I had just turned 30 and was having a big party in Stockholm in the flat I shared with my sister and our friend. My 30th birthday party also marked my move to San Francisco and I vividly remember my friends and I dancing while shouting along to “when you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair… …”
In every aspect possible and in every way I could then imagine, I was happy, my life was just the way I had always wanted it to be. I had a job I liked with good career opportunities within a bank, I was surrounded by friends and I lived an hour from my parents, a distance perfectly suitable for an adult woman and her overprotective parents. All of which was my definition of home. And as I was standing there, goodbye dancing with my friends, a fearful voice inside whispered; why would you leave all this?
For I had just recently, through Facebook, reunited with my old boyfriend from whom I had parted over 6 years ago. And for anyone else, I would have probably not moved across the Atlantic. But here I was, faced with a near statistical impossibility – both of us were single and so happy to reunite again, that we were ready to give this another shot. Our relationship had many obstacles the first time around, cultural opposition that the younger me couldn’t disregard, which led to our breakup. The older me, who had somewhere along the 6 years, decided to say fuck you to cultural expectations, couldn’t let logistics come in-between us now. So I packed it all up and bought a ticket to SFO.
Another nearly 6 years have now passed. Living in SF has been as much an adventure as it has been finding home, finding meaning and finding the calm within me. I have become a mother of two amazing girls, for which I’m forever grateful. I have found meaningful and lifelong friendships which have, in some sense taken the place of family since our biological family are so far away. I have found within myself the calm to stay grounded, focused and feeling worthy without having a career to prove it. I treasure the privilege of being able to focus wholeheartedly at raising my girls. And even though I still desire a career for myself, I trust that there will be time for that too.
For me, life in San Francisco has a different pace than life used to have in Stockholm. There’s also a sense of mutual agreement that San Franciscans accept each other regardless of where we come from, what we do for a living or who we love. I’m hoping that Stockholm has moved in this direction by the time I get there and if not, I will try to bring these values together with calmness with me.
And of course, that fearful voice inside me is back saying; why would you leave all this? And again I answer:
For now it’s no longer only me and my relationships that are on the table. Now there are bonds between grandparents and their grandkids, bonds between aunts, uncles and their nieces and bonds between cousins, to be taken into account. All of these relationships are fundamental to me and as much FaceTime as a family can possible endure, I know that these relationships need hugs and kisses to flourish. My husband has had limited time with his nieces for some years now we have been watching them grow up from a distance. It has become clear to us that going forward, we hope for less FaceTime and more hugs and kisses.
In the months to come, we will pack it all up again and move to Stockholm. A new (old) adventure will take place and the inevitable challenges that follow change, will arise. As hard as it is to leave our beautiful home San Francisco, as much as we will miss our dear friends here, we have to trust that following love is the right thing to do.
Now, perhaps more than ever before, considering the current situation in the world, it’s evident that if there’s one thing we can’t have enough of in life, it is time with our loved ones.