Cold and blustery wind rises from the sea and tunnels down between the buildings of Stockholm and pierce my face with the icy tingle of winter. I wrap up a little tighter and try to soak in the sun on my face as I stand on a city sidewalk while Stockholm Central Station rages with the traffic of a Sunday morning behind me. Anxious, I stand and wait. Today is the day I meet the family I will Au Pair for. Lingering doubts and fears present themselves in full force making my knees just a bit weak as I wonder if I will be what they thought, hoping that I can be good enough for the children's lives. My stomach churns with anticipation and fear. I love my surrounding, I love the sea and travel but I hate feeling scared, and I miss my girlfriends smile that eases me and I think of all of this a thousand times over while waiting. Waiting has always been, for me, torture but this waiting takes it to a new place where all there is is doubts fears and desire to run back to the sunny parks of Atlanta and warmth of familiar. Then, as I am contemplating the agony that i feel inside my stomach, a mini-van with the smiling faces of a family happy to meet, finally, someone they have entrusted so much to pulls up to the sidewalk and pops out ready with hugs and greetings. The anxious monster growing power inside my abdominal is now writhing full force as I load my bags climb into the back and feel everything I felt all morning in ten fold. As we ride through city I am a ten year old looking out of the window at the world around me and I feel small and scared and excited.
I arrive at the home I will be living and finally meet the children. Well, kind of. The smallest one is asleep and being shy, the little boy is attached to his father at the leg and refuses to show his face. The eldest, smiles at me with a knowledge admitting that "I know your here, and you don't speak my language." As I try to communicate with her I realize just how difficult this
is going to be until I get into the language class. Hopefully I can learn from them and them from me. It is the time of the afternoon that the Swedish have an after noon snack, so the family and I head to the town center and go to a little cafe filled with delicious looking small deserts and my mouth begins to water with excitement. The fastlagbulle is a floury sweet bun filled with loads of sweet soft cream that the Swedish use as a way of fattening up before lent. I sit with the large fastlagbulle in front of me and hope that it is as good as it looks because there are few things as embarrassing as
trying a new cultures food and wishing that
someone would kill your mouth because it tastes like boogers. As I tear as small piece from the top, dip it in the cream and begin to eat I am filled with a little taste party. It is wonderful. The bun is not to sweet and the cream is a perfect light-as-air consistency. It is a very tasty and very rich treat. I look forward to many more like these.
At dinner we discuss where I came from and my family as well as there. We learn about each other the most that we can over a meal. I learn the calender of activities for the week and what I will be doing. We show the kids where I am from on the map and just how far I was from home. We discuss and struggle with the differences in the metric system and Celsius to Fahrenheit. Then it is time for me to head down to my studio apartment. It is sleek with Swedish design and very clean. A small white table rests poetically under a green and yellow painting with a vase of tulips. A small bed lays in front of a small window and four large closet cabinets. All in all the sharp white of the room filled with splashes of color is very aesthetically pleasing but I feel the anxious monster churning below as I am overwhelmed with the reality that this is my home. I un-pack quickly and begin to relax and soak in my new surroundings. This will surely be a struggle and an adventure that will test and teach me so much. I look forward to all that is ahead of me.