Saturday, December 6th 2014. We’ve been here almost five days now.
Leaving England was harder than I thought it was going to be. In all likelihood it wasn’t the last time, but in a way it felt… penultimate. With each take-off and landing I get closer to the looming crossroads, the decision that I’m terrified of making.
Where do we put down our suitcases?
As our world tilted and we climbed away from the rolling moors that swathed clustered cityscapes, I ached for home. Silly to cry for the comfort of lukewarm pasties, sub-par public transport and the BBC News jingle, but I did.
It got easier though. It’d been a morning flight, but the light was seeping from Stockholm by the time we arrived (J later said it was funny that we’d managed to fit our entire “day” into two hours). As we descended through the clouds, we saw the sunset reflected on the ocean; a rich orange glow illuminating the dense woodland, throwing shadows across winding roads and colourful houses. Joy bloomed in my chest, melting away my sadness – and though I still ached, at least I was smiling.
It still took a little while to settle in once we arrived back at J’s house. The first night I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep, but instead we ended up at the end of a long table eating nötkött och potatisgratäng with extended family (who, aside from a few “welcome back”s, made no attempt to speak to either of us). The food was good, but I felt the all-too-familiar cold claws of anxiety grasping at my throat as I chewed. I can’t join in, I don’t know what they’re saying… will I ever know what they’re saying?
The next few days were much of the same, though of course there have been positives. Coming here has helped me shift a weight I’ve been carrying around on my shoulders the past few months at least: for some reason, it’s far too easy for me to “fester” in my comfort zone and leaving it has been a relief, however jarring the experience.
And Friday? In the end, yesterday was great. J let me sleep in and made me breakfast, we watched a movie together and had the house to ourselves until the evening. We went outside for a little while (and I mean a little – Jesus, it’s cold here in the winter!) and then ate dinner with his parents. And whilst I did still feel anxious to begin with, it lifted… especially after J’s neighbour paid us a visit. She seemed genuinely happy to see me, hugged me and congratulated me on passing my driving test – she’s a little eccentric, but very easy going and probably the most calming presence aside from J himself. After asking me about how much Swedish I’d learnt, she convinced me to say “Det snöar” in front of J and co. (“It’s snowing” – it’s not, but we can hope!), which I apparently managed with jättebra pronunciation – another tiny step, but it felt pretty good!
Hopefully once the seesaw of emotions settles down, I’ll figure out how to shift this mental block that stops me speaking Swedish unless forced. If other people manage it, I can, right? *crosses fingers*