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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities


To the left is where I live in Stockholm, Sweden. Below is where my parent's live in Palm Springs, California, United States of America. I love both of these places. It is a bit unfortunate that the Atlantic ocean and 9 time zones separate these two places. I have a deep longing in my heart to live in both places at the same time and thus I must contend with feeling a little bit split about where I want to be in my current life situation. The blessing in all of this is that at least I am torn between two entirely different places that I love.
Take Palm Springs for example. It is 7.00 a.m. as I sit on my parent's porch watching the sun break over the mountains bringing light and warmth to this desert paradise. The way in which the sun casts a purple hue on the surrounding mountains and paints the sky in the deepest blue is hard to beat. I love, love, love the mornings out here. The dawn breaks quickly here so one minute it's gray and shadowy and in the next the color palette is displaying its glory all around.
On the other hand, the splendor of Stockholm is quite easy to behold as well. The architecture of the city, the surrounding water and beautiful city parks make it easy to enjoy the fun of being in a big city while easily getting a nature fix just minutes from our downtown apartment building. I'm not a fan of winter, but admittedly, there's nothing quite like the beauty of freshly-fallen snow creating a visual that causes the city to appear to be frosted with wedding cake icing. And then there's the summer. After the hemmed in feelings of the dark winter, the summer light bursts forth creating new life for all who encounter it. The light in Stockholm is so special. The way the sun dances on the landscape is a visual feast in both summer and winter. I love that during the summer, nothing I do is done in the dark. I walk the dog in daylight. I go to bed and get up in daylight. I get off work at 4.00 p.m. and still have a full 7 hours of daylight ahead of me to enjoy. I love the long days of summer and I know that I would miss that.
On the other hand, I really do not like winter that much. It's a season that takes up more than its fair share of the year and in Sweden, it just doesn't really know when to quit. So, for instance, while I've been in California for these last days of March, enjoying high 70's and low 80's Fahrenheit, Stockholm has gotten more snow and the waterways remain frozen. The calendar is screaming, "IT'S SPRING, IT'S SPRING" and winter is laughing in its face. But what I have noticed here in California is that there is little appreciation for good weather because well, they have good weather most of the time. In fact, it's the bad weather that really excites people. Something different to talk about. The rain, the wind, the big storm that created quite a commotion. It's funny. Weather is a big topic in both places.

Now, admittedly, summer in Palm Springs could be considered the 10th circle of Dante's Inferno. It is not a nice place to be when the mercury exceeds 110 degrees F day after day. It gets really interesting when it climbs into the 120's. So, in this little tale of two cities, on the one hand, winter is a drag in Sweden. On the other hand, summer is a drag in Palm Springs.
Perhaps you are gaining some clarity on why I love both places. Each delights my senses in totally different ways.
I love my life in Sweden. I love that my parents live in California. I know that being on vacation in Palm Springs is a totally different tale than actually living here, finding a meaningful vocation and figuring out how to pay the bills. I love living in Europe and enjoying the benefits of that lifestyle while at the same time I do grow weary of being a foreigner and at times long for the familiarity of my home country. I also know that I feel like a foreigner in the US at times after living abroad for almost 11 years. I love shopping in America, skipping the 25% sales tax that Sweden imposes, marveling at the prolific bounty of choices in the grocery store, how inexpensive and available everything seems to be. And yet, I weary of the excessive nature of America, how wasteful we are as a nation, how fast and furious the lifestyle seems. Even thinking about returning to a job that requires 50 plus hours a week with only 3-4 weeks of vacation a year exhausts me. I love my husband and my dog and my church and we just bought a new little boat that ensures hours of good times on the Baltic Sea...if we have a warm summer that is! And I love my parents and just have to accept that for now, our visits will be few and far between but rich and satisfying when we get the chance to cross that big, bad ocean that separates us. Yes, it's paradise in Palm Springs during the winter. And it's paradise in Stockholm during the summer. The ideal existence for me would be May-September in Sweden. October-April in Palm Springs. I guess the only thing the prevents us from realizing that dream is the ability to own property in both places. For now, I am thankful for the lovely home that we enjoy at Tegnergatan 4 thanks to the generous folks at Immanuel Church. And I am thankful for the desert getaway I get to enjoy thanks to generosity of my folks who I hope will reside at 127 Mecca for a very long time indeed.