Are We There Yet?
It was a harrowing trip from Stockholm to Frankfurt to Denver to St. George Utah. It was long and cramped and the show selections on United were as bad as the overcooked tortellini. Sixteen hours of travel time got us only so far as Denver, ugh! Then we had to go through customs. I was flying with Maggie and Jonah and between the three of us we somehow managed to haul 6 suitcases from baggage claim to the United Ticket counter then go through security again, disposing of our overpriced airport water.
When we reached our third and final gate we sat down in some chairs to wait out our 4-hour layover. Jonah’s last words to me, “I don’t think I’ll even sleep.” Three and a half hours later when it was time to board, neither child could be roused. They were bent at odd angles, laying on backpacks and rigid airport chairs, far in dreamland. I said to Jonah, “Wake up,” and gave him a little shake. One eye popped open, the other squinting, then I turned to Maggie, “Wake up.” She was comatose. I turned back to Jonah. He was slumped in his chair again, head back, mouth agape. This went on for several minutes until finally I snapped, “Let’s go!” I said, a little too loud, pulling them from their chairs, dragging them to the gate.
They shuffled like zombies down the runway, their knees too exhausted to bend. They boarded the small jet engine plane and immediately fell into a deep Sleeping Beauty incapacitated state of rest. I haven’t had to buckle Jonah into a seat belt since he was three, but I fastened him in alongside Maggie, then sank into my aisle chair. A dazed numb feeling buzzed through my head but the faint happiness of knowing the answer to, “Are we there yet?” made me smile. “Yes! We’re almost there.”
When we arrived in St. George my in-laws were waiting to pick us up. My sister-in-law and her husband grabbed our suitcases and everyone lent a hand with the sleepy children. It was the best reception possible. I didn’t have to think. I just got in the car and they drove us to our hotel. From that point on these last few weeks have a blur.
We moved into our house with suitcases and air mattresses. We’re “camping” until our things arrive. Since being back in the US Maggie and I have also flown to PA to see my family. At one point Maggie asked, “Are we over our jet lag yet?” My new saying, “It’s 8:00 somewhere in the world.” It helps me greet the day no matter what hour we wake up.
We’re back in St. George now and everyday begins with a To-Do list. Get driver’s license, register for school, get mail key, call about recycling, choose which floor sample to install, buy toilet bowl brushes and on and on. It’s deja vu only it’s not. I’ve done this before–moving/settling–but it’s a whole new experience here. The desert heat is a game changer. When you’re not used to it your body has to adapt. I’m way more thirsty, I wear sunscreen all the time (not just for the pool), sunglasses are a must. Here in St. George there are pest control companies on every city block (for a reason). We’ve already had the exterminator spray four times. Ants, roaches, black widows…Oh My! I fell like Dorothy, far from the familiar, but sensing that this place, for now, is exactly where I need to be.
Still it’s hard sometimes. Being new. Saying hi to strangers. Introducing myself, over and over, telling my story, who I am and why I moved to St. George Utah. “Sweden, huh, really?” they say. Sometimes I’m confused too. Why again am I doing this? There’s a lot of friendly people in the world, it’s just takes time to make some of them your friends. It’s like getting a job. It’s hard to get the position when you don’t have previous experience, but how do you get experience?
The answer is you stick around. You smile when you don’t feel like it, you talk to everyone and see who talks back. It’s luck of the draw and drawing your luck. And in the meantime you appreciate more of what you’ve got, where you’ve been and the ones you often take for granted–family. “Family” are the people who are always there when you need them.
St. George is an environment of extremes. Extreme temperatures, extreme beauty. The red rock is other worldly. It’s like walking on Mars every morning. Up in the hills I’ve discovered my happy place. It’s where I can go when I want to feel everything is as it should be. Looking down from up above life looks small and manageable, and problems don’t feel so large. For right now I’m glad to be where I am. If anyone asks, “Are we there yet?” I’m going to say, “Yes.”