In November this year, it will have been 10 years since I was laid off from the telecomms company I worked for in Sweden. I fell into a pit of despair. I pulled myself up. I got a job in the UK and I moved here in March, 2004. Apart from the overnight visit to fly back and bring my cats – Maggie and Mumin – over to the UK, in the past 10 years I have not been back.
On Thursday I flew there with the twins, to meet Alastair (who had flown there earlier in the week for other purposes). I wouldn’t say I was nervous, just filled with memories and not-quite-memories. I couldn’t remember a whole hell of a lot of my years there, to be honest. A lot of it was just gone.
The flight was fun (two little people make the excitement of a boring 2 hour flight whiz past). When we got there I couldn’t remember which Tunnelbana (underground) to take. I couldn’t remember the roads. Things I thought were in places weren’t there any more – time waits for no man, least of all me. I couldn’t work out where things were, but slowly some things came back – Swedish students graduating and wearing those sailor caps. How crazy the Swedes are for cut flowers and the brown paper wrapping that goes around them. Swedish breakfasts (never to be missed). The stalls filled with fruits at Hotorget, the crowds at T-Centralen.
Instead of being weird, it was a fun place to be with my little family. The weather was absolutely incredible, and sandwiched between a Swedish National Holiday and the wedding of the youngest Swedish princess, the city turned out its best colors. We visited the area that we had both worked at, which is radically different in some ways but brick-by-brick the same in others. We did not meet anyone we used to know, which was right for us.
The twins loved it. I loved it. And over a bottle of champagne one evening, over the setting sun (which never really set), Alastair and I agreed that this was likely us saying goodbye to Sweden, and that it was unlikely we’d ever be back. Not a promise, not impossible, just something we felt in our guts.
And it was a lovely goodbye.
When we came back from our short break, we had another change to make.
In March 2006 we agreed (on return from a holiday in New Zealand and in possession of a set of keys to our new home) that it was time to get a dog. A short phone call and we had an appointment to see a female border collie. She was rescued, along with her brother, by the RSPCA. Both puppies had been locked behind a sofa in a cage, never let out, never taken care of. Her brother was spoken for, she was not.
We met them.
We fell utterly in love with the brother.
We asked the RSPCA attendant if the people who’d chosen the brother decided they didn’t want him, we’d be first in line. We knew the sister wasn’t right for us, and with heavy hearts we drove away. As we drove away, the RSPCA phoned us – the other family had three dogs, and would be happy if we wanted the brother.
Gorby came home with us, and the rest was history.
Gorby is without question the best dog in the history of the world, ever. To say we adore him is an understatement. He is perfect in absolutely every way. And he is aging – we know he won’t be around forever, and a large part of us wanted his personality to help mold the next generation, to carry on.
On Sunday we got in the car. We’d been to the RSPCA to see a female puppy. She was one of ten Saluki-Labrador cross puppies that a female Saluki – found abandoned and nearly starved to death in a derelict block of flats in London. We met the female puppy as all 9 of her siblings were spoken for. We met one of her brothers, who was sweet and perfect. We knew the sister wasn’t right for us, so said that if the brother came free to please let us know.
And lo and behold, the RSPCA let us know that the brother was available.
Meet Gilbert. He came home with us on Sunday. He is calm for an 8 week old puppy, and very cuddly.
We worried a bit if Gorby would be ok – collies are prone to jealousy and Gorby is mostly mixes of collie in him.
The truth is, we needn’t have worried.
It came around in a circle again, life has. I feel so old, and yet like so many things are meeting up to where they need to be.