the beauty and the desperation of an escape

Escape changes all perspective. Escaping the city for the country. Escaping the country for the city. But what looms in our family’s psyche is the opposite – no escape, whether from Stockholm to the forest or, more destructively, from the outer edge of the New York City exurbs – the New York forest – to New York City itself (or anywhere really, as when you are trapped the final escape destination means little).

I thought of this because it dawned on us that our country paradise is essentially the Swedish equivalent to Port Jervis, Orange County, New York and its surrounding hamlets and woods – a river town more scruffy that it first appears, beautiful but not a famed, upscale vacation destination.

I stretch a little here, on both ends, but not really, as there are gritty factory towns onlly a few train stops away. We do not so much live in Port Jervis, as in Sparrowbush, a hamlet outside Port Jervis where people buy second homes and expensive homes (some near $1 million during the boom) but whose empty ramshackle storefronts and streets always horrified us, as a confirmation of and shorthand reference for our loneliness.

Now we own a home in the Swedish Sparrowbush, and it is near perfect, an escape from Solna and Stockholm and our cozy but tiny apartment. Becauase we come and go from Marma (our little hamlet), we are not depending on roots planted in its sandy soil. We know better now, that the sand would never hold us day to day, but grasps us perfectly summer to summer.

Escape has desperate and blissful connotations. We know both, and, thankfully, are on the good end now, where we thought we would be when we moved to Port Jervis … but were not.


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