17 Jun 2024
Love Refugee: Lost in Translation?
Fiction Love Refugee

Love Refugee: Lost in Translation?

Stockholm Coffee festival

Love Refugee is YLC’s fiction serial; a romantic comedy about expat and confirmed singleton Ellie, determined to avoid commitment at any cost…

I had a little speech prepared – well, perhaps not quite as formal as a speech as such, but… remarks, just in case. The usual: we work together, pressure of launch, you’re really great but let’s not make things complicated… But as it turned out, I didn’t need it. The next morning, Gustaf was completely casual and normal, as though nothing had happened, which I suppose it didn’t, really. It was just a conversation. So that was that. Best all round.

Anyway, moving on. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been getting my morning coffee at this quirky little coffee shop just around the corner from the office. One thing I love about Stockholm is that most of the coffee shops seem to be little one off places – I’ve noticed a couple chains, but little unique cafés with tons of character seem to be in the majority. And this particular one comes with the added bonus of a very cute server dude.

He’s got these awesome dreads and super smiley, and always flirts a little. At least, I think so.

You know when you’re talking to someone and they hold direct eye contact just a little bit longer than strictly necessary, and you think, hello…?

Well he does that and also kids around about teaching me Swedish. He taught me en kaffe, tack, and every morning when I say it makes a big deal about how impressive my Swedish is, in a tongue in cheek (because it seriously isn’t impressive!) kidding around kind of way, and it’s nice. It puts a smile on my face in the morning.

So, because I’ve never believed in any nonsense about waiting for the guy to make the first move or anything, yesterday morning, as we were chatting while he made my coffee, I asked him what time he finished work and if he wanted to go for a beer. No big deal, just a casual beer to chat a bit more and maybe, if nothing else, make a new friend in a city where I don’t know anyone.

He pretty much reacted as though I’d proposed.

He blushed and got all stammery and muttered that he was busy that night and the following night and pretty much every night for the rest of his life.

Alright then. I mean, no big deal really, you win some you lose some, but I have to admit that I was a little bit stung. Mostly because I felt confused; normally I’m fairly good at reading flirty signals, and his reaction made it clear that I had most definitely got it wrong this time. Bit rubbish, but oh well, I suppose there are greater crimes in life!

Over wine that night, I told Liv about it all. She said that the fact he panicked didn’t necessarily mean that he hadn’t been flirting too, which made me feel a bit better. Swedish guys, according to her, tend to be desperately shy and make their moves at a speed similar to that at which continents form, so me suggesting elevating things to a beer after only knowing each other a couple of weeks would have thrown him for a loop.

When she met her ex, she knew him for two years through mutual friends before he asked for her number, and even then they texted for another six months before going out alone together. I asked how she had stood it, and she just shrugged and said it was normal.

That then made me think a little bit about Andreas, and the fact that I had thought he was coming on a bit ‘serious relationship’ so quickly. If going for a drink – zero big deal at all where I come from – practically indicates lifelong commitment here, then no wonder the poor guy was confused.

I walked home that night feeling a little bit blue for the first time since I arrived here.

I suppose I had vaguely assumed that my dating life would carry on pretty much as normal here, just that the guys would be a bit taller, maybe.

But in fact, it’s a whole new culture and I found myself feeling a bit out of my depth with all this, for the first time since I was about twelve.

Apparently it’s not just the language I have to learn here, but the language of love too…


Featured Image: Matteo Piotto/Flickr (file)


  • Nell 23 May 2014

    Don’t worry Ellie – there are other fish in the sea! Coffee man sounds weird anyway as I’m sure you are a gorgeous girl! xx

  • […] Read more at Your Living City… […]

  • Kelly L McKenzie 28 May 2014

    Of course you smiled and nodded at the chatty niece. As would I. Oh my lord but this is me just about everyday of my life – well at least according to my two darlings and most severe critics that are my children. Hmmm. What to do? I think you’d best come clean. Sooner or later you’ll be like me and be out and about with another English speaking pal and you’ll run into her. Intros will be necessary and you’ll flounder. Niece will have English and she’ll say “Of course I knew Claire had little Swedish and I’ve been making fun of her everytime we meet…” Yep – ‘fess up. Sooner the better.
    Off to see if Life is Swede is kobo material …
    Fingers crossed.

  • Kelly L McKenzie 28 May 2014

    Ooops above comment meant for today’s post. Ah well you’re bound to figure it out …

    • Claire 29 May 2014

      Argh the consensus seems to be to come clean… which means I had better. Interesting thought that she has been making fun of me the whole time, I wouldn’t put that past the Swedish sense of humour!

      I suspect it won’t be yet as so far I’ve just uploaded a Kindle version to Amazon – but part of my to-do list for the next couple of days is sorting out other versions for other sites… so if it’s not it will be soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.