After world travels, home has become my favorite place

  • Baheej's favorite salmon soup, presented in a Finnish soup bowl we brought home from Helsinki.

    Baheej's favorite salmon soup, presented in a Finnish soup bowl we brought home from Helsinki. Courtesy of Susan Anderson-Khleif

 
Updated 6/12/2021 8:35 AM

Over many years, my personal life and eventually my work life was constant travel. Really since I was in my early 20s. It has been very rewarding.

I went all over -- many places in the U.S. and some in Canada, of course, but also Northern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean, Morocco, Japan, Hong Kong, China, South Asia -- especially Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia; and then Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and even to the "end of the world" in Ushuaia, Argentina, at the southern most tip on Terra del Fuego, the land of fire. Then India. Not everywhere, but a lot. Sometimes with Baheej, sometimes by myself on business.

 

So once in a while a person asks me what is my favorite place? Not long ago, one of my granddaughters asked me that question.

First, it's a hard question to answer, because there are so many wonderful places in this country and on this globe. Secondly, memories of these places are very intricately tied to travel with my beloved Baheej. So the memories are sweet but some are also sad because he's not here to go with me anymore. It's coming up on the ninth anniversary of his death, and so I'm thinking of some of those wonderful trips. Sometimes thinking of those happy memories make me miss him too much.

Baheej was a traveler. Lucky for me, because that is how I met him. He came here to the U.S. to study, and became a citizen. And we married. A happy twist of fate.

He loved discovering other cultures -- the people, the food, the scenery, the music, all of it. He was a professor and always taught from a cross-cultural perspective. He inspired his students to travel and explore. And that is what we did together. It was a 44-year adventure. He was trilingual, but I was lucky that by the 1980s the world had pretty much adopted English as a universal language, at least in business, travel, hotels, restaurants and cafes, and all the younger folks spoke English. By then, if you tried to speak the local language in Holland or anywhere in Europe, the new generation would answer in English!

So when it comes to a favorite place it is complicated. I love many places, such as Holland. And Bergen in Norway is a special and scenic harbor town. We were there on our last trip abroad together in 2011. And a few places were both beautiful and mysterious such as Marrakech in southern Morocco. Or just plain fun and delicious, such as Greece, or Italy.

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If pressed, I'd say Northern Europe is my favorite -- Scandinavia really. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland. Not because I'm from American Swedish-Irish ethnicity, but because I am attracted to the family-friendly social policy, the food, the clothing, the climate, the design, the whole atmosphere and their healthy lifestyle. Nice mix of industrious, creative, hardworking people balanced with a pleasant social life.

The point is: Travel can really enrich our lives and provide new ideas and many fond memories to sustain ourselves. But I don't really miss travel. Not just because I've gotten used to COVID-19 restrictions, but because I traveled a lot and just don't have the urge. I'm happy to be at home. The truth is, my favorite place now is home. Sounds corny I know, but it's true. Really.

I would, however, like to travel to New Hampshire to see my dear relatives and friends there, and am looking forward to an October 2022 family reunion.

And I would like to go back to Sweden and to Finland and stay at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, and go out to that harbor restaurant in Helsinki and have salmon soup. And think of my beloved Baheej, who loved that salmon soup, and loved me. We shall see ...

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at sakhleif@comcast.net or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.

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