It’s been nearly two months since my last post. I know. I feel the guilt.
This is the second big move overseas and now, without a doubt, am aquainted with the various stages and adjustment one goes through. Months 1-3… exciting and new. Months 6 and on… comfortable and established. Months 3-6… tough.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy living in Stockholm, which I do, or that I am unhappy, which I’m not. It’s just the hardest part of moving away, especially overseas. It’s the time after you see your new home through virgin eyes and revel in the excitement of your new life. You settle into an apartment, a job and a routine. You have to start making a life. And that’s where it gets tough. Having to start over is never easy, but creating the friendships that define your life in that new place is the challenging part that tests your patience and your resolve to stay away from the friends and family you have left at home.
Another thing that tests my patience… the lack of sunlight. Having a large lunch as most Swedes do and seeing the sun set at 3 pm everyday is a recipe for only one thing… a nap. Those living in any country that experiences winter can identify with this to some degree, but most also have the benefit of a few extra hours of sunlight. And despite the sun staying up longer and longer it is still dark. And cold. If that’s not a recipe for a sullen face and copious red wine consumption I don’t know what is.
So there it is, my excuse for not writing. But to make it up to you, here is a cliff notes version of my last month and a half.
– Moved into our new apartment in Vasastan and subsequently discovered the charms and pitfalls of buying a 1920s apartment. Lovely architectural features, not enough hot water for a shower.
– Bought my first real Christmas tree and carted it down the street impaling pedestrians with its long top branch. Got it into the stand and put a star on the subsequently crooked long top branch. Convinced myself it gave the tree character and wanted to have a Christmas tree in that corner always. Boyfriend vetoed that idea.
– Spent Christmas Eve in Sweden with my boyfriend and his family. Had a white Christmas for the first time in perhaps a decade or more. Learned how to sing festive Swedish drinking songs while taking shots of snaps with his 80-something year old grandparents, who are better sports than me at swallowing a liquor that could clean a car engine. Successfully avoided eating all of the following: raw herring (smelly), raw fermented herring (smellier), pig feet in gelatin and eel. Couldn’t avoid eating: smoked moose.
– Finally got on board with Swedes love of a walk. Walked to boyfriend’s parents house on Christmas night in snow/rain and below freezing temperatures because he said ‘the beer will taste much better then.’ He was right.
– Spent New Year’s Eve drinking champagne by the water at Norr Malarstrand and watching an incredible fireworks display. Later spilled beer on my boyfriend’s shoes at a bar. I blame the champagne.
– Spent a weekend painting our entire apartment from ceiling to floor and have subsequently aged 10 years. Can you have arthritis at 27?
– Went home to suburban Philly to visit my family and spent quality time with the people I love and miss. Ate childhood meals like chicken and dumplings, that I haven’t had in years. Also went up to see friends in NYC and discovered there is a colder place than Stockholm. During the visit, had a realization that no matter how tough it has been to move here, it was the best decision I ever made.
– Came back to Stockholm, looked in my boyfriends eyes and realized I was really home. Also gave him Swedish Fish. He laughed. They’re just fish here.