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Friday, February 13, 2009

Transition

It's been ages since I've posted. I think about it a lot and have many thoughts about what to post, etc. but time and energy upon returning to Sweden after being in the US are both enemies of blogging. Thanks for reading anyway in spite of my sporadic musings.
So, once again we made the trip back across the pond from America to Sweden. Coming back this way also contains its share of weirdnesses and emotions for me. I am always tense when we are getting ready to return. For one thing, we carry LOADS of luggage. We each get two bags that can weigh up to 50 pounds each and seriously, all 4 of our bags were like 49.5 pounds. It is a colossal hassle and I stew internally until the very moment that they are tagged and taken away. At least I can forget about them for the entirety of the flight. What, you may be asking, do we bring back to Sweden that weighs so much? Everything. It's all cheaper on the other side of the pond, with the exception of potatoes which would be a sick thing to carry in our luggage anyway. So it's amazing how much brownie mix, cornbread mix, over the counter cold medicine, razors, and make-up can weigh. Throw in a few pairs of new shoes, some new clothes, and books, books, books galore, it's quite easy to see those 200 pounds get taken care of.
We had a bit of drama this time around because one of my dad's friends, and someone who has subsequently become our friend, painted us the most amazing portrait of our dog, Tanner. (Note the photo above!) My father had sent him a cool photo of our good looking guy and well, Dennis is really talented and so we were gifted to receive this stunningly gorgeous portrait of Tanner. Beautifully framed and really, just so lovely to look at. I cried when he gave it to us and then cried some more when I considered how we were going to get it home with our other 200 pounds of baggage. Fortunately we lucked out with nice ticket agents. One let us carry it on and even though we had to open the perfectly packaged box and pollute security with Styrofoam peanuts, we skipped the $100.00 bag charge from Palm Springs to Chicago. The kindness of a friend who works at the Scandinavian Airlines counter in Chicago helped us bypass the $200.00 charge it would've been from Chicago to Stockholm. We all made it, with the exception of one bag that got separated from us in Copenhagen. That pile of goods arrived a bit later than we did but it arrived in tact. Now we just have to decide where to hang the painting and how to light it. It is so lovely. Thank you Dennis.
Making the transition from the US to the Sweden seriously reminds you why traveling light in this world is a good idea. You buy all this stuff. You stuff the stuff in a suitcase. You haul it over the ocean. You finally get the stuff home and then you have to unpack it all and stuff it in your closets. It is seriously a full time job unpacking and getting everything put away. I have learned to clean out cupboards before we go because once back the jet lag just robs you of any energy you thought you might have after being on vacation for almost a month. You may be asking yourself, if it is such a hassle, why do you do it? Because once we accomplish the task, I love having my little American goodies around me when I need them. These weird things are small comforts when you are feeling out of sorts in your foreign country.
It is always weird for me to re-enter Swedish society. I usually have a huge breakdown within the first week. I know Doug just waits for it, pondering when within the first 4 days I will have a complete and total meltdown. It took until Tuesday this time around. Even though we've lived here for 10.5 years and even though I am very happy here, and even though I think moving back to the US now would be even more colossally weird than living here, I struggle. I don't know what it is...the coldness of the society, the way things run at church sometimes, the lack of creativity when I grocery shop...these things just get under my skin and rub me raw. I've learned to expect the breakdown and not put any stock in my emotions. Doug knows that I need to come unglued during our transition back and that I will land on my feet and be happy again reasonably soon. I suppose wrapped up in all of it is the reality that we live quite far from our homeland. No matter how long we live here, the USA will always be our home country. And I know that I want to live there again one day. I know that part of the stress of transitioning back is the sadness I feel in being separated from my parents especially now as we walk the precarious and uncertain road of my mom's cancer. And I'm just tired when we get back. So tired. Jet lag is a drag. There's just no other way to put it. And while I'm not worn out tired like I was before we went, I am sleep deprived and don't feel quite myself. I've even landed myself with a little bit of illness on this first Friday back. Good thing I have Nyquil in my cupboard.
I suppose I will always live between two worlds in some ways. When I'm in Sweden and we're going to the US, I speak of going home. When we're in the US and heading back to Sweden, I speak of going home. Both are right. And while I struggle during the early days of our transition, I also recall a week ago feeling very glad that we were going home to Sweden. I missed my dog. I missed our beautiful home. I missed our loving congregation. I missed my dear friends here. Hard as it, I'm happy to know both worlds.