In Spite of All Our Wanderings…
My guests have left and my house smells like a garden. Inhale. Ahhhh…tulips, spouting bulbs, pale pink Gerber daisies and babies breath scattered throughout the house…it’s a Swedish tradition to bring the host fresh flowers, a tradition that is especially lovely in winter when you need (so desperately) the memories of spring. But even lovelier than all the gifts, are the memories of having these 8 incredible women to my house for brunch. These are the first people I met when moving to Sweden. These are the people who saved my life…
It begins with Karen. She threw me my first lifeline when I was downtown in Lidingo, on a miserable rainy day, certain I’d hate living in Sweden. She heard my English and introduced herself and what’s more, gave me her phone number!! I waited a day (to prove I wasn’t psycho) then called her, asking her a million (and 1) questions. Her children are similar in ages to mine, they go to the same school and she’d already lived through a year abroad (she knew it’d get better). She suggested we meet at the park and bring the kids. (God bless her.)
Karen brought Kerri and another friendship was born. Kerri’s British accent, warm brown eyes and friendly smile instantly won me over. From there we decided to meet for Fika (Swedish tea and coffee) and that’s when I met Melanie. I felt like there was something familiar about Melanie, then she told me she was from Pennsylvania, my home state! When she said she was a Downton Abbey fan, well…there was no doubt we were going to hit it off.
Christine’s story was a little different. By the time I met Christine I had been in Sweden longer than she had, (by a week). We were both searching the paltry selections of Swedish language books at the local library, hoping to get a handhold on the language when we started chatting… “Where are you from?” I asked. “Australia.” She was dealing with her own housing woes and the frustrations of fitting into an entirely new culture. Our commiseration led to an invitation, my asking Christine if she’d like to come to Fika. She came and ever since our grips and worries have always found solace with each other.
Mags (she let me call her this because my tongue can’t do justice to her longer, beautiful Swedish name), I met while house hunting. She is from Sweden and already owned a lovely home. She invited us in and for no reason (other than her extraordinary kindness) was willing to extend her already large circle of friends to include me. What a blessing!
Mindy, from Ohio, I met at a parent’s coffee morning at SIS. Despite the distractions of our little kids running around, we managed to piece together a conversation and later spoke again at Fika. Eventually, as luck would have it, we both joined the same gym in Lidingo. We’d text in the morning, “meet you at the gym” and she’d have my yoga mat ready or text, “not gonna make it,” and we’d both understand.
Katerina, from Germany, came to the brunch with a basket on her arm, a German tradition of welcoming someone to a new house with a loaf of homemade bread, (along with 2 kinds of spreads–salmon and pumpkin seed) and a bottle of salt. All this to symbolize the hope that there will always be plenty for the family in the coming years. Love that!
I was so glad my Swedish friend Gabrielle could make it too. We met at Church and without her I might never have found a good yarn shop or most of the other places I’ve been to in the city—thanks to her walking tours. She’s amazing.
And I must thank one more friend, although she didn’t come, and to be honest, I didn’t think to invite her (all the way from the States), but Devon Corneal, a friend from High School, had posted an article on Facebook, about 10 Things Happy People Do. It intrigued me so I read it. I saw that one of the things “happy people” do is build social networks, not the Facebook kind, but real-time communication. I realized that in moving to Stocksund and in losing my weekly Fika Fridays, I didn’t lose my friends, nor did I forget what each of them had contributed to my life those first few weeks and months in a new country. Hosting the brunch was a way for me to honor those bonds, but to also, selfishly, get more happiness!! If this little experiment of mine could be used in any sort of scientific-data-collecting-kind-of-way, I can assure you my level of happiness went sky-high getting to spend a morning with these fantastic women!
On the table I had a “take home” bag for each guest…(inside was a candle and Yorkshire Peppermint Patty) and hanging on the outside was this quote…
In spite of all
is always found within
and among objects
which lie within our
I think that says it all.