I learned a new expression in Norwegian yesterday, which strangely enough I had never heard before: Det er bedre å hoppe i det, enn å krype i det. This translates roughly to “It is better to jump into it than to creep (or crawl) into it”, which perfectly summarizes the past few days.
The travel was, as expected, long and arduous. When I finally arrived in Oslo, hopelessly exhausted and disoriented, the suddenness of it all was totally overwhelming. There I was, having spoken Norwegian only in my own head and ever so occasionally on Skype for three years – and suddenly, it was very clear that it was not, in fact, an abstract language of thoughts and dreams and sporadic writings, but an actual official language of a country. The immediate immersion was like being dropped, in a total sleep-deprived haze, into the deep end of a cold swimming pool. For the first few hours, I gasped for air and struggled to stay afloat. Baffled by the southern dialects being spoken around me, I began to wonder if I even remembered Norwegian half as well as I thought I did, or if I had just been dreaming it all along? I promptly ordered a cup of coffee and forced myself awake during the six-hour layover. Was it really this expensive before? I found myself wondering, marveling at my $9 coffee. A dense fog set in, the vague outlines of aircraft shifting in and out of focus in a world of deep blues and greys. Snow blanketed the ground. Later, from the plane, total blackness lay below – tiny, ever-occasional groupings of lights scattered sparsely throughout the darkness.
When I finally got to Evenes and boarded the airport bus, I cried the whole way to Narvik. Happy tears, mind you, of sheer relief, which had never happened before and was actually rather startling at the time. I had missed northern Norway so much, so deeply, every minute of every day I haven’t been here since 2008, that I literally couldn’t believe I was actually on the bus, flying past all these familiar places in the darkness, things I recognized. Bjerkvik. Narvik Camping. And then finally Narvik, with every little change so obvious – Rimi has a new logo, I’m fairly certain, Narvik Kino is now Aurora Kino, and there is a GIGANTIC hotel right in the middle of everything, where there used to be nothing. Luckily, by that time I had gotten myself together a bit, and happily met my host parents, Eva and Stian, at the bus stop. It was then confirmed, that, no, I had not forgotten Norwegian – not at all. I just only speak the northern dialect.
And then I was “home”, and everything was more or less the same as it ever was. By the end of the evening (I stayed up way too late talking with everyone, of course), I practically felt like I had never left. Everything slips into the same rhythm, just like magic.
My old high school.