[caption id="attachment_549" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Swede and two halflings safely aboard the plane to Sweden."][/caption]

Strangely, we arrived in Sweden without any major problems. It was as if when boarding the plane the world breathed a sigh of relief for us - if the world revolved around my family anyways. Our luck is pretty average, the typical 50/50 chance of either going shit-hits-the-fan or ending fairly well. This probability increases linearly with how people are in our traveling party, though. And exponentially when traveling with children, doubled when traveling by air! And already, days before leaving the country, our luck seemed to sour.

Tuesday evening we lost pressure in our bathrooms and the chain holding the toilet plunger to the handle was caught under the plunger. For several hours the toilet thought it must keep filling up with water, and well, when it has no where else to fill, it flows over... We didn't know until we got the kids ready for bed around 8-9 at night, so it had been flowing steadily for a few hours and spilled into the storage space behind the bathroom, thankfully. One of the few times I've been happy my house isn't entirely level. We sacrificed several rugs and fleece blankets to mop up the water. Come to think about it now, I think I left them hanging over the porch rails.... oh well.

Linda got a plumber the next day and apparently he fixed the pressure problem, but that same evening the problem remained (the chain under the plunger was obviously an easy fix, and a separate issue). So, basically, we said fuck it and left it in the hands of our realtor to coordinate with the plumber to get it fixed. We were leaving early the next morning so there was nothing more we could do. Fun times!

Other problems were more minor and typical of last minute crap that comes up when moving. We couldn't fit everything in the luggage we had so throwing out old clothes and sneakily discarding stupid kid toys (shh! don't tell them!). My trash container was overflowing and we ran out of trash bags so I left all our food in the cupboards and fridge. I slipped in a generous tip on the counter for the cleaning lady with a note to use, donate or discard ANYTHING in the house she could find. This included the 2 twin beds, queen mattress, laptop table, several empty plastic storage bins and FSM knows what else.

The house has been on the market since October and our local market seems almost dead. We've had 5 showings since then and lowered the price more than $20,000. We've resigned to taking a (big) loss on it. Sadly, my parents were enormously generous and helped us to make the down payment for our first house and I will not be able to recover all of their investment no matter what. The house is already listed for $19,000 less than we paid for it. Renting it out is hardly an option where we live and now we are mostly ashamed of the situation and just want to be rid of the burden.

On Wednesday I had to trade in our cheap, compact rental car for a larger SUV (no minivans or cargo vans were available in a 60-75 mile radius) to drive from Beaufort to the Newark airport in New Jersey. Taking our dog with us necessitated that we take a direct flight to Sweden and the only option for that in the US are with SAS airlines from either Newark or Chicago. My brother lives halfway in DC, so we chose Newark.

When I made the reservation with Avis about a week ago, they said they could reserve a Dodge Durango for me on that day, which would have been just big enough to fit 4 people, a ton of luggage and a large dog crate (with dog). Of course when I got there all they had was a Ford Escape. Not quite the same thing as a Durango and it looked like it would not even fit the crate, much less all the luggage! I was, of course, rather pissed off. The man at the counter explained that I reserved something in a certain class (the Escape was class F) and they were comparable. I tried to tell him that he was full of shit in slightly nicer words (the Durango happened to be in the LARGER class size S, by the way). So, even if his argument was true he wasn't even right. He sympathized with me though and gave me a pretty deep discount and we reserved another cheap, compact car just in case we were forced to drive 2 cars to fit it all.

When I got home, we found the crate just fit snugly in the back of the Escape and we tried to fit the luggage around it all. The only way it would work with one car was to strap all the large luggages to the top of the car. I was not very happy about this since it was a long way, over 2 days, and it forecasted rain along the route. Nevertheless, I went to Ace hardware and bought some bungees and a tarp and we went to town on it. The smaller luggage went in the backseat and footwells and with the 4 us (2 kid seats) we fit in as snug as a bug! It was quite impressive and not too uncomfortable either. Thus, we canceled the second car and set out for Fairfax, Virginia, Thursday morning.

This is when is the travel gods smiled upon us and our luck improved greatly. As soon as we drove out of our driveway I could feel the change. We were leaving and would likely never be there again. Not that I don't want to, but realistically I doubt that we would see our old home after this. It became the start of an adventure and the end of a stagnant life. We needed to live our life as if it were an adventure again, and not a chore. Just knowing that before us lies complete uncertainty makes our future feel bright. I have absolutely no clue what I'm going to do hereafter. I just hope my family and I have fun and never lose our sight on what's truly important. I think this is more the swedish way. That life is to be lived and work or employment is a means to live life, not the life itself. I don't know if Sweden is the cure, but it is part of the journey to figure out how I can live a good life, build a lovely home for my family and support it well.

Swedish word of the day: Lagom - just right, moderate