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DAYS

STAY SALTY ...... means column

Maya Column

Stepping forward at Baltic

from  Stockholm / Sweden

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Maya
IT programmer / interpreter

After living in the U.S. and China, he has been living in Stockholm, Sweden since the dawn of the new century.
Main occupation: IT programmer, occasional overseas location assistance, research, interpreter.
Private life: volunteer work related to pandemic.

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6.2.2021

DAYS /  Maya Column

Stepping forward at Baltic

From the Japan sea to the Baltic sea

When I hear seagulls on the balcony, I know that it's time to get up.
There are no seagulls in sight. 

Half-asleep, I head for the living/dining room where the coffee dripper is.
The building across from my window is illuminated by the morning sun, and they have changed their outfit since last night. 
It's going to be a bright day, I thought, feeling uplifted.
For those of us who live in Scandinavia, the short moments of sunshine are bliss. 

I open the window of my living room and lean out a little, and through the buildings I can see a stretch of the coastline bathed in the morning sun.
People walking their dogs or running along the beach appear from the right side, disappear to the left, back and forth.

Three years ago, I moved to my current apartment.
It was to start a second life. 

This is a new residential area known as the 'Riviera of Stockholm'.
Stylish restaurants stand in front of the beach which is also famous for its design.
In the summer, it turns into a trendy district where swimmers from all over the city gather to compete for physical beauty. 
I hand over the beach to them in the summer, but in the spring, fall, and winter, the beach ought to be returned to us who live in this area. 

It would have been possible to buy a condominium overlooking the entire coast instead of just a section of it, if I had increased the amount of my mortgage loan or bought a much smaller condominium, but I decided not to do so this time. 
Why? 
Because buying a condominium that overlooks the entire ocean would be the ultimate ideal in my life.
My life is still in the midst of its aspirations.
I am not aware of what my aspiration really is, but I have my own jinx without any reason that when I find it, I will be qualified to buy a condominium overlooking the whole ocean.

****

My father was born and raised in a seaside town by the Japan sea, where dusk turns the whole town red. 
But, 
at the time when neither seaside estate nor mountain estate were so expensive, my father chose to buy a mountain villa estate. 

My father, who was an engineer, took a leave of absence from his job and spent a year alone in the mountain to build a log house without using a single nail, which had been his dream for a long time. 

After it was completed, we had to frequently drive up to the log house in the middle of the night, via the dense fog of the Usui Bypass with cold sweat running down our spines.In my youth, I may have spent more time wearing mountaineering knickers than swimsuits and dresses. 

The more my father nurtured his longing for the mountains, the more I longed for the sea.

A few years after my father's death, my mother called me and said, "I went through his working room. You know what I found? I waited for her next words."I found model ships, many of them. Your father might have longed to go back to the sea. Actually,Born and raised in a seaside town by the Japan sea, my father was never tired of the sea.On the contrary, he must have loved the sea.However, he could not give up his passion for the mountains, so he stayed away from the sea a bit too long.

Twenty years have passed since I put down roots in this seaside town. 
This country used to be called a good model of a social welfare state with the symbolic phrase "from cradle to grave".
However, this northern country has not always been warmly welcoming to foreigners who do not understand its language and culture. 
I don't have any conflicts with this country, but there have been times when I cried in places where no one could see me.
Some of my friends returned home because they could not get used to this country.

However, every morning when I open the window, feel the warm sun on my cheeks, and look out over the beach with a cup of coffee in my hand, I am reminded of something. 
"This is what happiness is all about. 
I try to find something that makes me feel lucky, even things that might be trivial to others. 
"I didn't get a migraine today.
"My family is healthy today.
"The sunlight from the balcony reminds me of a painting I used to love.
"The orchid that I thought was dead is in full bloom this year.
"Today's rice cooked crystal clear.
"Suddenly I remembered the name of a song I couldn't remember.
"My friend, who I thought disliked me, contacted me.
"I finally finished writing a Christmas card.
"A stranger helped me when I was stranded in the deep snow.
"A randomly chosen restaurant turned out to be more delicious than I expected.
"I found a well-stocked Asian grocery store.
And so on. 
Infact, when I made a list like this, I found that I was surrounded by much fortune.
Each of these little boxes of happiness that I have collected and preserved is what I call happiness. 

Before my father died, he asked my daughters and me, "I wonder if you are ever going to come back to Japan.
I have always tried to fulfill most of my family's wishes, but this was the one thing I could not do.

In the morning, the color of the sea from the window was greenish for some reason.
Then, from noon to evening, the surface of the water gradually turns to the color of the sky.
The name of this place is 'beach', but the name of the water is Lake Mälaren.
But this water passes through a sluice near the old town and connects to the Baltic Sea. 
And all oceans are eventually connected somewhere in the world.

This morning, I went down to the beach before ten o'clock.
In Japan, it would have been just before nineteen o'clock, the time when the sky would have turned red.        
I offered cherry blossoms and sake to the shore, and spoke to the sea solemnly, 
"I couldn't make it back home this year either for some reason, 
but I'm living happily on the other side of the ocean in a nearby town, so don't worry.

 
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