stickers, photos of me and my friends in a photo both and “this bag has been x-rayed and opened” stickers from the Mumbai airport. I arrived at home around midnight, so did my bag. Posters welcoming me with “Gothenburg- home of Volvo” brightened the walls before facing my parents and their beaming smiles.
Even though I lack any jetlag from Amsterdam and Greece, I spent most mornings and noons sleeping out late nights, or early mornings, in my old room. It’s peculiar being home, back in the city where it all started.
My old girl room is filled with clothes and books, each containing a different memory. There are stacks of old magazines from 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade, and onwards. NYLON covers and Swedish Elle with celebrities in minimalistic Scandinavian clothing staring at me. My bookshelf is filled with old books, books I enjoyed when I was in middle school, books that were gifted, and books that I never read. My mom moved my heavy Boltansky book from the window, along with a bright yellow one about war photography in Japanese characters that I picked up in a dusty bookstore in Tokyo once. My photo wall stopped evolving when I left, and what is now left is a Tube map of the London railway system from my first trip as a 15 year old, photos of Manhattan accompanied by dreams of when along with a photo both memory of my 9th best friend and I dressed in wigs at a summer festival.
When I left Athens this summer, I also left my old MacBook behind and gifted it back to my school that I recently graduated from. My hard drive was broken, but I didn’t need to bring much. I brought a small memory stick, selected the most important photos, all of my files from history class, my favourite high school subject, and some Spanish files for the future too. Three years of travelling and studied had taken place with that laptop, and what saddened me the most was leaving the memories behind. Each minor scratch that had happened in a different continent and each different city I had opened up a new world file in. I somehow stumbled upon the list of wifi spots my old Mac had connected to and let my eyes take a scroll through my first apartment in Buenos Aires to the cute coffeeshop underneath it, followed by hotels in Bhutan, sites in Washington D.C, Boston and New York, along with different houses in Sweden and Estonia and cities all around Japan and India.
I look around. My new MacBook is thinner, my documents folder is empty. My computer was the definition of empty. My old room yearned with past memories, the rooms and kitchen had been worn by people while I had been away; parents cooking dinners and breakfasts I had missed, houseguests sipping wine and listening to music. I don’t feel scared to leave this time. This time, I feel ready. University letters have filled my inbox, and my suitcase is ready to be packed. My short wifi list where thus far only “home” has been connected to is ready to be exploited. This time, I’m starting fresh. Without fear.