Saturday, August 17, 2013

I wish we lived here

This past week has been a little slice of a possible life that could have been, if things were different. It was a normal workweek for me and a normal daycare week for Zoe. Except we are in a small college town in upstate New York, 3400 miles from where we usually live in Stockholm. And except for that I enjoyed numerous intellectual academic conversations that are quite rare at my usually job. And except for how I was able to pick up Zoe early every single day because I'm not teaching and my life was so much simpler that I had more time for her. I enjoyed every minute of this but also realize that it is not realistic for us to ever move here. That opportunity was lost when I declined a post-doc here around 9 years ago. Now I get to go visit and my professor colleagues here get to ask if I ever consider moving here and I get to lie and say sure. If my situation was different of course I would be extremely happy to land a faculty position here (which is a stretch by any measure) but well, I'm stuck in Stockholm.

Zoe went to a daycare ten minutes walk away from where we lived, a walk through a wood lined residential neighborhood with four-way stops in each intersection. Occasionally the weed and wild flowers crossed over the sidewalk, from the ditch to the edge of people's gardens, creating what Zoe referred to as a little forest. She excitedly wined each time we drove her stroller through and pointed out all the different types of green. She learned which small streets I would let her cross without holding my hand and she learned the way that took us past the house with the funny toy horse in the front yard. "I wish we lived here, mommy", she said one of the first days as we walked home from daycare and I hmmm'ed. She then repeated it the day after and on Friday after I had picked her up, she explained a bit more: "I wish we had a house here, mom, I wish we lived here". I was really puzzled because of all our destinations, this is the first one where she has expressed that opinion. I mean, we go to Copenhagen all the time where her grandma lives alongside our other family but she has never said that there. I acknowledged her wish and explained that then we would live really far away from daddy. "But then daddy can come live here too!" she said, as if it was that easy.

But she has a good point. Things are good for kids here. The playgrounds are amazing and I was that mom that made all the other moms look bad by dropping Zoe off at 9am and picking her up at 4:15pm. We played almost every day with my colleague's son who is exactly Zoe's age and whom she got along with brilliantly. We went to see the waterfalls and we had pancakes for brunch on Saturday. The little food market on the way to dinner with another colleague had homemade popsicles and we just sat at the edge of the sidewalk and ate one each. A random lady stopped us at a coffeeshop and gave us 10 colorful balloons because they were used for a one-day opening event and were on their way to the trash. People said good morning to us when we passed them on the street and I had random conversation with fellow moms who completely understood that we had stopped in the middle of the path because Zoe needed to take her sandals off.

It has been nice. And I could take another week or month or year. But we are on to our way to the next part of the month long journey. Tomorrow we will go down to New York where Zoe's dad will pick her up and where I will take a train to a two day committee meeting. Zoe is a bit sad to leave but excited to see her dad. I'm excited that this week was so nice.

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