"I want to repeat one word for you: Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word... Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed." -- Don Miller
So we left.
Maybe it was that all of our familiar furniture was already placed in these foreign rooms, or maybe it was that sunlight streamed in through all our garret windows and made the place glow. Whatever the case, our cats had no trouble adjusting to their new surroundings. We unzipped the carriers slowly so that Disney and Crypto could ease their way out into the new space. They still wore their harnesses. Green camo for Disney and pink floral for Crypto. They'd spent the last 24 hours enclosed in the carriers, most of that time on planes between San Francisco and New York, then New York and Oslo. We'd pulled them out a few terrorizing times: going through security at SFO and then again at EWR, for a brief rest period at an airport hotel in Newark, New Jersey, and then finally at OSL where a veterinarian was on hand to examine them and grant our precious cargo official entry into Norway.
That was the longest day of our lives.
Two planes, a train, a taxi. Five giant suitcases, two cat carriers, and two whining cats. Four flights of stairs.
But as we entered the new flat, at once aware of our solitude and our togetherness, all the stress of the melted away.
Disney found the circle window in the living room quickly. He hopped up to the sill multiple times that first day to check out the new street so far below him. Birds played in the sky at his eye-level. He purred contentedly. Crypto sprawled on the floor in one of the rectangular patches of yellow sunlight on the wooden floor. She lay there like a swimmer floating in a pool of light.
Jonathan and I stepped out on our patio and walked to the corner of it. I pushed up on the banister and leaned forward, face full into the fresh April air, pointing myself southwest where I could see, half a kilometer away, the water of the Oslofjord. Jonathan stood behind me and placed one hand on each of mine, his chest pressed warmly to my shoulder blades.
That was exactly one year ago. And since then...
Row 01: Oslo Operahuset on our first day; Alfred Nobel; Bakery in Fredrikstad; Breadsticks from scratch
Row 02: Sunset view from our kitchen; Kissy shadows; Ferry to Hovedøya; Sitting on the anchor at Lysaker Brygge
Row 03: Ost (cheese) shop; Scoping routes at Hauktjern; 17 May at the Royal Palace; The woods on Bygdøy
Row 04: Vintage firetruck at Aker Brygge; Holmenkollen ski jump; Playing in the park; At the opera to see Peter Grimes
Row 05: Hike to Bjørnholt; Kitty love; My writing desk; 22 July Memorial
Row 06: Oslo Domekirke sign; Pølse; Getting some dog love; Volleyball near Oslo Central Station
Row 07: Stockholm Harbor; Our 8th Anniversary; The Vasa; Graffiti in Oslo
Row 08: Travel map with pins; Free concert at Rådhusplassen; Mushroom on the hike to Sinober; Autumnal Equinox carnival at Akerselva
Row 09: Fall colors; Vintage car in Oslo; Apple pie; Revision with Disney
Row 10: Kjøttmeis at Frognerseteren; Small lake near Sognsvann; Cezanne at the National gallery; Sunset from our porch
Row 11: Pumpkin carving; Autumn near Uranienborgkirke; Vintage trikk in Oslo; Terraces at Akershus
Row 12: Disney wants to be shipped home; Foggy day on Bygdøy; IKEA duvets; Alley in Copenhagen
Row 13: Tivoli Gardens; Cruise from Copenhagen to Oslo; Nyhavn; Paper star
Row 14: Thanksgiving; Seesaw above Bogstad Gård; Bluebird ornament; Reindeer at Bærums Verk
Row 15: First snow; Winter solstice sunrise from Frognerseteren; Christmas Skype with the California besties; Waffles
Row 16: Sunset from Bygdøy; Magpies return to their nest; Church in Geilo; Midight Ice Concert in Geilo
Row 17: Last snow; Cross-country skiing; Beard hat; Downhill skiing at Kvitfjell
Row 18: Spring walk at Vigelandsparken; Lion on Bygdøy; Frognerparken; Spring hike from Maridalsvannet to Sognsvann
Click on the image to see the actual size.
I remember how much I wanted to come to Oslo before we made the move. More than that, I remember wanting to leave California's Bay Area, to get out, to move on, to shrug off the harness and bridle of the life we'd been living, to be anywhere but there.
Oslo has done well for us as the "anywhere," but I have a much greater appreciation for all we left behind us now. California, specifically San Francisco, and more specifically the rolling golden hills and white windmills of Livermore, will always be home. Even on the best days here, we miss it. Almost as much as we miss the people.
Still, in the last year, I'm grateful to report that we've made many close friends here. I've also written more in the last year than I have in all the other years of my life combined. And we've barely scratched the surface of what Norway has to offer by way of natural adventure.
This summer we'll be camping, hiking, rock climbing, and traveling to both the U.S. and elsewhere in Europe. First, though, we're expecting our first visitors at the beginning of June, and I can't wait to play tour guide in my fair city. If I could, I'd take them to every place included in the collage above.
Thank you for coming along for this ride so far. Bring on Year Two!