Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to Sweden January to June 2010

The napkin the flight attendant gave me with coffee reads, “Ingólfur Arnarson was the first settler in Iceland, more than 1100 years ago.

“His trip from Norway lasted four days and there were no napkins.”

I suppose this information is supposed to help me with the pains running up and down the backs of my legs and back from the two flights between Seattle, Reykjavik and Copenhagen. Never mind the fact that it is difficult to adjust my position as my left arm is pinned under the bowling ball weight of a sleeping six year old.

Such is the life of adventure. When we took off from Iceland’s Keflavik airport, it was nine a.m. and black as night with the wart of a moon on the dark morning’s face. At cruising altitude, the edge of the earth blazed the light of a distant star-fire and I was too tired to keep my eyes open because I’d spent the earlier flight watching documentaries on Iceland’s music scene and the volcanic eruption of 1973.

Our six hour flight left Seattle at 3:30 in the afternoon. It’s difficult to realize the imperative of sleep so early in one afternoon even if it was very early morning the next day at our destination—especially for an excitable six year old who wishes to conquer the in-flight caveman game and must use the allotted space for three people to conquer it in.

The flight to Copenhagen will land in an hour. My husband and the six year old are as asleep as possible in an uncomfortable airplane setting. As you already read, I finally gave up and took some coffee. We had already eaten breakfast at the Keflavik airport, along with hundreds of travelers.

We are returning from a short two week visit to our homeland and house, including visits to family and friends as well as suffering bouts of illness. There were homeowner concerns to be fixed around the house, meetings with those who watch over the place when we’re gone, and business to attend when offices were not closed for the holidays. Then there were the holidays and packing it all up again. Our son spent as many hours as possible playing with his neighborhood friends. The list of what we couldn’t finish and people we didn’t have time to see was long enough to bring on a wistful regret and nagging questions about how much longer we will be leaping continents.

By the way, we have no idea.

One thing I have figured out is how to streamline my experience in the security check line at the airport (slip-on shoes, no coat, no belt, no watch, no barrette, and an easy to remove computer). I’ve learned to be flexible about who takes us to the airport (this time it was my middle daughter) and whether or not my oldest daughter will make it to Seatac to say hello or goodbye. I even have a favorite massage therapist at the “Massage Bar” in the C Concourse in Seattle, where Horizon pulls in from a Spokane flight. You can be sure I make a stop (“not the ‘Massage Bar,’ again,” the little one whines) before hoofing it down long corridors, escalators and trains to the International terminal.

Hunter’s carry-on still trips me as he zigzags only slightly in front of me. I haven't learned how not to ache from long flights. I haven’t figured out how to say good-bye without a tear or how to be completely sure I’ve left the house in order before I leave it behind for months.

When I’m on the airplane and can’t worry any longer about what will break, spill or wrinkle in the luggage, I’ve said my good-bye’s, the house is far behind, and the local cell phone turned off for flight, a transformation happens. This is the transformation we all wish for when we dream of travel. My adventure begins. I am free. It feels like I leave the whole complicated world of ownership, bills, relationships, unaccomplished to-do lists and neglected responsibilities behind.

This fantasy lasts only the few hours we give ourselves to fly, land, sleep off a few hours of jet lag and eat pre-packaged airline food (now at extra cost) before the refrigerator on the other side needs to be filled because someone’s stomach is growling, and there are calls to be returned on the other cell phone. We realize the car is nearly out of gas when it’s time for Phil to go to work and Hunter to school. And, oh look! There are already dishes and laundry—how did those pile up in so few hours?

It doesn’t take much to grow skeptical of any fantasy. Nor is it difficult to build up an escape mentality between one world and the other: Just when one world feels heavy with responsibility, snap!, it’s time to flee to the other.

Friendships are hard to maintain because it feels like we always need help but have little time to help others. This reality grips me often, jarring my brain out of fantasy for days and weeks. My apologies, sincere as they may be, sound hollow even to me.

Let it be known, I love this adventure. I just wonder what it really costs--how many friendships will faze out for lack of quality and quantity time? Factor in the belief that loving God means loving those He created in tangible ways. You can imagine my dilemma.

Some days I want to simply shut myself up in the house and not worry about it, but that can turn into days of the same and a familiar loneliness sets in--the kind I've felt many times in my life and in many circumstances. We weren't meant to feed off of the meat of our own brains and emotions for very long. Jesus said we can't live on only bread, either, but "by every word that comes from the mouth of God." I need the sustenance of God and His church!

Don’t make me choose between Idaho and Skane. I wouldn’t be able to do it. It would be nice of God and circumstances just made that decision for me. Flying into Copenhagen is still a thrill. A “yippee!” wells up in my throat when we cross the five mile bridge to Sweden. The same thing happened to me when I took a quick trip over Washington State's Olympic mountains to see my daughter and again when we traveled north in Idaho to see Phil's folks. I can't tell you how many places I've been that have struck me repeatedly as beauty I could drink on a regular basis.

This week, I hope to have the stamina and determination to go on my four hour trek to see the gray seals. This is the last month I can do it before fall.

And who knows where we’ll be in the fall…

1 comment:

Tumblewords: said...

It's nice to be able to keep up with you, even a little bit, by this method! Hoping 2010 is good to you and yours.