Anja Snellman


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Each couple has its Asia. Usually Asia comes first in a relationship, although the two lovers and the nature of their love determine where it all begins and where it ends.

When in Asia, couples mostly make love, eat by candlelight, hold hands for the slightest reason, and write lists about the things they have in common. They send letters, call for no reason, feel a constant tingling in their hands, and hear blackbirds sing.

All is extremes in Asia: hot spells, monsoon rains, flowers with petals as large as a face. Bombay, Colombo, Palembang, Surabaya. Dark, moist names of places—words that sound like lovemaking or memories on skin.


Australia may seem remote, with a peculiar outline and long distances, but the transition to Australia is gradual, almost unnoticed. Australia is often a time of happiness similar to Asia. It is the continent of new routines, practical concerns, and exotic coincidences—a harried but happy life.

Sharks lurk along the shores of Australia, and couples become slightly worried about the state of affairs. She may find herself thinking about going through his pockets, and he may be tempted to take a peek into her journal.

Despite the worries and concerns, nothing escalates in Australia—not the doubts, jealousy, or suspicion. A new day brings new twists and turns.


Couples arrive in America with a bang. America is a time for achievement and bloom. New jobs and opportunities await. The children start school and try new hobbies only to abandon them.

America has great plains, tornadoes, and roaring waters, but future threats and past concerns are not overwhelming, and everyday does not sound like a curse. Self-esteem and self-confidence run high.

In America, any need for variety is channeled into work and hobbies. Couples seek new challenges and adrenaline rushes, and gleefully act on a whim.


When love arrives in Africa, life is marked by more fears than before, more dry seasons, swarms of moths, sunburned grass, chilly nights, and silence. Lonely, sleepless nights are typical of Africa. Nightly winds that blow the chimes and throw twigs at windows.

In Africa, memories come and go like migrant birds. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell reality from dreams, how things turned out and how you wish they would have gone.

Africa is a time for exploration, mainly for expeditions to the self. Uncharted regions where you are almost too afraid to venture. Unsettled areas, deserts, jungles, darkness, strange noises.


Europe is studded with remnants of the past. Childhood friends appear, and you never really know what you should say to them. Friends from youth seek you out and call to ask how you really are.

Couples have arrived in Europe when home improvement projects bring variety to life. Neighbors can compare renovations over hedges, and such discussions tend to grow longer and longer.

In the middle of Europe, the kids stay out late and the parents have nothing better to do than to watch television. She walks across the room naked, and he never raises his eyes from the newspaper.


Greenland is the world’s largest island that is not a continent. It is needed to soften the fall to Antarctica. For those who end up there, Greenland is the beginning of the end.

Couples slip, slide, and slither to Greenland. All of a sudden, they can see their breaths, and they start to shiver. They have to mind their step and keep their hands in their pockets; the relationship has become drafty.

Fifteen thousand icebergs break off of Greenland every year. One of them sank the Titanic.


Feelings in Antarctica are almost as intense as in Asia. Couples engage in nightly discussions and move mattresses from one room to another. They slam doors, and they fall asleep on the couch and eventually in the bathtub in the early hours of the morning.

In Antarctica, many couples have their first uninhibited, full-blown fights. He kicks a hole through the bathroom door. She sweeps the dishes off the table. He roars. She spits. Their story fills with shadows, caves, gorges, crevasses.

Ships steer clear of the blocks of ice. The pack ice moves with currents and winds. Whales moan. To think that, millions of years ago, Antarctica used to be green, tropical, lush.

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