I heard about an autumn leaf falling to the ground last weekend, a taunting sign of winter before August is out. Two years ago, it was the color yellow. On my first day of work in my first days back in Sweden, after a week in sweltering New York City, I walked to lunch and saw whole trees already faded to autumn yellow.
That lunch was two years ago now, and I still feel like a newcomer, just as I felt like I had just arrived in Orange County, New York when we left, almost two years to the day after we drove into Middletown the first time.
Two years is an in between amount of time, and I realize I have lived most of my adult life in these in between times, the times that are filled with experience and memory but, after you have left, you realize they were short and fleeting, giving you a mere taste of a place and the people.
We lived in Port Jervis for 21 months. I use that gritty little town as a symbol for many things – most not good – which is unfair because I ignore the positives (because they did us no good) and can not claim to truly know the city (though what I do know is that the city has closed in on itself, fretting and flailing, desperate for goodwill but then shutting out newcomers).
I also certainly do not know Råsunda, our neighborhood in Solna, which is just north of central Stockholm. I am an expat, and also one who does not care much about the big, national soccer stadium down the block except whether hooligans fight below our balcony. Yet Råsunda is all things good to me, for it is where we found solid ground, I got months and months with my family, and where we have a rabbit that hangs out on a rock outside our window.
Both these places are reference points in our greater life. This is what I have, a series of reference points that sometimes just reflect back on each other, sometimes add up to a comprehensive whole — Swarthmore, Budapest, Pakrac, Vukovar, Osijek, Daruvar, River Vale, Morningside Heights, Mechanicstown, Goshen, Gävle, Kungsholmen, Middletown, Port Jervis and, finally, Råsunda.
But now with two kids and a summer house – add Marma to that list above – and this mesmerizing view of trees out the city window, it seems like we will go deeper than two years. Sink some roots. You know … for another six months.