Nope, still not saying hello from my favorite Swedish village in Minnesota. Life is still weird, though.
I think about it a lot still, even though I am ridiculously busy (this morning I ran a 5K mud run thing and nearly dislocated my rotator cuff falling over some hay bales 10 yards from the finish) and I remembered a thing I used to want.
That thing was – well, it wasn’t really one thing; you can’t put it into a sentence, not quite.
I used to want to take some time off from the life I had so neatly planned out for myself to go make some stories, is I guess the best way of saying it.
I have known since I was seven that I would go to college, which is okay with me. I’m not rebelling against the system; I am very happy that I made the decision to go to college, even if I did make it when I was seven. And of course it sets a certain structure to these years of my life. I have a degree I want to get – it’s going to take time and work and all those other things. All of which I don’t mind in the least.
But I did used to think, “Maybe I’ll take a year off at some point and just go do X for a while.” I think the most frequent scenario was “wait tables in Kansas City.” I have no idea why. I just wanted to have a story to tell. I think the idea was similar to what happened when I added up some dates in my father’s life and discovered a gap between college graduation and beginning his teaching career. I said, “Wait a second! What were you up to?” So he told me. I guess that was what I wanted – I wanted my someday-kids to grow up thinking I was a boring old mother, and then one day they’d do the math and say, “Mom, where were you when…” and I would say, “Well…” and tell them a very interesting story about waiting tables in Kansas City. Or whatever.
Although, you know, Sjölunden could do that. It could be a very interesting story. I picture taking my kids to camp there and then they’ll discover (gradually? all at once?) that I know the staff, or whatever, and suddenly they’ll go, “Mom…?”
And if you want to talk about stories, my one summer of work there has already given me some, and I’m not done yet. [terminator voice] I’ll be back.
I was remembering the first couple days there or so. There’s a line in the handbook which says, “If a few days go by at Sjölunden, it’s more like a few months in the real world.” This is true. The first few days felt like ages long. I remember waking up those mornings to Emma’s alarm clock (I think it was Emma’s?) and thinking, Okay. Time to think in Swedish. I honestly had to pretend I was mentally throwing a switch, I suppose. But at some point that disappeared, and I just got lost in it. Working at Sjölunden that first summer (feels weird to call it ‘that’ as though it’s so long gone) will always be one of the hardest things I have ever done. There were days when I was run ragged, there at the beginning. But working at Sjölunden will also always be one of the easiest things I have ever done, in that there has never been any question about whether or not I will do it. And after making that decision, after a while, a lot of the ragged edges run into the ground don’t matter so much.