We're finally home! That day of traveling is so rough but we had a great time while we were gone, so it was all worth it. I still can't believe that it had been five years since we were there. I really want that to not happen again. It was just too much time. It's also a little hard to believe that M has lived here almost ten years now, in October, and ten years ago this summer was the year I was in Sweden for the full summer. That was an amazing life experience sort of summer, and while I was sitting on the plane Sunday, I thought of all the other return trips I've made, including that first one where I was alone. I still had a year of college left to go and plans for M to move that fall, but if he had asked me to stay right then, I would have. I had enough self-control not to suggest it myself because it was so not the path we had chosen, but I could so easily see myself settling into life there for a while. And... where would we be now? I would have eventually found myself a job (one would hope) and then.. would we have ever gotten around to moving back here? Or would we have put down strong enough roots that we didn't want to change our whole life? And if we HAD moved back after a couple of years, as was our other plan (we considered me living there first and then moving here, but we always knew we wanted to stay here in the end) what kind of job situation would we have ended up with? And it goes without saying that we wouldn't have this house or THIS child... if we'd have had either one of those at all. It's just so freaky to think about how one decision could have changed so much.
It was interesting, though. Last time we were there, it felt completely natural, like we should be going home to our own house at the end of every day, like we were living there all along. It made us both kind of wish we COULD do the living in Sweden thing. This time, it did not feel like anything other than a vacation, and it made me feel less like I wanted to actually live there than before. It's not that there was anything BAD or WRONG that would make me say that. I think it's just that we're so settled now, here, in our own little life, that starting over sounds miserable. I know I'm just 31 but I feel too OLD for that sort of lifestyle change. So yeah. I don't want to move back, but I really want us to not go so long without visiting that it feels like everything is unfamiliar.
I don't know. It's just difficult sometimes, to be away from the other side of your family. It matters even more to me now that I have Evie, and I want her to have a close relationship with M's family, and to be familiar with her full cultural heritage.. not just the American part. As far as my inlaws go, we still don't know each other really well, because we don't get to spend that much time together, but we're much closer now than we were before say, the last time they came over to visit. I have been putting some effort into that for the last couple of years. Plus, there is still the language issue. Their English was pretty good to start with, and it's gotten better in the last ten years, with practice, but it's still not something they're totally comfortable with.
Speaking of language, my Swedish had passively improved a lot in the last five years. I'd mostly stopped trying, and had forgotten a lot of words that I knew. It was almost freaky to feel them coming back, plus some. I was at the point last time of sort of being able to hear what someone was talking about, but not necessarily what they were saying about it. This time, it was the same, except I was able to understand much larger portions of what was being said, and some entire conversations were fully processed. My biggest problem is that I am seriously shy about speaking and getting something wrong, so I get no practice with pronunciation or with stringing words together. So yeah, we're back on the bandwagon re: language. I always say this but I have a renewed determination this time, and hopefully it will stick because even before we went, I was trying hard to work on Evie's Swedish. It's dismal, to be perfectly frank. She clearly understands more than we think so does, based on a few things we noticed while there. This is the best example: M's mom told him, in Swedish, that there were nectarines in the refrigerator. She was standing across the room at the sink and not motioning at the fridge or anything. Evie looked up from her breakfast and said, "There's WHAT in the fridge, Daddy?" Completely didn't know she knew that word before. So, I think that's a promising sign. It's just daunting to consider teaching a second language to a three-year-old, but it's too late to do anything other than regret that we didn't stick with it in the beginning. I do have some pretty good ideas on where to go from here (I think) and we WILL be increasing her exposure, effective immediately. (Actually, effective three months ago to some degree, but especially now.)
Also, we may or may not have brought home thirty kids books in Swedish. Literally. They weren't all purchased by us, and some were bought used at a flea market, and the rest were bought on sale, but STILL. That is INSANE. Added to M's desire to bring home three LOGS (no kidding), we used every bit of weight we had available to us. You can have fifty pounds per suitcase. We had three of them filled up to within about a quarter of a pound each, which rather impressed the airline agent. The other was over by like two pounds--Whitley had a few pounds to spare so we threw some of our crap in there. They didn't charge us for it, at least.
We had several cameras going this time--ours, Whitley's, his mom's, and his sister's. There around something like 1,100 pictures all together (we exchanged pictures there at the end so we'd all have them.) and I still haven't seen all of them yet. So... I will post pictures after I can actually look at them myself. I'm way behind on the rest of my life so unpacking and laundry has had to come first. Also, sleeping.
Oh, just so I'll remember.. we went to Drottningholm (royal castle) and IKEA on Thursday, shopping on Friday (while Evie stayed with Farmor and Farfar again) and a bit more of Gamla Stan and lunch with M's sister on Saturday, and then we left on Sunday morning. I had to share one crappy internet connection with M and with Whitley, so I didn't really have much time to sit down a post at the end.