I have been thinking a lot about heading home, as it’s only about three weeks before I leave Boston for Stockholm.
I’ve been contemplating what I want to bring back with me: books in English; clothes in sizes I understand, made by brands I know; photos and printed materials… all of these things that seem cheaper to get here, even after the transportation costs and carbon footprint of packing them and taking them with me on a plane.
It’s the things I can’t take with me that are a bit more priceless: seeing the Flatirons from every parking lot in town and hiking in the Rocky Mountains; the cheap and excellent craft beers made at local brew pubs; the farmers’ market and fresh and abundant vegetables and, late in the summer, fruits.
While there are costs and goods associated with these experiences, most of them are just that: experiences that cannot be transplanted, very much a part of the local geography. If I were to stay here longer, I’d need a car to take advantage of some of them; I might get even more frustrated with the consumer culture. But really, it’s the concert tickets that might send me a bit over the edge, and it’s not that they are expensive here in Boulder, oh no. It’s the cost of the experience in Stockholm.
I saw an ad the other day for a new album from an artist I like and I clicked through on his concert schedule — lo and behold, he’s coming to perform in Stockholm in a few months! Tomorrow night in DC, a ticket to see this artist costs about $40. That’s two “yuppie coupons,” or two 20s, which in my world at the moment seems eminently reasonable. That’s about 350 SEK at today’s exchange rate.
But the tickets to see this same artist perform in Stockholm at Göta Lejon (the “great lion,” a theater on Södermalm) are about 540 SEK — that’s close to 70 bucks. Wait, what?
I had the same problem earlier this year when I found out I had missed my chance to buy tickets to see Elvis Costello perform here in Boulder at the Boulder Theater. I missed the first sales of tickets, when the cheaper balcony seats were going for about $40 or $50. Well worth it, I’d say, to see an artist I love in concert.
After the concert sold out, folks were re-selling blocks of tickets online, for up to $200 apiece. I had to pass. But I remember thinking: That’s about how much tickets had cost a few years ago, for Costello’s performance in Stockholm at Hotel Rival, when they first went on sale.
Normal price: $200. Gah.
So, today, I just persuaded Matt to purchase tickets for that September concert. It’s an experience, embedded in a geographic place — perhaps I have to learn to accept that live music is just worth more in Sweden. Just as I have to learn to accept that medicine is socialized there, and not here; that clothing and food are cheaper here than there; and that I don’t need a car in Stockholm, even though I really, really want one here in Boulder, now that I have lived here long enough to have been reminded of their utility and (at least some) life-improving qualities. (But that’s a topic for another post.)
I must embrace, or at least appreciate, these different styles of living. When in Rome, as they say, or Stockholm or Boulder … !