Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Clippings from Sweden

Once in a while, I get a thick letter with newspaper clippings from my grandmother in Sweden. It has become a game for me to look at each clip closely and figure out why a particular one was sent to me.

First, I have to decide what side of the piece is most significant. This is fairly easy when words or headlines are cut off on one side, or pictures are slashed in half. Sometimes, however, I find a relevant story on both sides and then have to carefully examine each caption and read the text completely to figure out who it is that I am supposed to recognize.

Is this an old friend from school? Was that my third-grade violin teacher? Is this just a pretty picture of my hometown?

When I’ve read an entire story and still cannot figure it out, I can only come to one conclusion: This is a picture of someone my grandmother knows.

My grandmother belongs to several music groups where she plays the guitar and the accordion. She also takes water aerobics and sometimes substitutes for the teacher. She always runs into people she knows, whether she goes to the store or the doctor’s office. I haven’t lived in Sweden in almost ten years, so I haven’t kept up with her circle of friends as well as she would have hoped. Perhaps she is trying to give me a hint.

I also find myself reading Swedish articles differently, now that I work for a daily newspaper. All of a sudden, I pay attention to the names of the police chiefs, the spokesmen of different state agencies and information about emergency personnel’s different rescue procedures. I keep thinking “this could be good to know.”

Perhaps I am thinking I will one day go back. Or perhaps I am just thinking like a journalist.

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