Looking back at our last year I realized how much we have been TRAVELLING. Even though we LIVED in BERLIN before we came to NEW YORK, we were basically always on the MOVE. When we left Berlin I realized that I had never spent more than one and a half/two months there in a row. STILL it was hard leaving because we have a lot of great FRIENDS there, we had a great APARTMENT, and I had finally started to feel that Berlin was kind of my HOME…it takes longer when you're never really there. Even here in NEW YORK we have been traveling a lot. It was difficult deciding on how to prioritize our time here. On one hand we wanted to stay in NY as much as possible, but on the other hand this stay was such a great OPPORTUNITY to get to see other parts of the States. Looking back I think we managed to balance it well. I truly fee that I have now lived in NEW YORK CITY, but at the same time I have been blessed with so many AMAZING experiences travelling around the country.
Our stay here is now coming to an END ..and I am dreading it. In some ways I'm not, because I always knew that it was temporary ..and I have spent my stay here accordingly. Without having the ability to make money and knowing that our visas were only for half a year ..I knew it had to end. Still, I have come to LOVE this city and our FRIENDS here and it will be very sad to leave.
Of all the cities I have traveled to, NEW YORK is the one ..and only ..where I have felt TRULY comfortable and HAPPY, in the kind of 'I could really live here FOREVER' kind of way. The FIRST TIME I came here was in 2003 and I immediately liked the city, already then in this kind of 'this city is so amazing and exciting and different' but at the same time 'it is so easy to understand and I feel so at home here' (recognizing things and finding them APPROACHABLE is an important thing with me, since basically as a rule I always prefer things the second time I experience them to the first). I continued to really like the city as I visited it more, but it was first when I moved here that I came to LOVE it.
I love the people, the walking, the streets, the taxies, the restaurants, the talking to strangers, the weather, the openness, the stores, the light, the streets, the complexity, the tempo, the sports, the fashion, the flexibility, the architecture, the atmosphere ..this list could go on forever. But I guess to me the main testament to my feeling of loving this city is that I really LIKE MYSELF here. It might sound weird, but after traveling a lot and not really having a stable HOME, friends and a job, really a BASE, for a long time ..you realize to a higher degree how external things affect you and how they make you feel about yourself. And this CITY and it's PEOPLE makes me feel GOOD, seen and appreciated ..and it is truly, for me at least, a gift to experience that feeling.
Many of my Norwegian friends find the American FRIENDLINESS/OPENNESS weird and uncomfortable, but I LOVE IT. Americans also often talk LOUDER ..and MORE than Norwegians …and Germans for that matter …and I really appreciate that too. Just realized that a lot of you that follow this blog have never met me in person ..and therefor do not know that I TALK… A LOT ! Many people might think that people who like to talk always love to speak to really shy/ non-talkative people because then they can hear their own voices all the time, ..but in my case it's often the opposite. I enjoy talking to other talkative people …because then I don't feel like a VERBAL STEAMROLLER all the time. Mostly when I'm talking a lot it's just that I'm enjoying myself; the more comfortable I feel around people the more chatty I get. Still, in the same way that shy people can come home from a dinner party feeling bad about not saying 'enough' (by the way, I always come home thinking about such people as really COOL and POISED) I often go home feeling bad about talking all the time ...and saying kind of inappropriate things. This can be a problem since I am a very OPEN person and I feel that almost anything is ok to talk about ...and sometimes the more inappropriate things are the more interesting. I just find CONVERSATION very interesting.
So because of this I've always been told that, in some ways, I have a very un Norwegian nature. At the same time I come from a city in Norway; BERGEN, that has always been described as 'a little piece of Spain' in Norway…and we are known for speaking LOUDER than all other Norwegians… and talking about ourselves a lot… and we are also always right. Writing this reminds me of a great STORY my DAD used to tell me and my sister when we were kids. My dad is not from Bergen, so he told it to make fun of BERGEN ...and probably a little bit to warn us about becoming cliche Bergen characters. The story takes place at a FISH MARKET. A man visiting the market suddenly hears a lot of NOISE from one of the FISH TANKS and goes over to check it out. Looking down into the tank he sees a lot of LOBSTERS ..going on about their life in a quiet and peaceful manner, but then in one of the corners he spots a tiny little SHRIMP banging his feats and arms (I don't really know if there is a difference between arms and legs on shrimp, anyway..) on his little chest like a GORILLA shouting -in my dialect of course- I AM A LOBSTER, I AM A LOBSTER ("Eg e en hommar, Eg e en hommar!")) I've always loved this story, partly because I always loved our dad's stories, but also because there's some truth to it. Even though I have never felt like this shrimp, I am kind of a typical 'Bergenser' in some ways. Still there is a gigantic cultural difference between the US and Norway, and that difference makes me feel in some ways more at home and comfortable here than I have ever felt anywhere before in my life.
People has often asked me since I came here WHAT I LIKE THE MOST about living in New York, I have often answered just being here; walking the streets, looking at people, experiencing the atmosphere of the city, but it's first know writing this text that I realize that a big part of why that is my favorite thing, has to do with the fact that that I am so comfortable in my own SKIN in this city. Even though a lot of things I find hard in my life; not having stability or routines, not enough work and not knowing what waits for me around the next corner, has not changed for the better since I came here, I have felt so much more comfortable and HAPPY here than I did in Berlin. Of course it's partly a language thing, I speak English fluently and I did not do that with German, still it's also just the city and it's people making me feel SAFE, but also challenged, CALM, and eager to do things, making me like who I am. After spending time here I see that there is truly a reason why so many people from different nations and cultures love to call this city their HOME.
But yes, so we are leaving, but its not only a bad thing ...because well ...since I am married to Erlend we have new ADVENTURES waiting for us in the new year too. First we were thinking about going straight to ARGENTINA from NY, but that turned out not to be possible because of E's work; he needs to stop by Norway regularly because of a current project he is working on. Then we were thinking about THAILAND ..but after a lot of back and forth we decided to concentrate our travels on Europe. And even though the other alternatives might be WARMER, more EXOTIC and EXCITING I'm glad we made the choice we did. Traveling all the time is beautiful and amazing in many ways …but I also miss the familiar. Compared to Thailand traveling in Europe is closer to home, in both DISTANCE, LANGUAGE and CULTURE ..and to be honest, I think I need that. Traveling to far away unfamiliar places can be magnificent, but when traveling becomes your every day life, at least for me, it feels good to keep it a little more close to home. That said; EUROPE can be pretty amazing and we are traveling to some really beautiful and interesting places; JEREZ and SEVILLA in Spain, NAPLES, LIPARI and SICILY in Italy ...and to BEAUNE in France.. But first we are going home to NORWAY and then to BERLIN to say hi to loved ones. That's the one BEAUTIFUL thing about having your FRIENDS in different cities and countries, when you leave some, it means that you get to see others you have missed.
And yes, I know the picture on top of the post might look a little bit too serious and posy for the content of this post...but it was of me ...and New York ...and I kind of like the dramatic atmosphere;)