I'm leaving tomorrow, and my stomach dips with that top-of-the-roller-coaster anticipation that one gets before flights. The two monstrosities that erupted on my face last week have now been reduced to neon red marks above my lips as if bitten just below the nose. From a distance it would appear I'd recently recovered from cold sores, but in reality it is just a combination of acne and nerves. I still haven't completely packed and in an attempt to dodge the painful time and money which checking baggage involves, have chosen both a small suitcase and large, hideously brown shoulder bag I was given at work. So far the suitcase contains a power converter, underwear, and a large Jeffrey Campbell box containing these very shoes:
I know what you're thinking. "You're going to a country of cobblestone and contstant walking and you're bringing wooden platforms that resemble cement blocks used by the mob to sink bodies?" The answer is yes, and I suspect that cement blocks perhaps would be more conducive to forward motion. Realizing this potential blunder, and wanting to have someone talk me out of this great idea, I approached Simon, convinced he'd argue against me. "I know they take up my entire suitcase and I know they might hurt, but they make my legs so pretty!" He suprised me by saying that he understood, but to make sure I brought flats as well seeing as, "I have learned that when your feet hurt... I hurt too." I stopped to think about exactly what I was doing, not just mindlessly packing for what might make my American ass look smaller, but why I would so obviously choose to suffer?
After my usual hour in the gym this morning, I started to really question why I would want to pack those bulky heels and began realizing some of the cultural differences between American and Swedish women. Here I was slaving an hour of precious, all too little time in a confined space on some cardio machine so that I could put on delicate torture traps that would prohibit me from walking. Somewhere in Stockholm right now, there is a businesswoman in classic flats strolling a few kilometers to the subway and probably coming to same caloric impact as me. Lost in thought as I cycled downhill towards my office (I actually do have a more European approach to transportation than most in Texas), I pushed the thought further recalling a recent conversation with Simon in regards to my trip and my previous travels through Scandinavia.
"I like to go to the grocery stores and look at everything, trying to see what they have that we don't and vice versa. I like to try to see if that's the reason they're healthier than Americans." Simon replied, "What did you find?" I found that Europeans, Swedes in particular have a fair amount of vegetables and small-portioned frozen meats, cheap wines, and aisles and aisles of sweets whereas Americans, apart from the Whole Foods crowd which I am a card carry member of, go to big box stores where 24-packs of lunch portioned potato chips and oversized bags of popcorn dominate. The sweets, also occupying more aisles than they should, all shouting that they are 25% bigger and contain 1/3rd of the fat. It would appear to me that Swedes say, "Have a biscuit, a small one, but make sure it's a nice on and you enjoy it." Then leave it at that, and know better than to have another... and another... and another. The American approach seems to be, "Why pay $4 for a truffle when you get a box of reduced fat chocolate Swiss rolls with a few lower fat grams!" It's obvious to me that if I put the same effort into obtaining said, brilliant truffle that I am likely to eat that and stop and savor that bitch until the dark chocolate finally dissipates, unadulterated from my tongue. It's also apparent (speaking from experience here) that if left to my own devices with a "reduced calorie" box of anything, I'm unwrapping every individual wrapper until I'm left in a mess of crumbs, plastic, and shame headed right back to the gym to lose a few more hours of my that I didn't really have in the first place, not to mention hours that could have been devoted to actual enjoyment. In the typical fashion that anyone who's ever dealt with any sort of eating disorder deals with impending meals, I analyze, I stress, I estimate calories, and try to preemptively negate them with a run. Am I going about this the wrong? Is my American sensation for "More! More! More!" consuming time with consumption and the compensation of such? I want to find out, and try to take this trip slow. I want to eat a slice of prinecssatorte without going to caloriecount.com and searching for a Gold's Gym later, while stil being able to zip up my pants. If the Swedes can do it? Why can't we?