My friend R., who also happens to be my favorite employee, is moving back to Finland after more than four years living in Sweden. It was a blow to learn that he was leaving, not just because the company has a hiring freeze and we can't afford to lose good project managers. It's also a blow to morale, mostly mine because I count on him to inject energy, keep us all honest, and send me 10,000 e-mails a day.
We started talking about the whole expatriate version of the you-can't-go-home-again theory, which says that after about four years outside The Fatherland, the likelihood of your being happy living back home is rather slim. Of course, moving back and forth between Finland and Sweden is rather like moving back and forth between Canada and the United States - the countries share an awful lot of culture, so the difference is less pronounced than it might be between other countries.
"I think it would be hard to go back now," I said to him.
"Maybe. I guess I'll find out," he said.
Then again, it would be hard to stay here if I weren't with the husband. Still, the idea of moving back to the States is very strange. Unnatural even, and I can hardly say why. Except that life seems too easy there. And in fact, it doesn't matter because we are not planning on leaving Sweden in the foreseeable future.
The Swedish word for the day is enkel biljett. It means one-way ticket.
- by Francis S.