Observing Sweden – 7 March
Early morning, raining in Seattle. Our good neighbor, Henri, drove us to the airport – Lou and me, with Bucks and Amber zipped up in their travel cages. The four of us were creating an emotional aura equivalent of a sun gone nova. We were leaving America, forever. Oh my God, what had I done, leaving the life, the home I’d known for 15 years. Lou going back to the home she’d known for all her life, except for our time together in Seattle . . . the fourteen years since our marriage in Stockholm.
The cats were totally freaked out, but taking it well. They’d never been caged for so long, and the worst was yet to come. I gave them a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Hell, I gave myself a fifty-fifty chance of survival.
The first jump was Seattle to Paris, cat’s under the seats in front of us. Nine endless hours. Would they survive? We hadn’t given them the tranquilizers our vet supplied. They were remarkably quiet . . . too quiet. I felt so sorry for them, but the trip went fairly well until we disembarked at De Gaulle Airport. Madness, crowded and confused. For reasons still unknown we had to pass through some kind of cursory police inspection, but the frogs were on coffee break. A couple hundred of us waited, thirty minutes, then an hour that stretched to ninety minutes. We missed our connecting flight. More madness, chaos, waiting in long lines with others as desperate as ourselves trying to get tickets for their connecting flights. Bucks and Amber were still doing fairly well, but I was losing it. I took two of the cat’s tranquilizers which helped as five more hours passed.
We finally boarded another plane. Lou was able to call friends in Stockholm to pick us up, and contacted her son who had driven halfway Arlanda Airport where he was supposed to meet us, a two hour drive from Borlänge, our final destination. We spent the night with Lou’s friends and their two dogs. Bucks was upset; he’s never cared for dogs, and Amber was disturbingly quiet. I was mercifully exhausted and fell asleep. We rented a car then next day and drove to our new home in Borlänge where we lived for two months with only yard chairs and a picnic table. Everything we owned was on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic.
So, today is special, one year here. The cats are thriving, and Marie-Louise is happy, reunited with her family, grandchildren, and their children. I’m okay, going nuts trying to learn to speak Swedish, but I’m always going nuts with one thing or another. Sweden’s going to be okay for me, I think. I’m getting over culture shock. These last twelve months have not been bad ones but, as one of my Asian high school students once told me, “Nothing is easy.” This day finds me lost in recollection, indelible memories . . . Things left behind, forever, new things falling slowly into place. I find myself somewhat amazed that we have pulled it off . . . Survivors.