This is one very natural question I get from my friends. I would ask it too. “Do you miss Oslo?” And it would be more polite to answer that yes, of course, I miss some parts, but how can be I honest then? If my sincere reaction is: “Miss what? Snow, icy sidewalks, that long dark period of year called winter? Empty streets, lonely evenings, gray skies and gray faces?” Well, it is different for everyone, but this is the first thought that comes to MY mind. So nope, I don’t miss it, I just can’t :))
In the end, it is all not about finding the perfect place – since it doesn’t exist. But to find the place that is right for you. Your place under the sun. There are people who would love the introverted culture of Norway, who miss this chance to spend long days and weeks alone, without anyone asking them a question. I just don’t happen to be that person. So I am not able to appreciate it either. I am more of the Southern soul, who loves a spontaneous dinner date, a chat with the the neighbor and the cashier man in supermarket. So I found my right place. Even after some weeks here I felt more at home than after years in Norway. There is nothing right or wrong with any of these places. It is just that some are more like you, and some are less.
So often when we talk about a country or a culture, it seems that we compare it with another one and come to conclusion that sums up to: “I’ll stick with this one, no matter what” – or “No, thanks, I’ll go for another one”. It sounds like we choose all the time. But why choose only one? Can we take (and make) both?
I have noticed that my life comprises mostly of the people who come “from here and there and a bit of everywhere”. There are few (or none) 100% Norwegians, or 100% Ukrainians, or other pure nationalities in my life. Maybe, because that’s my natural tribe, reflecting my life choices. I am not amazed, for example, that I, born Ukrainian, communicate with my native Catalan husband in Norwegian language, not native to either of us. It once suprized a couple of Norwegians though.
I can understand them, they didn’t expect to hear the language of their little proud country in some tapas bar in Barcelona somewhere around midnight. Especially coming with heavy Spanish accent and sweet Eastern-European accent, used to discuss a love relationship between those two. Why Norwegian?? They seemed to be falling from their chairs, breaking their backs to turn and see who these two were, using their language in this place.
It is interesting, how we talk about a thing, using the same word – but we have different meanings behind it. And still we think that we are talking about one and the same thing! Take October, for example.
I say October and we think about different things, maybe. Some say, pumpkins and Halloween, some say, rains and hygge. Somewhere in the Mediterranean they still go to the beach in October. While here, in Norway, it feels like a Barcelonian winter: chilly and wet.
October has arrived and I definitely feel it. There is no slight glide like between August and September. When it is still all late summer/early autumn, with blurry borders like the tree shadows in the morning light. October is more distinct. It is getting dark around 8pm and we all know for sure: winter is coming, and darkness is coming. It is getting cold, and we pull out our warm jackets and solid scarfs. There is no more wardrobe flirting that September does: one day – light leather jacket, another – no jacket at all. October doesn’t fool around. Jackets and coats, please.
Want a quick recipe for life? If you feel bored in one place – move. If you want to discover how amazing your place can be – move. If you want to start noticing again all the beauty of your old place – move.
Since we started moving plans for real, Oslo has become so amazing to me. I can just walk without my headphones now, listening to the people talking, to the singing notes of everyday Norwegian. Listening to the fountains and dogs barking. Noticing all the small things that make this place beautiful. Lights in the dark autumn evening. Hipster shop signs. Friends smiling to each other. City bikes. Blue trams. Bars and cafes of my neighborhood.
The more I realize that moving is for real, the more I come to see the things I will miss. I think so. But there is one thing I will not miss. Or will I?
Some weeks ago we were walking through the woods – and I suddenly got the flashback of my adolescence. We were visiting friends outside of Oslo and took a walk to the beach. Through the woods which went up and down, with a little river and a bridge over it. This spot brought a vivid memory of a similar place in other woods – in the village where my grandmother lived. I walked there, some 14 years old, and that place seemed just charming to me. Why? Because I thought, it would look perfect in the photo. At that time my pictures could be taken by the old black-and-white analog camera, difficult in use. Why did I want those photos? Passion for photography at such a young age?
No, it was not the passion for art. It was a wish to show something to my classmates. And how did I get inspired? So, there was this popular girl in our class, Irina, and in the back of her day-book (an obligatory book where we noted our schedule, homework and the teacher put our marks into it) she had some chocolate wrapping papers and photos. Yes, we were showing each other the papers of sweets we ate. Asking each other: “Did you try Mars? Did you try Snickers?”
We have engaged ourselves in the time and energy consuming project: selling our flat. Who has been through this once? Raise up your hand 🙂 We just have started and already Carles, my man, is sighing with exhaustion: “Cannot we just sell it just the way it is? Like in Spain?”
In Spain they seem to make little fuss out of selling a property. Wherever we go, we always stop by the property agencies and study the announcements that hang in their windows. So it seems that in Spain they just walk into a flat, just as it is, take some photos (with the bad mobile camera) – often dark, full of messy details, clothes hanging to dry, dishes in the sink and all – and paste them into their announcement.
After Norwegian experience of buying/selling a flat, this attitude makes us laugh. Lousy photos, the process of selling can take up a year, series of of visitors over time coming to see the flat. Those visits quite unfussy too, the owners show the place just as it is, without fixing it or hiding the clutter. The method, almost opposite to the Norwegian way. So how do they do it in Norway?
Where to find summer in the city? There are parks and botanical gardens, there are promenades by the sea and walks along the river. Some cities have beaches, some have lakes. Oslo is lucky to have both: lakes, beaches and the waterfront by the fjord. But I want to share with you my secret place, the hidden jewel of this city – kolonihage, i.e. colonial garden.
There are several of them around Oslo, well hidden and not visited by others than their users. I have discovered two and am totally swept by this idea. One kolonihage lies not far from my home and this spring I went there on the photo hunt. It was during the long weekend in late May when many left the city, and so it was quite and peaceful. The weather was warm and friendly, and made it perfect for tranquil walks around the gardens. Join me on this tour of early summer idyll!