The extreme quick of it: That subject line probably isn’t the best way to start a blog entry, but you’ll understand if you read it all. I am no longer in residence permit limbo. I have been granted Swedish permanent residence for five years. Before that, in about a year, I am eligible to apply for Swedish citizenship (while retaining my Americanosity). So that’s that. I’ve also been on vacation back to Louisiana with a sisters-only vacay at a resort in Turks and Caicos. For more information on those, you’ll have to wait until next time, because I’ve apparently managed to delete all my vacation photos save those on the trusty iPhone. MUTHAFUCK. So I’m going to have to figure that out. Merp. Alas, per usual, there’s…
The long of it: Those who aren’t strangers know I thrive on a delicate balance of being a happy homebody and a wonder-struck wanderer. Moreover, those who have traveled with me will admit, perhaps after a bit of prodding, that I am exhausting. It’s not my quietness, my disappearing to take photos, my fear of sneaky meat or my reluctance to ask for directions. It’s just that I don’t.stop.going.
This pushpushpushpush shows itself in various ways–most memorably Brandi and I breaking down in a boisterous, unstoppable round of cackling in a stairwell at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London because our feet refused to cooperate any longer. Plus, well, there’s a post-Berlin bus trip that I’d love to forget. It involved mental collapse, not enough water, excessive vomiting and seeing my camera shutter close every time I blinked.
Yet I’ve learned I’m at my worst when I’m not a tourist, but a tour guide. Poor Karl’s survived the worst of it. Pause, for just a second, to imagine the well-meaning beast I became the first time I showed my love around my hometown and self-actualization stomping grounds. During Mardi Gras at that. I took someone who had never stepped foot in America to New Orleans during Mardi Gras–not just to revel, but to meet my family and friends. WHAT WAS I THINKING? I was thinking with the best of my heart, that’s what, but not so much with my head. But holy shit, y’all, he’s still by my side.
Since moving to Sweden, I’ve had four visitors from the States. I get it. Sweden isn’t high up there on the vacation destination wish list. And it’s expensive as fuck. Plus, it’s rather easy for me to meet people elsewhere on ‘the continent,’ which I happily do when I can. And three out of four of those visitors came before April 2010, when Sweden was still rather fresh, so to speak. They got an experience, for sure, but I was still learning, too.
Pause again to imagine the well-intentioned monster I became when Sarita, a best friend since our first day on the bus to McKinley Senior High (that’s fall of 1998, for the record), bought her ticket to Copenhagen. Bless her, she survived, too, though I’m sure I’m at least partly to blame for her returning home with sickness. I exhausted, her, I tell you. And she was supposed to be on vacation. Whoops.
We went to Copenhagen twice. We went to Gothenburg just for one day. We rented a car for Karl to drive us around Skåne–stopping to see our garden, my old corridor in Lund, Karl’s parent’s house and his forest playground, an outdoor art museum in Wånas and a harbour town. She experienced a Swedish crawfish party and the disgusting (sorry Swedes) shots that go with it. She ate falafel with halloumi, twice. She biked in a hurry on my crappy extra bike with several bags of groceries. She experienced the deplorable quality of Sweden’s service industry. She saw a sad, dying mole. She got to try on the invisible bike helmet. She met several very important people. She was honored, yet confused when both Karl and I accidentally kept talking at her in Swedish. She did loads more. She did it all as Hurricane Isaac plotted his course toward Louisiana on Katrina’s anniversary. And 1.5ish days before she would have to board a plane home, she found out her grandmother died and that she’d have to return to work sooner than expected. Well, shit, we probably should have slowed down.
But selfishly I wouldn’t let her because I needed her to get it: the draw, the appeal, the reasons. I needed her to see the perks of life here. Really though, it was me who needed to see everything. I was overdue for seeing my life, and Sweden, through an outsider’s eyes. And it feels like it hasn’t completely felt before. My two feet are planted somewhere I’m proud to be and excited to show off. Sounds like I’ve officially added another place to call home.
Click on one of us bouncing souls for a photo slideshow from both homes. (Don’t forget to click ‘show info’ so things make sense.)