All photographs have been provided by Hanna Andersson and copyright remains with her.
I am the writer you will see jotting down thoughts and conversations on the tube home after a night out or a first date. I bring my notebook with me to capture my feelings, what was said, how the scene looked and smelled, or what reactions I witnessed throughout the night. The slightly red in my date’s beard, my underwear grabbing on to my bum, or the yellow lager, and the seductive smell, served in the wrong type of glass. I do this because what inspires me the most is places.
I struggle to write from home. Because home is a place full of distractions. I get stuck. As soon as I switch scenery I can clear my head and find new strength and inspiration. And I like big contrasts.
London is full of contrasts. The city with it’s metal and glass, Richmond Park with its deer and wilderness. Finding new places doesn’t take much time or effort. Just go from West to East or South to North and you will experience new nuances and explore new possibilities.
Two years ago I went up to Hampstead Heath. I lay down on the big field with London skyline before me. I took selfies. The light was perfect. Dogs were running, the wind was blowing, but it was peaceful. Until I spotted a couple standing a few hundred meters from me. The girl was standing with her arms crossed, looking towards the view. The boy was looking down, gesturing with his hands. He was breaking up with her, and I couldn’t stop looking at them. She didn’t cry, she didn’t scream at him. She just listened until he had said what probably broke her heart. Then he hugged her, and walked down the hill. She turned the other way, and as she passed me I could hear how she started crying. She took up her phone, and I remember thinking about who she might call in this moment. A sister? A friend? Her mother? This inspired me to write the conversation she then had with whomever was there to support her, and I will remember that time at the heath forever.
I have loved the lights, the lipstick compliments, the tequila shots and how lemon juice run down the neck. High confident in converses in Camden. Scared in short skirts in Chelsea. I have flirted, I have pulled. I have denied and I have cock blocked. I have been drugged, I have stopped fights. And it all has led to notebooks filled with impressions, funny outfits, drunken thoughts and painfully honest passages.
My many nights out in London have influenced several short stories and pieces of flash fiction. This is my flash fiction ‘Nowhere to Somewhere':
Lights flashing. Ntz ntz. Sweat. Soaking your shirt. Soaking my dress. Hips. Hands. Here and now. Wet lips. Poisoned with the rush from a bottle. Here and now. Shivering. Between happiness and nowhere. The nowhere where you float, run, fly. Here and now. The nowhere of here and now. Ntz ntz. Closed eyes, breathing heavy. Surrounded by bodies, enjoying, craving, hoping. People, looking for a night of nowhere. Sex on fire. Fire. Fireballs. More and greedier we drink. To reach nowhere. Hands. Reaching towards stars above as we glide out on the streets. Traffic signs flashing. Sweat turns into salty ice, we need to find somewhere. Hands. Hips. Close together to find comfort and warmth. Somewhere. The somewhere where you touch, feel, escape. Surrounded by bodies, wanting, needing, hoping. Looking for somewhere. Somewhere to end the morning. From nowhere to somewhere.
A place that I love visiting, and that always makes my hands tingle, is Barcelona. One of my best friends, Emil, has lived there for almost two and a half years now, and every time I go to visit I just want to write.
Barcelona is one of my favourite cities and very different from my other “homes”.
I go to café’s and order ‘un café con leche’, read travel writing and look at the surroundings. It smells different. Like vegetables, sun, and salt water. All I want is to get up early, hang out with the locals, visit as many cafés and vegetarian restaurants as possible and enjoy the siesta before going to the beach, drink clara (beer and lemon juice), and watch sun kissed people preparing for the night. I want to be inspired by neighbourhoods like Barri Gótic, Gracia, and El Born and see them come alive with people and music.
Barcelona inspires me to get to know new people, new cultures and the conflict between Catalan and Spain.
Every time I go to Stockholm I find myself going down in tempo. Like I can take deeper breathes. Although it’s a big city I feel more relaxed than when I walk through the streets of London. In Stockholm I enjoy walking, with a coffee in my hand, and taking photos of the water, the buildings, and the people.
I was born in Stockholm. 26 years ago. I can still feel a connection to the capital. They talk like me there. I can see the ambition and the strength this city possesses and I know so many successful and important people that call it their home. My family lives there. It’s the place where I remember collecting conkers, playing with my first Barbie doll, and experiencing my first ever concert; Spice Girl at the Globe. I remember saying, “Mamma, please don’t ever allow me to go to a concert and stand like that,” pointing to the barricades where girls were pushed against the hard surface. My mum smiled but said of course.
Stockholm is the perfect place for reflecting, for analysing and thinking about writing, what inspires and contrasts in life.
A city I am dying to visit as a writer is Paris. I have been to Paris once, when I was 16 and my whole family drove from Sweden to visit Disneyland. It was an awesome trip. But, I am yet to discover Paris as the city where Ernest Hemingway or the Fitzgeralds hung out. I can´t wait to visit the bars they once visited, to walk the streets where they swayed their way home with a cigarette in hand, and to live the Paris life they lived. With, maybe, a bit less naughtiness.