Somewhere there is a plane buzzing across an azure sky, a big one. It shuttles people across oceans, countries, continents. Most of those people are merely traveling, and having been one of them fairly frequently over the past six years, I envy them both the journey and the return home.
But some passengers are doing something else far more permanent. The homes they have left behind them are vacant, doors locked and lights off. Rather than saying 'Goodbye' to their loved ones at the airport gate, they hugged longer, kissed harder, and said 'Farewell.' These other people aren't coming back anytime soon. They are relocating. And in less than ten days, I will no longer be able to refer to that determined group as 'They,' for soon it will include my husband and me. Soon we will be on our way to Norway.
Somewhere there is a boat, a cargo ship whose bulk and breadth I cannot comprehend. She is doubtless a mathematical and mechanical wonder, forging prow-first through waves many, many stories high. That boat holds cargo containers the size of a train's boxcars as ably as I might handle boxes of matches. The boxes are strapped down, bolted to the floor and the ships' sides because the ocean treats gravity like a chew toy. Inside one of those containers are contents of my life.
A black leather couch and recliner. A television. A bed, both the old frame and the brand new mattress. A couple hundred books and their cases. A wedding portrait of us painted by my talented mom-in-law. Summer clothes. Scrapbooks. Dishes, including six place settings of my never-used fine china. My beautiful writing desk, fountain pens, paper. Christmas ornaments. XBOX 360. Cooking utensils. Decorative elements like votive candleholders and framed pictures, framed poetry. Computers, hardware and software, printer. Coats, coats, and more coats. Jewelry. The kitchen table and newly covered chairs.
All of it is bound for Norway.
Somewhere there is a house, a two-bedroom, three-story condo. The living room is painted red, green, and yellow, shades that make me smile, but the walls are basically bare. There is a fireplace that lights up with the flip of a switch, and a furry cat bed curled before it. Our neighbors' children scamper and flick marbles across their own hardwood floor and their footfalls echo through the ceiling and reverberate in the space of our living room. All that remain are two cat-scratched red chairs (still perfect for reading) and an oversized corner desk that dwarfs the laptop we place there. One could cartwheel from corner to corner in the big room and knock over nothing at all. In the bedroom our old futon is flat to the floor, limp and hard as stone, wrapped in our oldest, most threadbare sheets. I am happy to have held onto my hairdryer; it cannot make the move, incompatible with the voltage and wattage provided through sockets overseas. Our walk-in closet holds enough clothing to take me through 10 weeks. I'll have to do laundry, but I will have no dry cleaning. I've thrown away all mismatched socks, all mateless earrings, any item with a hole in it.
I understand that Norwegians are an economizing people. I am hoping that this streamlining will help me adjust. I vow not to hoard, not to collect. I promise not to sentimentalize the silly stuff, bottles of hot sauce and Homecoming corsages.
Somewhere there is a man. He is slight and strong, with playful blue eyes and dimples that only seem to show up when he's laughing with me. His sights are set on that land of green and ice, of trolls and fjords. More than six years ago I grafted myself to him so that we could become a single living, breathing, abiding element. Together we photosynthesize. I only know sleep when he is at my side and his breathing is muffled by our sheets, and I only know walking when our fingers are tangled and our conversation is weaving before us in the air, and I only know living in tandem. What came before has been forgotten except to say that it was lesser than what I now experience so fully with him.
But then there's that blasted big plane, that shuttle to a new world and a new life. It's coming for him. We asked for it, and it answered. The journey begins in less than ten days.
Somewhere there is a monstrous loneliness, and it is on the prowl. It seeks to compile the miseries of a separation of thousands of miles with the frustrations of a separation of nine hours. Every complication will be magnified. Every defeat will appear epic. And I've been spoiled. When I stub my toe, Jonathan comes to me and wraps me a healing embrace, willing my pain to cross from my throbbing toes to his own, anything to keep me whole and smiling. When something breaks, he fixes it. When something goes amiss, he solves it. I remember being an independent, capable woman, but that memory is fuzzy with a fragrant, nurturing moss. When Jonathan is gone, I'll live. I'll solve the problems and fix the breaks. But my heart will be heavy with the acknowledgement of a Jonathan-shaped void at every encounter with the real world. That is the monstrous loneliness, and he's lurking somewhere, waiting for me.
I imagine that a pale twin of that loneliness will make the journey to Norway with Jonathan, who will, in his deft, able way, relegate the loneliness to a corner in his apartment. He'll refuse to look at it except in the winking moments before sleep descends each night, or on a walk down a pretty path where the light is playing poetically on foreign leaves which he knows I would reach out to touch if only I were there with him. Jonathan will busy himself entirely with the business of preparing for a life with unpronounceable street names, a socialized healthcare system, a 25% Value Added Tax, and a dependence on public transportation. Yes, he will be busy, and the loneliness will bide its time unenthusiastically, striking low blows at odd intervals, until I am at last on my way there, too.
Somewhere there is a date, and I wish I could bring it to me sooner. A date on which another plane, a different plane, just as big, will slide up to a gate at SFO ready for me. Our little family, husband, wife, and definitely-not-rabid cats will board and settle. With any luck, the cats will resign themselves to the fate worse than death of being boxed up in a plane cabin for almost a whole day, will quiet and sleep at our feet. And when we land in Oslo, when our cab has deposited us at the doorstep of our new home, Jonathan will take my hand in a rush of familiar warmth and smooth fingers, and we will move inside. Will close the door behind us. Will unzip the cat carriers. Will stand shoulder to shoulder. Will exhale.
Somewhere there is a life awaiting me that looks unlike this one I've been living in all ways but one, and I would go through all of this a thousand times over if only to hold onto him forever.