Do you ever feel nostalgic about the present? On Friday, this not-as-of-yet nostalgia overwhelmed me. It was a clear day; the chilly wind smacked my cheeks red and wrang tears from my eyes. The tears weren't attached to anything, unstemmed, like the dry leaves that skittered on the sidewalks around me. But if I paused and thought, there were a million things I could give the tears over to. Distance from my family, the troubles of a friend, the fading of youth, buried griefs, the painful quickness of time.
Audrey and Jonathan enjoying the fall colors at Akershus, 30 October 2011.
Such feelings are the terrain of the season. The trees and bushes which have, for so many months, flourished with health around us, now exhale brightly for the last time this year. The colors of fall spark something in me, memories and regrets. Last year, when Oslo was new to us, I walked Jonathan home from work, more than four miles, many times. (Sometimes I took the train with him in the mornings and walked or jogged home on my own.) But this year I've neglected the practice. For no reason. After only a year, I began taking it all for granted.
It's entirely possible, almost inevitable, that, one day, I will look back on these easy, unburdened years in Oslo as some of the happiest of my life. I will be grateful that we took the time to be us, just Jonathan and me. I will scoff at my homesickness and laziness. Silly girl , I will think. You didn't know the depth of what you had. That blessed isolation with the one you loved, the one who loved you, was and is rare .
Dan Fogelberg sings:
But down in the canyon, the smoke starts to rise.
It rides on the wind 'til it reaches your eyes.
When faced with the past, the strongest man cries.
I'm good at gathering souvenirs. Every time we go someplace new, I find something small to take back and put on my office shelf. A glass mushroom, a tiny pair of wooden shoes, an echidna in pewter. In this way, I will always remember these good, adventurous times. On Friday, I hopped a bus to Jonathan's office and we walked home for the last time this year. The sunset over the fjord was pink. As we walked the the chilly, damp streets in our neighborhood, I reminded myself to absorb everything. The crinkle at the corner of Jonathan's blue eyes. The smell of wood smoke from the chimneys. The warm ball of my hand, wrapped in Jonathan's own, and tucked deep in the pocket of his jacket. I tried to keep it all for the future. More than that, I tried to enjoy it now.
Friday's pink sunset over Oslofjord near Lysaker.
This morning, Jonathan moved around in the darkness of our bedroom, dressing and preparing for the day, doing his best not to wake me. I could hear his shufflings; the jingle of his belt buckle. Then he appeared beside me, leaned in and kissed me goodbye. The door closed behind him, and I burrowed further under the covers to go back to sleep.
But then the door swung open again. Jonathan called to me softly and raised the shade on the window. He whispered, "It's raining, and it will probably all disappear soon, so you need to come see this."
I crawled over to his side of the bed and knelt beside him to peer out the window into the street. A light blanket of snow had covered the steepled, gabled roofs of the neighboring buildings in white. White were their small lawns; white were the tops of cars. The tire treads of a single vehicle cut blackly into the layer of snow in the street. Jonathan's hand was flat to the small of my back. My breath fogged the window.
And I was presently grateful.