“Hej på dig,” he said.
While “hej på dig” [hey-poh day] is not an uncommon way to say hello in Swedish, it’s one that always cracks me up because “Hej på dig” was the name of my first Swedish book in seventh grade. I – and probably thousands of Finns of my generation – can still recite the entire first chapter of the book by heart, or at least the last line, in which a dog barks in Swedish: “Vov, vov”
SOLLENTUNA, Sweden – About 35 years ago, a fair-haired boy got off bus 520 at the Sollentunavallen stop, walked through the gate and down the stone stairs to the outdoor rink, to attend Edsbergs IF’s hockey school.
Even if he had given it any thought, maybe he would have seen himself come back to the rink as an adult, and maybe a child could even imagine an indoor rink where the old outdoor rink was, and a practice rink next to it, and a full-size bandy rink next to that one, but he most likely didn’t think he’d be back at “Vallen” to unveil an image of himself on the wall of fame of the new rink.
It’s funny how one’s senses can go into hyper speed in a fraction of a second, he thought. Just a second earlier he had been leaning back in his boat, watching his two buddies pull the fish out of the water, and now he was in the water, his body and brain working overtime trying to figure out what was going on.
The water was cold, they said. It was dark, and he could hardly see anything. The lake didn’t smell, but he heard sounds of struggle behind him. He spat out the water that had got into his mouth when the boat had capsized.
Nobody else was yet up, not even the sun, when he got up from the bed he had shared with his son, and walked to the kitchen to make some tea. On mornings like these, he felt like an old man, even though he was just 33, and he hated it.
He had slept poorly. Partly because his son had been fidgeting all night, waking him up several times. He had got up a few times and just walked around the room. His father-in-law had offered to lift his son to the sofa so that he could sleep in the bed by himself, but he had said he was fine.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a fellow hockey fan. Mike, whom I’ve never met, but who’s been my email pal for years, wrote simply that he was forwarding an email to me because he “thought you might be interested in it.”
Below Mike’s message, there was a link to a hockey memorabilia auction site which had a brand new Valeri Kharlamov collection up for sale.
Mike was right. I did find that very interesting. Valeri Kharlamov, the fantastic Soviet forward, was my biggest childhood idol.
When Son was born, almost nine years ago, I used to see his small, wrinkled face in my mind whenever I closed my eyes. I could be lying on a bench at the gym, and his face would emerge in front of my eyes. It’s hardly surprising since most of the time when I had my eyes opened those first few weeks, I would see his little face, too.
I didn’t want to be one of those pushy new fathers, so I didn’t carry photos of him to show to people. The one image I carried with me, of him, wherever I went, was that mental one. And maybe that’s the one I will always have with me, and maybe that’s why he will always be my baby – even now when he’s a genius almost trilingual Ph.D of Harrypotterism.
But last night, and today, when I close my eyes, the image that I see is of a smiling Stefan Liv, the Swedish goalie of the Yaroslavl hockey team that was wiped out in a plane crash yesterday.
Here it is, finally: A profile on Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers’ goalie. I wrote it in November, and today, you can find it in the seat pockets on every SAS flight.
And here, if you click on the image below to get the pdf.
Enjoy, happy landings!
Even the most famous people take on their pants one leg at a time. That is something Jarl Dahlquist knows for sure. He is the designated Nobel tailor.