The time is 11 PM in Skarstad, Norway, a tiny collection of houses nestled in a beautiful, but very remote fjord far above the arctic circle. The wind howls outside, thick flakes of dense, wet snow blasting horizontally past the window.
“It would be, like, brilliant to go for a ski right about now,” says Tor Edvin.
“Yeah…yeah, it would,” I reply, yawning as snow slams into the side of the house. I’m torn between enthusiasm for everything in existence, and slight skepticism and fatigue.
“Shall we, then?”
And in the name of spontaneity, we’re off, trekking through the darkness through deep drifts of freshly fallen snow. I ask Tor Edvin to shine his headlamp back in my direction every so often so I can see where I’m going. We shuffle around in thick winter clothes, tripping over unseen rocks and slopes, getting totally blasted by the wind, but somehow it’s euphoria. We laugh and laugh and stare in wonder out at the vague silhouettes of houses and the harbor, gleaming soft tungsten orange in the snowy haze. We’re home around midnight and totally drenched, laughing, sticky klister ski wax stuck to our mittens. Inside is everything I’ve dreamed and nostalgically remembered. Thick piles of fishing nets in the corner, ancient family photos on the walls, warm wood and vibrant colors. Candlelight and good food and warm, happy people, like family. This is where I spent the night of what would otherwise have been my senior prom, five years ago. While my friends in the US were getting dressed up and driving around in limousines, I was laughing hysterically under the northern lights at 2 in the morning, learning how to unclog a toilet with a tree branch. I couldn’t be happier about this.
Anyway, it’s been a long time since I updated last, but as Tor Edvin has reminded me, you’ve got to spend some time experiencing if you’re going to have anything worth writing about. This is true. Since I last updated, I have swam in the Norwegian ocean in frigid winter winds with a lovely woman from Turkey, taken an extremely idyllic road trip to the “island kingdom” of Lofoten, taken pictures that I’m proud of, stayed up late visiting a Swedish artist in Svolvær, and made an epic journey through a very surreal snowstorm back to Skarstad, Tor Edvin’s childhood home. Ironically, the entire journey went as smooth as could be up until we pulled into their driveway, at which point the car promptly slid into a ditch. We therefore spent over half of today digging it out. Anyway.
Here are some pictures. Not from here and now, but from before. Before we went to the Island Kingdom of Lofoten, before Tor Edvin drove down from Tromsø to pick me up. I accompanied my host family into Swedish Lapland for a weekend, where there was bitter cold and ice crystals and fog. There was darkness and frost and sculptures made of snow, huge polar dogs with long, thick fur and bright blue eyes. We walked the frozen streets in heavy parkas and sealskin shoes, slept on the floor of an elementary school. It was magical.