I was a slightly naive, dewy-eyed African boy, and she was a beautiful, picturesque European city that wooed countless poets, artists, writers, scientists, adventurers and others who sought to make her their home. Falling head over heels for this thousand-year-old beauty was inevitable. One languid weekend, as I walked down the streets of my beloved, marveling at the beautiful architecture, the clean streets, the organized parking, the sublime weather and the ubiquitous peace and tranquility, I heard the old gal’s voice. She spoke to me in the language she knows best. I heard her voice in the softly rustling trees, the singing birds, the giggling toddlers in their strollers, and saw her smile in the slightly reddish sunset reflecting on the turquoise water, creating a surreally beautiful picture. She told me she loved me back.
The early bloom of my romance with Stockholm was a wonderful thing. I was smitten. I saw the beautiful face of my city in every theater, museum or monument I visited. With every hike in the woods, every boat ride in the heavenly blue water, and every lovely encounter with the people of Stockholm I knew this was not a mere infatuation. It was the real thing. I, Ayman, was in love with all 6500 square kilometers of Stockholm.
But then, sadly, winter came. It wasn’t the cold that I hated the most, it was the darkness. The unforgiving, unrelenting thick black veil enveloped my beloved from head to toe. It was there when I woke up in the morning, and it was there when I went to bed at night. As winter progressed, I was horrified to see life being stripped out from everything around me. The once almost painfully green trees became ugly, featureless lumps of plain wood. The playful, gentle cool breeze that used to make me smile mutated into a merciless blow of cold wind that made me shiver to my very core. My city was changing. The beautiful face I once knew was different somehow. Pretty, still, but different. The jubilant Stockholm I adored became solemn and melancholic.
I tried to embrace this new, colder, slightly aloof version of Stockholm. I immersed myself in tons of winter activities, and talked myself into accepting that change is an inescapable part of any relationship, be it human-to-human, or human-to-city. But deep down I yearned for the city I fell in love with; the sunny and vivacious metropolis that used to bustle with life, color and joy.
But now, it seems that winter is coming to an end. It’s not an unprecedented aberration to see the sun anymore. Temperatures are up, bare trees are starting to sprout new leaves, birds started singing again, and I started to recognize the beautiful face that once swept me off my feet. Sure, there are still some creases and cracks here and there; some nights are too cold, and some days are too dark. But all in all I feel that Stockholm and I have made it through the most turbulent stage of our relationship. I can’t wait for the spring, and I know she can’t either.