Have you ever visited a foreign country and felt an immediate sense of belonging? It has happened to me more than once, but never as strongly as it did in Sweden two years ago.
I write this as I sit at the old wooden kitchen table in the house that has become our second home over the last four visits to this country. Maia and Robin are watching Harry Potter with their dad in the tv room and Ivy is having her nap in another room. The light is such as we would see at 7pm this time of the year back on the islands and it is as cold as it will be in three months’ time back home.
Home. Where is home to you? To me it used to be the smaller island where I was born and raised and lived most of my life. There are memories in every street and every rock that covers its beaches and, as the name of this blog suggests, I consider myself to be an islander. But there are equally important memories here as well. Ivy took her first steps in this house, Robin has wanted to live here since our first visit, Maia learned to be more independent while remembering how young she still really is. The people we have met here have been good to us. They have welcomed us inside their homes, fed us, taught us more about their country. We are now very fond of ragkaka, Ivy favours ketchup with her snabbmakaroner and God forbid someone dares touch the cheese with anything but a cheese slicer. The children play outside barefoot in temperatures which would warrant a padded jacket back home.
We also stand out like a sore thumb. We are loud, we talk too much and are overzealous in expressing our opinions. There are times when we wish pasta was as popular as hot dogs here and we keep mispronouncing words or laughing at words that sound rude to us. Swedish we are not. But the pull towards this country is so strong that we dream of moving here. When I say we, I mean all of us. This is the first time even our eldest hasn’t shot down the idea of leaving hot Malta behind. The cheaper plane tickets and ease of communication with friends and family back home mean that the idea of uprooting the children isn’t as daunting as it would have been 15 years ago. Still, it feels like an unattainable dream most of the time.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll have our own old wooden table with a view of the forest one day. If that ever happens, I’ll have to think of a more appropriate name for this site!