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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Changing Landscape of My Life

The view from the plane as we soared over Utah.
I've been back in Sweden a week and a day.  The transition always contains challenges. Even flying business class both directions couldn't stave off the usual difficult transition between my "worlds."  While I feel that Sweden is "my home", I also feel that I am leaving "my home" every time I depart from the U.S. 
This is one of my favorite landscapes.
But so is this.
My heart is filled with part joy in living in Sweden and Europe, part fatigue from living in a foreign environment, part longing to be back in the familiar landscape of America and part horror at how weird the U.S. feels to me at times. Inevitably, within 48 hours of being back, I feel frustrated with Sweden and want to move, anywhere, tomorrow. (Usually by the next tomorrow I love my life here again. Learning that these feelings are an inevitable part of returning to Sweden after being gone has helped minimize the drama I can bring to our family around this issue.)  Add a little jet lag and disrupted sleep patterns and you can understand why I always feel a little crazy when making this transition.
The inevitable onslaught of the autumn ministry season is in full tilt, made a bit more intense by the fact that our summer looked so differently than we had expected, but alas, life moves on and we are trying to catch the train that just keeps on rolling by.
One thing that I have never adjusted to in the 13 years that we've been here is that autumn really does start in August here.  And I'm not just talking about the start of school...I'm talking about the weather.  I left a roasting 105F (41C) and returned to coolish 60'sF (15C), often low 60's.  sigh.  I'm not ready for it to be autumn be done swimming in the Baltic and riding on the boat and walking  Tanner in shorts and a t-shirt.  Now I know that those of you in the US and other parts of the world who are suffering through the "dog days of summer" are thinking I'm crazy for wanting the heat to linger, but keep in mind that a roasting hot day up here is like 80F (26C) and we get like, one a year!  Also, we have the perfect hot days here...low humidity, no bugs, light all night.  We just don't get enough of it.  On my last day in Palm Springs I lounged in the pool, face to the sun, trying to soak in all the vitamin D that I could, seeking an uncomfortable heat that might sustain me as I jettisoned back to this cooler place.  I loved every minute of it.
And yet, even Stockholm has served up a few nice days in the midst of the autumn tease.  Sunday we got out on the boat, in shorts and t-shirts and didn't even need a jacket.  Tanner was the only one who swam, but at least we were out in the archipelago, enjoying a warm sun.  And today, I walked shorts and a t-shirt.  Sure, there were already leaves on the ground, but it was still pretty green and the water was blue and beckoning.  Tanner swam.  I did not.  But I am kind of determined to get in the water one more time before it freezes over and we're able to walk on it.
Sometimes I wonder how a girl from Southern California who actually revels in 100 plus degree dry, roasting heat ended up so far north.  When I married Doug I almost made him put in our wedding vows, "And I promise to not move you any further north." I was thinking Duluth at that point but I clearly underestimated how far north God would take us.
I keep telling myself that I am really not that shallow, that climate should not have such a significant role in determining my life outlook...Oh, and did I mention that I keep telling myself that?
In between wanting to move and being overwhelmed by Americanisms that I don't understand, I suppose it's safe to admit that I love my life.  I just don't care much for the transitions.