Many things, right now, feel like a circle. One of those giant, clichéd, metaphorical circles. I am at the end of the beginning which is the end. And just when I thought I knew it all, it transpires that I knew nothing.
We are shortly off to Stockholm for a thing (where thing = something to book flights to, to attend). I have not been in Stockholm in many years – for a place where I used to know the roads in the city to drive on, I no longer know my way around in any way, shape or form. Rather like Dallas – I used to know every single side street and way around, and now I’ve no doubt that if I were to get behind the wheel of a car there, I would have no idea where I was going.
And in many ways, Stockholm is the land of the beginning. I moved there in 1999, at the tender age of 25. I was in love, less with a man than the idea of being able to live abroad, which was the single largest silent goal of mine as far back as I can recall. I never knew why the shores of foreign lands were so enticing, I only knew that every part of me wanted to see what else the world held. Thus in 1999 I signed a contract, hopped a plane, and it commenced the travels I have had, which have accumulated over 50 countries visited thus far and hopefully no signs of stopping.
And now I have travel companions – one large size, two compact size. There is little I find as exciting as getting to be there with them, watching the world unfold before their little eyes. They have the best bits ahead of them, as well as the beautiful knowledge that no matter how wonderful it is to see the world, something the best feeling in the world is walking inside the front door on your return, knowing that of all the spots in the world, this one is the one you belong to.
Stockholm is where it all began. Where I moved, where I started working in the role I still do today. It’s where I stared IVF treatment, and where I silently lost my mind and started rebuilding myself. It’s the country where I met Alastair. It’s where I finally understood (and realized) that disassociating was what I did, and it was not good for one’s self. It’s where my family’s fracture started with a crack like thunder. It’s where I got Maggie and Mumin. It’s where I started blogging, on a sunny Swedish summer day with an empty office, and not much in my diary that day.
The twins get to see what this land is like. Ironically they talk often about dreams of visiting “The Land of Ice and Snow”, a name they made up and which I find incredibly endearing. What they won’t know during this June visit is that’s a pretty good name for the place when the darkness of winter hits. Instead they are going to the pouring sunshine – I remember one visit there before I lived there, where I woke up in my hotel room in a blind panic that I was late, and so I hopped in the shower. When I got out I looked at my watch and saw that despite the full sunshine pouring in the room, it was only 3 am.
I don’t miss that part.
Stockholm. Where it all started. Ironically we are staying in a nice hotel (it’s not quite tourist season and prices are low), a hotel whose name and photos on the web I recognized. I couldn’t remember why it was so freaking familiar, so I shrugged it off as one of those places I likely had visited. As we sat on the sofa with a glass of wine and Google Maps on Sunday, it came to me why I found the place so familiar – I had indeed been there. A few times. Namely the time I first met my ex-husband. And then the time he took me to dinner there and proposed. You know…those times. And we’re staying there.
I’m such an asshole for not remembering that detail.
But it was a lifetime ago, all of it. Now we are visiting and we get to see the place where we lived through the twins’ eyes. We get to show them the archipelago and the sunshine and the Swedish dish “pytt i panna” and many other things. None of it feels tainted and wrong anymore, nothing hurts, and there is no lingering memory of heartache. It’s a place that I once lived in a massive canvas of places I once lived.
But it is going back to the beginning. And while I don’t mind beginnings, if you throw too many of them at me then I start to flounder. I have an awful lot of beginnings just now – at work, at home, within myself. I am not reading too much into this beginning, it just feels strangely…coincidental. I’m shortly retiring from blogging and visiting the place that instigated it. Maybe it’s not the beginning, it’s the ending.
And on endings, on Sunday my grandma died.
I don’t really want to talk about that.
Instead of her ending, I like to think it’s a beginning.
PS – I bought 30 fairy doors, which I have sent to the twins’ class at school. The teachers were onboard with the idea, and so the class will be painting them with the teachers, and each child taking a fairy door home to put in their garden with five extra doors placed in the school playground. The fairies may have had to move out of the woods, but they get to stay in our little village. Anything to keep the magic as long as we possibly can.