Friday, January 11, 2008

First Days in Sweden Part 1, Day 6

~Friday, Day 6~

Being stuck in the house with Hunter’s illness and again waiting for the repairman, during the first week of the trip, helped me realize something very real and human: If I kept hiding behind my overwhelm and ignorance, I would spend many more days in a deepening isolation. It is one thing, completely, to choose silent hours and days alone for the sake of prayer, contemplation, writing, reading or exploration, but it is quite another to hole up because of ignorance. And ignorance is often a state we call comfort. It is also true that I felt as if I were an intruder in this wonderful little village and that the folks here might not consider knowing me as much of an adventure as I felt knowing them might be. But how was I to know if this feeling was true without using the best advice I have ever received: ask, seek and knock?

Certainly, Kent’s personal help from across the lawn the day before was an encouragement: we were not lost or isolated. We had a neighbor with a name and a phone number who had invited us to call anytime. This was intensely fortifying.

After a quick breakfast and only one cartoon, Hunter and I donned our coats, hats and gloves to walk another direction out of town to visit the tourist center. We passed a line of two-by-two walking young people around Hunter’s age, all wearing safety vests and walking a long way in the same direction as ourselves. Seeing the children walking as if this were normal—no whining—helped Hunter do the same, if not try to out-walk them all.

Soon enough we were in the tourist office, gaping at all the beautiful things they had for sale, enjoying the chance to be out of the house and now even out of the wind. The woman behind the counter gave me her full attention and plenty of maps, calendars and other information about the area for our touring fancy. This AFTER she got off of her cell phone. Just before she was completely finished with me, the telephone rang again. Another woman at a desk seemed proficiently capable of doing anything but answering the telephone.

Another human encounter in our own language. This was going to be a beautiful day!

We dallied a bit around the tourist office on the surrounding deck overlooking the sea and a little marina. The rank seaweed deposits in murky mud, pounded by waves enough to stir up the stink all the more, kept us from hanging about all day. Hunter had a good run from one end of the deck to the other and back several times, and I was able to find a toalett (WC, restroom, etc) to ease my discomfort from walking.

We walked back toward town, proud to have walked all the way to the tourist bureau and across the scary highway. We decided that a trip to the little grocery store and another to the bakery would be another fun part of our walk and for a more tasty lunch.

When we entered the bakery, I fessed up that we were in Hollviken for a prolonged stay. That my name was Juliene and this was Hunter to whom the bakery has become a favorite place in town. Maria, on the other side of the counter, told us about her son in California and the sorry lot of breads in the U.S. compared to Sweden. She recommended some breads on the shelf and enjoyed Hunter’s questions and comments.

Another woman entered the room during this exchange. She was probably in her later 60’s and wore bright orange lipstick on her large, sagging pink lips. Otherwise her clothes were classy and she seemed interested in us since she’d seen us also at the grocery store (which the locals call the Konsum). She asked how old Hunter was and said she had a grandson his age. Both she and Maria mentioned how important it would be to play with other children.

I agreed wholeheartedly. For some strange reason we decided not to exchange phone numbers because we figured we’d meet up again, since we’d just followed each other from the Konsum to the Bakery. I’ve never seen that woman again.

Furthermore, I called the church in Hollviken to get an appointment regarding the church pre-school. Christina and I had an appointment the following Monday, and, yes, there was room for Hunter.

Hunter asked a million questions about the possibility of school and kept begging me to find friends. He asked if it was Sunday, yet, so he could play with David. He would ask if it was time to go back to Idaho, yet; that he missed Laura, Malachi, Alex, Abigail and Crystal. “You’ll find friends, soon, Hunter,” I would say, hoping it would be sooner than later. Phil’s brother-in-law had expressed concern for Hunter with regard to this time in Sweden (because his father had moved the family so much), so I felt Hunter’s pangs all the more.

The thought of riding a real train the next day soon diverted his attention away from his friends and his grandparents.

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