This is the story of the Swede Who Loved Me.
This is not a “ain’t single life fabulous” story. I hate them.
Don’t get me wrong; the unmarried-way works for me. I am even fabulous on occasion. But alone and awesome tales are usually considered pathetic attempts to convince myself that I am happy, while “what we did on vacation” is all the evidence of bliss a wedded couple needs.
Let’s get one thing straight. I am not happy. That’s my nature, not my marital status. I’m ok with it. Anxiety is my go-to emotion. If I am trying to convince myself otherwise, you better believe it’s on doctor’s orders.
If my marital status makes me anything, it’s interesting. Interesting as in, “your new haircut is interesting,” or “you are so cool and do the most interesting things.”
This is a story about the latter.
On an early April afternoon, days after a freak snowstorm, the King and Queen of Sweden came to town. The town was Wilmington, Delaware. I was a Wilmington City Councilwoman back then, and just important enough to be invited to all the festivities, including a State Dinner.
(I was going to say “Royal Ball” but the Cinderella overtone bugs me.)
So, yeah, I shared a meal with King Carl and Queen Christina. Pretty cool, right, but only a footnote here.
You see, Carl and Christina were escorted to the US by the Swedish Navy. Officers were on-hand for every re-enactment, cocktail party and royal-related activity.
Men in uniform are hot as hell. You better believe I was happy that week.
At the Admiral’s event on the Swedes’ ship, Lt. Peter Palmgren invited me for a personal tour. Because of the language barrier, I translated his offer as an official duty so I promptly returned the favor by roping him into helping me with a PR stunt for my day job.
Lt. Palmgren graciously presented a plaque to the Oldest Swede in the Delaware Valley. The bank got coverage on all three major broadcast stations.
In between, Peter did the whole officer and gentleman thing, He was sweet, then sexy, then sorry to say goodbye. Sigh. If this was the end, I was happy; I had a story for the ages:
“My Week with the Swedish Naval Officer.”
Did I mention he was a helicopter pilot? Did I mention uniforms look as good on the floor as on pilots? This is the stuff rom-coms are made of, ships passing in the night. Literally.
But the story did not end there. Peter returned to the United States twice to see me. We spent a weekend in New York. I took him to see “Cats” and eat at the Carnegie Deli. He told me he loved me. I figured it was the language barrier.
But a few months later, we sailed on the Chesapeake Bay for a week. I asked him, if he could be anyone, who would it be? I remember him standing at the helm, declaring, “King and Hero.”
Worked for me.
He learned a bit of English, enough to also declare his true love for me again and again. Just like Swedish, I didn’t understand it. Why would he love someone 7,000 miles and an ocean away? How could we possibly even get to know each other?
Before we parted for what turned out to be our last time together, he asked me to just say the words, just say, “I love you too.”
You know what? I did. Because in that moment, I honestly was in love– with the idea of him. In this moment, I am in love with the memory of him, and the memory of cold April days.
This is one of the last posts you’ll see on SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com. The name is changing to SingleAtThisAge.com — the header probably told you as much. One other change is that the stories will be just that, stories. No lectures. No bad advice. Just vignettes about living as a single woman, on the Sweet Side of 40, getting by with a little help from her dog and a lot of help from her friends. Please stay tuned. And please share this sort-of love story with your friends and Swedes.