I'm home now, in the states. Since last Wednesday. It took me a long time to get around writing this post because first of all, when have I have I ever been on time with writing my posts, and second of all, I just didn't want to write it quite yet. Leaving Sweden was a most tearful goodbye. I spent my last evening there soaking it all in the best way possible, going to another dinner at my auntie's parents house. We sat around the table for hours celebrating Miriam's birthday, laughing, talking, reminiscing, and eating of course. I sat there and thought to myself "this is Sweden." Sure you can go to Stockholm and see Gamla Stan, the Vasa, the archipelago, and Drottningholm. You could rent a car and drive the E4 up and down the country, but if you don't visit Swedes, you won't really see Sweden. I know I am very lucky and blessed to have so many wonderful people to visit in Sweden, mostly thanks to my dad for keeping in contact with such great friends, and I know I am blessed to have my own family there, whom I now like to call my Swedish family as opposed to just my relatives. My aunt is my Swedish mom and my cousins, well, they are more like my sisters now than anything else. I know very few visitors to Sweden have this opportunity, but it's so invaluable and it is with these people that you really see Sweden.
Living the ins and outs of daily life with my aunt and cousins in their flat in Karlskrona, we quickly passed the "just visiting" phase of the sweet, extra sugary love you share when you only get to see a loved one every so often, and we dove into a much deeper bond, one that through the ebb and flow of daily life, was still strong enough to harness that sweet love but transform it into a deep, fiery love that you feel mainly towards very close family such as siblings and parents. Now if you aren't getting fed up with your cousins after living with them for nearly a month all together (2 weeks and 2 weeks), you know something is right. We got lucky all of us. After not spending hardly any time together as children, yet growing up knowing our only blood related cousins were far away in Sweden, when they first came to the US eight years ago, we all clicked. But it was that sweet visiting love, you know the kind when you genuinely love those people, yet you are still very well mannered and polite because you still don't know them that well? Then six years past before we saw them again. In those six years, we all went from children to young adults, growing up through our teens, making it through junior high and high school. The basis of relationships changes so drastically during this time that I was almost sure when the girls came back to the US the summer of 2009, we wouldn't have anything in common anymore and it would be so incredibly awkward and forced. To all of our surprise, we slipped back into our old shoes and picked up right where we left off in an older manner. So much had happened in our lives, both good and bad, yet somehow we got past our differences and focused on what made us family.
My sister and I were exuberant when we found out we were able to go to Sweden the following summer of 2010, saying goodbye to the girls the summer previous, we didn't know how long our next pause would be before seeing each other again, another six years? Thankfully, we got to visit their home this time in Karlskrona and drank up our time together like it was some kind of elixir you can't get enough of. We took picture after picture, gave hug after hug, and kiss after kiss. It was again the feeling of not knowing when we would see each other again, one that gets worse with spending more and more time together. At this time, I wasn't sure if I would study abroad and Sweden or when it would be.
The stars aligned and I made it back to Sweden for this crazy adventure to fulfill my lifelong dream. During my time this last semester, I learned so much about myself, a country which I can now call my own and my home, and my family. For the third summer in a row, I got to see the girls. This time just me and them and my auntie, for about two weeks on each end of my trip. It was glorious. We got to live not like cousins who live in a far away land across the world, but much like sisters.
I could have studied abroad in Sweden and not had family, but I know my experience wouldn't have been as full, and fulfilling.
In the mean time, I am missing these things about Sweden, but mostly missing Sweden in general.
Splendid sunsets every night:
Kitties by the candles and under the stars
My late night buddy:
We had a routine. After everyone went to sleep and the house was quiet, he would jump up onto the table and into the circle of my arms while they were on the keyboard. He would sit and purr while I typed away.