Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Back in Time to Lund

Driving across the dusty, hot highway between Casper and Cheyenne never felt so exciting or scary. With my two little boys buckled in the back on either side of me, I veer between nerves and excitement about the upcoming adventure. I am leaving, with my family, everything I know behind for a foreign land. Planes, trains, and automobiles will get us there.

My boys and I are inexperienced plane travelers. My husband takes charge of the baby while I manage  the toddler in his stroller. We board different planes in different airports to make our way across the United States, then the Atlantic Ocean, until we arrive in England.

In a hazy blur, I exit the plane in Heathrow and I think, "Holy cow! I'm in England." But we are all so tired. Brent and I try to keep the kids under control and manage our own exhaustion. Our few hours in London pass by in a haze until we board our last flight to Denmark.

The plane to Denmark smells and feels different. The flight attendants act differently in a way I can't identify, We are much closer to our destination.

In Copenhagen, we deplane, carry our mountain of luggage and two very tired little boys downstairs (!) where we board a train. We accidentally board the wrong train, but Brent soon sets us right and with the help of other passengers, we get all our luggage transferred. Finally, we are all settled and with the boys settled on our laps, we look at each other in shock and smile.

For my husband, it must feel familiar and comfortable as he returns to the land where he served his mission. The way he speaks changes subtly as he remembers the cadences and sounds of Swedish, the language he spoke exclusively for two years. I am trying to take all the images, sounds, and smells in as I experience my first train ride. I'm on a train, crossing the ocean. Wait, I'm on a train, crossing an ocean.

Soon we arrive in Malmo where we have to switch trains to a local line. The train station feels foreign and strange. I'm at a train station, in a foreign country. I can't read or understand the signs. No one is speaking a language I understand. The air feels sticky and warm. I'm lost, but unafraid because we've got Brent.

Then we are on the small train to Lund and the countryside swooshes by in a blur. Long tracts of land and fields, dotted occasionally by little houses. Soon we pull into Lund, our home for the next five and a half years. We step off the train and wait on the platform. Brent piles up the suitcases while I keep the boys occupied and safe. The air smells a little sweet.

Everything is vivid and fresh, without context. I have no frame of reference for what I am seeing and experiencing. I'm not used to mass transit, trains, or buses. The scenery is so different from anything I have ever seen. I am tired, so tired, but I have to keep it together because my little boys need me.

Someone meets us from the university with the key to our flat. He is riding a bicycle and his face as he takes in the mountain of luggage, our babies draped over the pile, and me looking tired and overwhelmed, is welcoming but also humorous. This man became Brent's mentor and professor and was with us from start to finish.

A lady from church picks us up in her van. Her kind face is reassuring as she helps us into her car. She drives us to our flat, brings us groceries, and a warm dinner for our first night. Soon she leaves us as she sees how I am about to collapse.

Home for five and a half years. Living in an apartment with hundreds of other people. I take in the flat, the furniture, and the scenery. Trees, leaves, so very green. A playground. A sweet smell in the air. Home for five and a half years.

Five and a half years later we take the same journey in the reverse. The trains, planes, and automobiles are now familiar. We have two more children.  Driving that same highway in Wyoming is now both familiar and foreign. We have changed so much in those years and now where once felt at home, we feel slightly confined and confused. I am home. Home in Wyoming-at least until we move to New York.



Handsfullmom said...

I loved reading this. You have such a way with words. I felt like I was right there with you.

Handsfullmom said...

I loved reading this. You have such a way with words. I felt like I was right there with you.