Thursday, March 21, 2019

My haven

I pack my cabin bag but it is still almost empty. All I need is already there. I might leave Switzerland with a half empty bag, but it is always filled to its brim when I return. 

I go through security, double check which gate to go to. I stop at my favorite airport café and pick up a latte and a croissant and a salad for the flight. The food onboard is not the greatest... I feel like a runaway Mama. Leaving all kids at home with their father to do my thing. It is liberating and makes me a bit anxious at the same time. I guess I like to look at myself as indispensable...Or maybe this is the result of living in a motherhood bubble for such a long time...

I find my seat, turn on a podcast and bring out my crochet. 2 hours and 40 minutes it takes to get home. Quality time for me, myself and I.

I have two homes. One in Switzerland and one in Sweden. Sweden will always be the place I'll return to no matter what happens. Switzerland is just temporary... It's been temporary for over 10 years now. That is life for me as an expat. 

We land and the first thing I do is stop at the Pressbyrån kiosk in the arrival hall to buy a magazine, a bag of my favorite sweets and Cheese Doodles. I go and pick up my rental car. This time I actually got the model I reserved. Surprise! I tune in my favorite radio station, P4 Stockholm, and the drive to our summer house begins. The landscape I drive through is kind of dull, grey and sluggish this time of the year. There is some snow but no signs of spring yet. I drive pass Swedish red cottages, horses and big fields and forests... By the time I reach my cottage, half the bag of sweets is gone... I lied. The whole bag is gone. Of course. I've reached my destination. I'm here.

My brother Christian has turned on the heaters and left the key in the red front door. It is still very cold inside. Especially on the floor. I turn on the old transistor radio for company and some lights as it is getting dark outside. I check the water to see if the pipes have survived winter this year. They are all solid and with a victory gesture I loudly pronounce my relief with a big "YES!" creating a bit of an echo in the house. Last year every pipe had frozen and broken. It cost me a small fortune... I jump into my cottage outfit: an old pair of jeans (dirty as hell, have I ever washed them?) and an oversized washed out sweater. Dad's old jacket (which goes down to my knees at least...) and ankle high wellies.

I walk down to my brother's house and he greets me with a big bear hug. He has lit his fire place and dinner is on the stove. We chat and hang out until late when I make my way back to my cottage in the dark, guided by the iPhone flashlight. My cottage is much warmer now. I do my bedtime routine, turn off the radio and the lights and tuck myself in. The silence. The silence is so intense that it is almost uncomfortable in the beginning. It makes me want to hold my breath. My senses are desperately searching for something to take in: wind, cracking noises in the walls, animals, white noise from the fridge... Nothing. Who would have thought silence could be so... loud? Maybe it is my brain that is loud? Within minutes I'm fast asleep. 

The weekend moves on and I go for long walks, clean in the cottage, prepare it for the sale. Make the beds in the kids' cottage and try my best to make it look as cozy and attractive as possible for a future viewing. 

A big tree has fallen down in the back of the garden, luckily it has fallen right next to the kids' cottage and not on top of it. A neighbor tells me that about a dozen trees fell down in the big storm in January and amazingly no ones' property has been smashed, but there is still a lot of work left to clean up the mess. 

We have a great community here. We look out for each other at all times. I will still be a part of it after the summer house is sold. It is comforting to know. That I will still come out here. This is my haven. My place to disconnect from the demanding roles of being a mother, wife, professional and a woman with a busy life. Here I am just me and the most important thing in the day is to eat, walk, chill and do small improvements of the house and garden. No mountains of laundry, agendas to follow, picking up after family members, taxi service, activities, big dinner preparations, filling and emptying of dishwashers or making ends to meet. Here life is down to its core of simplicity. And quietly, while sitting there with a cup of tea and flicking through an old magazine with the radio buzzing in the background I wonder: "Why do we need more? Isn't this just enough?" I so wish life could always be this simple. 


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  1. beautiful place,
    beautifully written

  2. That sounds like a blissful weekend, so glad you had a little getaway there and a chance to see your brother. It really is a beautiful place. CJ xx

  3. this is a very, very deep thought.
    I've almost been there with you.

  4. Hi Annette,
    It's so beautiful out there in Sweden. It's a destination that's on my travel bucket list. It's nice that you will always be welcome in the community, even after you sell the house.
    Have a lovely weekend Annette.

    Sweet greetings,

  5. Hi Annette, I'm sorry I haven't commented in a long while as I have had many health issues. I was diagnosed with ME and had some anxiety issues as a result. Then in November I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to have a major operation and then in February started 33 treatments of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It has been tough but I am in my last week of treatment now and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your post has taken me to that special place of yours, your descriptive writing is so good, I could virtually feel the coldness in the air. What a wonder place, we hardly ever see snow where I live and then it's usually a little sprinkling, like icing sugar on a cake!!! Will be back reading your blog it always brings happiness to me. I hope you have been well and life has been good to you over the past year or so. Hugs from Julie xx Bournemouth UK

  6. Your photos are absolutely stunning!!

  7. How wonderful to have this special place. x

  8. Sweden is such a beautiful country,I wish I had been there more than the three times I have visited.I do understand your longing for home since I moved with my husband from Scotland 5 years ago here to Llandudno in Wales to be near close family and although we love this place and being closer to our children now we are retired,I don't think you can ever take your childhood home out of your soul. I do sympathise with the full-on motherhood thing having had four children myself but you are doing the right thing having a bit of time for yourself, Enjoy !

  9. A big smile arise on my face when I began to read your post... and it stood there up to the end... :) Peace, freshness, freedom, roots, eveything needed is there, in your cabin life. Enjoy well every moment !
    (I recognize Carl Larsson pictures on a wall... I DO love his watercolors !)

  10. Thank you for sharing this. It reminds me so strongly of leaving my family for a short break.

  11. Hi there Annette! I keep reading your blog whenever possible and I enjoy it very much as I am able to connect with it very well. Your latest post is truly lovely! Extremely well written! Loved the closing line....!!
    Warm regards,
    Kiron Susan Joseph

  12. Oh I love this!! You are a great writer!! Love the details in all the descriptions. Not everyone has this talent! I see a book in the near future?? Didn't know that it can take only two hours from Switzerland to Sweden. Good that you can take off and see family. I have to fly for 17 hours to see my mom in another country and when I get there we have 2 hours car drive!


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