The building in which I teach was once owned by the university across the street, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet or SLU, an agricultural college. While the land was under their ownership, birch trees were taken from up and down Sweden and planted along the road. In the fall, these trees lose their leaves according to wherever they come from in Sweden, from the Arctic Circle to Malmö. Now that it is firmly autumn here in Uppsala, some of these trees have lost their leaves entirely, some have leaves changing colors, and some have yet to show any signs of losing their summer abundance. Though these adult trees have grown just a few meters from one another, they retain the seasonal cycles of their origins. I walk past this grove daily and I can't help but see it for the metaphor it is. I feel like one of those trees sometimes. I am very much rooted here and rooted elsewhere, very much a product of the places I have known before. It has me wondering - how much of home do we hold on to? How much of our past experiences define our present? And is that a decision we can make for ourselves? I'm not sure I have any answers, just more questions. But I do know that this is the challenge I face, establishing roots in a place where I am so obviously a transplant, an expat, an unfamiliar birch tree. It is a challenge I have chosen many times before - in Boston, in Louisville and here - and it is a one I will likely choose again. And what a worthwhile challenge it is.
P.S. Two months in today and just received word that I'll be here through June. These roots will grow a little deeper... Exciting stuff!