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In a house, on GÃ¥rdskiftegatan 7, in Ytterby, Sweden, life is changing. The family if moving. Everyone knows. They are moving to the other side of the world. None of them have been there â€” to Phoenix, except the father. “You will love it! We will have our own swimming pool, we will have a huge house, it seldom rains and it will be a great learning experience. You will love it!” The family would move six months later. The two youngest really look forward to the move.
“Can you believe it? Our own swimming pool!”
The eldest daughter, Bella, however, is not as exited about the big adventure. She feels that everything is great in her life at this point and she is really looking forward to starting a new school year in a new school in town after summer. And then her friends, how would she be able to live so far away from them? The mother can see that her daughter Bella has doubts about being so far away. Hopefully these doubts would disappear with time. After all, they would not move until June.
“We are moving.” The first time Bella told her friends about the move she could not help the tears; they had to come. Because saying it out loud meant it was true, she would leave. Then the tears stopped. It’s unreal, the feeling of moving. And at the same time, too real. Telling friends, teachers, neighbours. Soon telling became easier. Part of conversation. Still, unreal. Sometimes maps of the world were found in classrooms. Frightening. The world is so big. Moving so far away.
She has a picture of how it will be. Hot, sunny. Her dad tells the family what it looks like. The desert. Moving to the desert. Trying to imagine high school. Movies sometimes help. Others scare her, like Mean Girls. Is it really like that? Cool kids, popular kids, sport kids, smart kids and so on. Is school really divided into groups? Where will she belong? Smart, cool, popular, sporty? She has no idea.
She loves horses, they are her passion. Their strong bodies, long legs, beautiful colors, and the most fascinating eyes. Horses’ feelings are shown through their eyes. Riding them. Brushing them. Just being around horses calm her down and makes her feel free like nothing else can. Free like a bird in the sky. With the move to Phoenix, would she have to give her passion up? The thought scares her.
“As long as I can see hoses I will survive.”
Time has been replaced by a countdown. Six moths have passed. Now, June. Schools are out the 15th of June. They would move by the end of June. Her parents promise that they would come back to visit, next summer. Movers pack up the house. Empty it. Send it all to Phoenix by boat. It is time. She has to say goodbye to her life in Ytterby. At least for now. Three years. Say goodbye to her friends. And the horses. The house is empty; everything is packed, shipped off to Phoenix. The last days in Sweden pass quickly. The next day they would fly to the other side of the world. The move is not unreal anymore. Reality strikes, just like the wall of heat that welcomes them when the get off the plane in Phoenix.
The first week in Phoenix feels like a vacation to them. Living in a fancy hotel. Swimming in the pool every day. Life is grand. However, vacation would end soon. The family moves into a large house with a diving pool. Their new home.
Bella and her parents go to the school she would start, speak to a counselor and decide which classes she will take. Sandra Day O’Connor High School. The name sounds so fancy. The school is so big. She hopes she will be accepted and that she can accept the school too. August 13th, she starts school. High School. Her first class, French, and she is late because she almost got lost. So many people in one place. But the teacher understands. By the end of the day she is exhausted. So many people. So extremely hot in the sun. A vast amount of homework, already, surprises her. She is relieved by the groups not being as polarized as she had feared.
Life in Phoenix has a routine. Go to school, come home, cool off, do homework, eat dinner, hang around, go to bed and so on. Already, it is Thanksgiving, something the family has never celebrated before. It is very interesting to be a part of the culture here, the family learns a lot. Then, winter holidays. Celebrating Christmas without snow and cold is very strange. It is fun though; it is a much bigger deal in the States. The street looks like a winter wonderland, without snow. So many lights and decorations.
Bella starts to long for Sweden terribly, starts to live in a sort of bubble. Isolates herself in her longing for what used to be, in Sweden. She becomes a ghost, so pale. Loses all of her passion. People do not see her anymore. Her life could have ended badly if she had not discovered Tokio Hotel. A band from Germany who write songs in both German and English. Their lyrics are about living on even if everything seems lost. They help her live again. There is a difference between being alive and actually living. She starts living again. Living every second.
She makes new friends and feels much better when she has someone to talk to. She and her parents go the stable and set up lessons. Finally horses to be around. Finally.
Summer is coming. She can feel it. The days are getting hotter. Preparing for summer finals in school. Families making plans and setting dates for trips. Then, summer. Time runs away so fast, already one year passed. A whole year. And now they could go back, back to Sweden, during summer.
That summer she goes back. It is very strange, eerie; everything has changed. At the same time, nothing has changed. Meeting her friends is like meeting new people, they are not the same, nor is she. She has grown, emotionally. And so have they, but they have grown in different directions and Bella realises how much of their lives she has missed. Some friends are a delight to see again. Like Johanna, they have so much fun hanging out and going to the sea. It was as if Bella never left, they still know each other inside out. Other friends are a disappointment. Sara leaves early to go hang out with someone else, on the night of the reunion. Bella is there, and so are her three closest friends, Sara being one of them. But Sara leaves.
Bella understands that she does not belong in Ytterby. Not at the moment. She belongs in Phoenix. Reality is there. Her life is there. So when it is time to return to Phoenix, she accepts it and she knows that she will manage two more years there.
Time passes so fast. Better make the most of the experience. Or as Tokio Hotel say: Live every second. Here and now. Do not let go. Before it is too late.