I can’t recall a single meal

Högbergsgatan 11 (credit: http://www.angelfire.com)

Högbergsgatan 11 (credit: http://www.angelfire.com)

I vividly remember the house on Högbergsgatan on Södermalm in Stockholm, where I lived on the ground floor with my mother, grandmother and grandfather during the first decade of my life, 60-70 years ago.

I remember the physical features of the house, and also the four-room apartment we lived in. I recall the outline and ambience of the rooms, the hallway, the bathroom, and the kitchen. And I still remember the distribution of light and shades throughout the apartment at different times of the day.

But I remember very little about the family members and our daily activities. And I can’t recall a single meal!

I must have had around 7,000 breakfasts, dinners and Sunday lunches in that apartment. I clearly remember where the sideboard stood, and the shape and colour of the dinner table! But not a single meal has survived in my memory. Not a single one!

Summer 1951 (4 years old) titled "Gröt är bra att ha i magen innan man börjar dagen".

Summer 1951 (4 years old) titled “Gröt är bra att ha i magen innan man börjar dagen”.

There is photographic evidence that I had meals :-). But only in two photos, and none of them in our apartment in Stockholm. One (on the left) is of me with a plate of porridge, probably outside my grandparents’ summer house in Bergshamra, some 50 km north of Stockholm. I was 4½ years old when it was taken.

In the other photo, taken in 1954 when I was 7 years old, I’m having breakfast with my grandmother on the porch.

Breakfast on the porch. Summer of 1954.

“Sunny breakfast” on the porch. Summer of 1954.

(Seeing these two photos today suddenly makes me remember one small thing though: I often (or always?) had graham flour porridge, and sometimes cornflakes, with milk for breakfast. But I still don’t remember the ambience of the meals.)

I have read somewhere that we tend to forget the mundane activites of our earlier life. Dressing, undressing, brushing one’s teeth, eating porridge and potatoes are such everyday events. They are the fundament of our lives, and yet they easily get lost in time.

So maybe it’s quite natural that I don’t remember any of the ~7,000 meals I had during the first decade of my life. But it’s also sad that such an important aspect of life has disappeared altogether from my memory. Instead of having to remember the day when I found out I was a mistake.


Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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