Saturday, December 15, 2012


I reread this blog the other day for the first time in close to a year. I smiled and laughed, but I also suffered a heavy nostalgia that was probably closer to sadness than anything else. I wrote the blog as I experienced everything; I was inundated daily with newness and excitement and curiosity and those feelings fueled my writing. Norway had a hold on me and I felt that again when I went through all of my old posts; I missed it. But the sadness I felt today is only part of the story. And I thought I’d share what’s happened since my last post for those that are interested.

I haven’t been to Norway since I left in July of 2011. And the reasons why are best explained by starting from my departure from Trondheim. Tonje and I headed back to the United States for a few months at that time primarily for my sister’s wedding, but also to do a bit of sightseeing. I had only seen a small amount of her beautiful country, but she had seen even less of mine. After a few weeks of frivolity surrounding my sister’s nuptials, we packed my car and headed west. We passed through corn country, the great prairies of North Dakota, and the vermillion canyons of eastern Montana. We spent a week of isolation in my uncle’s cabin nestled in the valleys outside of Bozeman and trudged up to the Canadian border to visit old friends. We made a turn south and camped for another week in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and eventually the Grand Canyon. And we capped the trip off with a visit to another wonder of my country, Las Vegas.

Throughout our relationship, we have had too many tearful goodbyes. It’s hard to see someone off at the airport when you know you won’t see them for months; I lost track of how many times we did this. To soften the blow of our separation, we quickly made plans for our next rendezvous shortly after Tonje returned to Norway; this time, the destination was Madrid. We had met many times in cities foreign to both of us to spend a few days together, but something was different about this trip. We tried to laze away afternoons in parks with Cava, jamón ibérico, and cheese, but we could always hear the clock ticking in the back of our minds—a few days together is never enough, and the pain of leaving sneaks in before you even unpack. In part, we were sick of this, but mostly, we just knew that there was nothing left to question. And at some point between meals, somewhere in Madrid, we decided we wanted to marry.

I think the high from this realization carried me for a few months after I returned to the United States. And that was a good thing, because this next stretch apart would be our longest ever. Tonje was off to India for a project and I had to finish the last few months of school. Oh, and I still didn’t have a job. I hadn’t had much luck finding work in Norway; this was mostly because I hadn’t had enough time to achieve fluency in the language, but other factors were at play. And since Tonje would require seven more months to finish her degree, I turned my focus to the United States (with Tonje’s blessing). Before long, I was able to get a job with a company I had worked for in the past. I had maintained strong relationships with the staff and knew that the company’s growth was something that I wanted to be a part of. So I graduated in December, drove over 2,000 miles back home to Virginia and began work.

Shortly after I moved home, I finally got to see Tonje again when she came over for Christmas. This visit was particularly sweet because we hadn’t seen each other for over three months, but also because I hadn’t officially proposed yet. She had hardly passed through the international arrivals gate before I had the ring on her finger. It felt fitting since so much of our relationship had revolved around travel and airports. We spent Christmas together as a newly engaged couple on my grandparents’ farm and began to think about life in the United States.

Months passed in my new job and Tonje came over once more in April for a few weeks before finally moving over for good this past June. We moved into a small cottage in the wine country outside of Charlottesville and got a dog named Oatmeal. We tried to relax and we enjoyed life together, but we had a wedding to plan too. We both wanted a small wedding, but we quickly realized this was futile even when we tried to limit it to close friends only.

In late August, Norwegians, Danes and Swedes invaded my smallish hometown. Up until that point, I felt in some way like I had two separate lives, one in the United States and one in Norway. But for a few precious days, those worlds combined and people that I thought might never meet were sharing homes, stories and food. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to ever surpass the happiness I felt that week. But as amazing as it was, it was over before I could catch my breath. And my reunion with Norway and the people that I associate with it drifted away.

Tonje and I are now getting ready for another Christmas together. This juletid will bring something extra special though in the form of a new home, our first that we’ve purchased together. The house will certainly feel like a mixture of Norway and the United States. We are taking a lot of memories there and we look forward to creating many new ones. And after the busiest year of our lives, we also hope to relax.

And that quick summary completes the story up to now. When I wrote the blog, I had hopes that I would be returning to Norway to live in the near future. Obviously, that did not happen. But we will be back in 2013 for a visit, and I could not be more excited. And although we have a base here for now, we have promised each other that we will live in Norway again at some point. It may be five years from now, or it may be twenty, but we will be back.

Maybe this post has alleviated curiosity for some of you. But, just like the rest of the blog, this one was mostly for me. So much has happened since I last clicked “Publish” that I felt like I had to document some of it; in a sense so that I could show the impact that living in Norway has had on my personal life but also to show that sometimes the best laid plans change. And I think adding this post highlights that good things are worth the wait and physical distance is not the obstacle it once was. A lot can happen in a year and a half, and life can go from quiet to hectic without much warning. But I still go back to Norway in my mind when I need to relax; in these moments I usually go fishing, or occasionally I’ll watch the snow. But I’m always happy. 

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