In the last month, I:
- quit my job,
- visited my childhood home in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the first time since 1998,
- said goodbye to my mom, dad and brothers,
- visited New Orleans for the first time ever (bonus: went on a swamp tour),
- said goodbye to my 94-year-old great aunt,
- visited Chicago for the first time ever (bonus: finally met one of my oldest Internet-friends),
- said goodbye to all my friends and the rest of my family,
- sold half my stuff,
- boxed up a quarter of the remaining stuff,
- closed accounts, and
- paid off debts,
… but I haven’t:
- received our residence permits to live in Sweden, or
- bought our one-way plane tickets.
It’s strange here in limbo, where I’ve got some-but-not-total certainty that my dreams are coming true. My instincts tell me to ready myself before it all crashes down. Nearly every part of this process that hasn’t been under our direct control has gone awry, why should this last part be any different? So, we wait.
It’s been two weeks since we learned a decision has been made regarding our residence permit applications, and our instructions said we’ll hear the verdict either by mail or from the nearest Swedish consulate. Crickets. I tried to call, but the consulate’s visa line is open for one hour each of four days of the week, and I missed the window today. I’ll try again tomorrow. When we have our permits, we’ll leave as soon as possible.
Mentally, I’m so ready. It’s painful to feel idle, although my idleness is an illusion. I’m winding down Act 1 and ready to get on with Act 2. But there’s so much yet to do here before we go. We’ve been productive nearly non-stop since quitting our jobs. Fixing things around the house, dealing with bills, traveling, buying supplies, organizing belongings, selling belongings, boxing up belongings, trying to see all our friends before we go. I’ve even taken on a part-time remote transcriptionist job to help ease my financial anxiety, though it doesn’t do much but take up time that arguably could be put to better use.
Emotionally, goodbyes have been rough. It’s hard to write this now, because it’s more comfortable to pretend, as I always do, that the goodbyes aren’t real. That I’ll see everyone tomorrow, next week, next summer. And I might see them next summer, back home. Some are already planning visits. And we might be back in the U.S. for good in two years. Who knows? But I’m trying to be ready for a lifetime, to remember that we love it in Sweden already, and if that love lingers, we could stay there.
Today’s lagom lessons: Not everything will work out, but most things will; not all goodbyes have to last.