Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Home is where your duvet is

For the past couple of weeks I have been looking at apartments, each sunday as is customary in Sweden, going to 'viewings' with Zoe to see if we can find something just slightly bigger. Or that is, one with a bedroom for me too so I can get a proper bed and not have to sleep on a sofa bed. It was actually a comment from Zoe's dad that got to me and made me think about moving. He said, during one of our not so easy conversations about things that I also have this "strange apartment", as in, that it is not appropriate for me and Zoe. It is 34 square meters, roughly 360 square feet, one nice sized living room and a small room for Zoe that just fits her bed and toys. The kitchen is separate but open towards the living room. The large bay window faces east and it is on 5th floor, which means it is very light and I love having breakfast at the balcony. It is located smack in the middle of everything, 10 min from daycare, five minutes from 10+ cafes and restaurants. I love it and think it is probably the best apartment I have had (ironically perhaps apart from the one Zoe's dad and I bought, the one he took over and lives in now). In any case the comment got me thinking and I found myself going as far as to talk to my bank and get a maximum price, almost cry over one apartment that I couldn't afford and seeing five or six potential ones.

Today we saw the last one though. It was a slightly bigger one but not by much, it had a bedroom for Zoe and an alcove room for me. The wallpaper in the kitchen was hideous though and the built-in beds needed to be lowered. Worst of all though was the location, it took us 30 min including a bus half the way to get from daycare and as we walked away, I felt we had ended up on the countryside. No people, low houses, lots of trees and no shops. I knew this was exactly the one I could actually afford so if I wanted a bedroom for myself and one for Zoe that will fit a bigger bed, this was it.

Setting up a picnic
When we got home, I started cooking while Zoe went to play in her room. I handed her her doll through the gap between the kitchen and her room (probably made to let light into the kitchen) and she proceeded to bring her duvet out in the living room, setting up for a picnic. When dinner was ready she insisted that we sit on the floor, her bare legs under the duvet, and eat the edamame beans and the spaghetti I had whipped up. I let her because it looked so cozy. And then I realized what I should have realized several weeks ago. Zoe is completely happy here in our 'strange apartment'. She is in no need of more space, a different setup or even a bigger bed. She is entirely happy here and so am I. In fact this apartment makes living in Stockholm more acceptable. I can hear the buzz from the city and we can see the moon from the window. I decided not to look at any more apartments at all from now on and throw away the brochures I had gathered. This is our home. Our wonderful home. 

1 comment:

  1. Clearly your ex hasn't heard of the Tiny House movement! Speaking from experience, kids love small cozy spaces anyway. It's like the Danish hygge, I believe? Rather judgmental of him, regardless.

    Speaking of your ex: from what I have read (and admittedly that is limited information), he sounds like a controlling person. Did you move to California because of his job, or yours? And it sounds like you moved to Sweden because of his job. Has your career (and you) always been second fiddle in your relationship? If so, it sounds like you did the right thing to leave and take a time-out. If he couldn't handle that and "didn't want you" because you were claiming your power...well, frankly you deserve someone who will respect your work and beliefs.

    There is a lovely poem by Mary Oliver called The Journey -- if you haven't read it, it's online. In my case, it helped affirm that I was doing the right thing to move on, even if at times the journey was very difficult. I hope you are proud of yourself for having the self-esteem to pick up and go. That is also being a good role model for your daughter, I think. As they say often in the States, no regrets!

    (The nail polish comment also seems controlling. It reminds me of the lyrics from an India Arie song called Video that mentioned painting nails. If you haven't heard it, it's very empowering. And fighting all the time is not good for kids. My parents fought constantly, and I secretly wished they would separate since it seemed like they would be happier. You can try to hide stuff from children, but they can sense a lot!)

    I know therapy/counseling is considered a bit taboo in Europe (compared to the States), but if you haven't found one you like -- search for English-speaking therapists in Stockholm. There is a lovely American lady that might be very helpful for your situation. It sounds like you are less isolated than before, but close friends who also bring their judgments and opinions in can confuse things. Having an objective, supportive ear works wonders. I found counseling very helpful for my inter-cultural relationship...and transition out of it. (I wouldn't trust a Swedish therapist, sorry!)

    How does one say good luck in Danish? I will stop using Swedish. I should anyway as I still do not have great feelings about the country: passed through Copenhagen last year and called a friend in Malmö -- I only half-joked that if she wanted to visit, she would have to come to Denmark because I was boycotting Sweden! So I really do know how you feel.