As we returned from Christmas in the Midwest, on the plane from Chicago to Stockholm I suddenly noticed that it was Dec. 29 (Central European Time, it was still only Dec. 28 in Illinois). Which meant that it was eight years to the day since I'd moved to Sweden. Strange to be on a plane again and remembering it all: my worldly possessions travelling separately in a container somewhere between Washington, DC and Stockholm, the excitement I felt, (I wasn't even scared, which astonishes me), the nearly overwhelming lust and love for the man who would become my husband, who was waiting for me at Arlanda airport. I had arrived some five hours later than expected, since my flight from Reyjavik to Stockholm had been cancelled and I had to go through Copenhagen instead, making it three flights in all to get here. I remember talking at Keflavik airport in Iceland to an American woman who had lived in Sweden fro 15 years, which seemed like forever.
At New Year's, the mother of the popstar asked me: "Will you die here?"
And then she smiled, embarrassed a little that she had put it that way.
My favorite Finn, who was part of the conversation, hummed a bit of the Swedish national anthem, which ends with the phrase "I want to live and die in the North."
I could only answer, well, yes, probably.
It's strange to think I will never leave, but it becomes less and less likely that I will abandon Sweden as the years pass.
And fifteen years seems like no time at all anymore.
Still stranger is to think of growing old and dying here. Will the husband and I end up in an old people's home, together or separately? Will I revert to English in my dotage? Who will come to visit me? And who will put flowers on my grave?
The Swedish word for the day is alltid. It means always.
- by Francis S.