I found something I wrote at a midway point through the trip:
"This is as painful as a birth or a metamorphosis, so that I dream of it at night and feel like a creature caught in a flood, groping sometimes for a rock or a branch, something stable to hold onto.This trip has changed me, which I am told is normal.
I'm not even sure how I feel about my American-ness anymore. A week ago, my heart yearned toward Sweden, a mythical, unknown Sweden, and I wanted to reject America outright. Do I still?
I now realize there are things inside me that are American and that I value and want to keep: I am strong, capable, independent and I live in a world of possibility."
I also came home to a terrific mess -- of unpaid bills and looming deadlines and maxed out finances -- which I'm also told is normal.
I have to scramble to get ready to teach my class, have to hurriedly revise my syllabus and daily plan. My creativity and personal vision elude me, however, so the result is quite generic.
There is a flood of work-related email to wade through, academic politics I'm not ready to engage with, budget cuts, protests and administrative requirements.
Somehow, I felt beautiful in Sweden. It is a land full of beautiful people and I felt like one of them. But here, I feel utterly invisible. Why is that? Something shone its light on me there, and here I am in the shadows.
I missed some important meeting yesterday, and then showed up today for one I didn't have to attend. It was good though, because suddenly I was surrounded by professors, greeting me enthusiastically with hugs and smiles, delivering good news that lightened my spirit, saying yes to requests I had already given up hope about.
All these wonderful, smart people whom I get to call my colleagues for a few more months, this is surely something to count among my blessings. Everything will feel better when I finally fully remember who I am.