Life goes on. Leaving your friends, family and life behind for any kind of period does not mean they'll wait for your return with baited breath. They move on. They have lives. The country changes. At first that seems like a bad thing, but I'm not so sure.
One thing is for certain; nothing stays the same. When I returned to Oslo a few months ago after a self-imposed 4 year exile (which I honestly thought was going to last much much longer) I felt I had landed on a different planet. Still in a jet-lagged haze I wandered the streets of my birth city, not recognizing the place. Oslo was bigger, yet all buildings were smaller. It was a weird feeling.
It wasn't until I went into my beloved woods that I felt more at home, more at ease with the country I had left for those years. It's very strange, though, how your perception of life, universe and everything changes with a bit perspective in ones life. Learning the ropes of the alien world of Australia made me come home with a mixed bag of feelings, especially perhaps a lesson in what "alien" really means.
Some things are good here in Norway; the people, some foods, the woods, nature, real mountains, a beautiful language, public transport that works, loppemarked, a feeling of being closer to the world, political respect and the natural nurtured meaningful discussion with total strangers, and the living communities.
Some things are bad here; the way we treat foreigners, the beuorocracy, the price of everything, the lack of my wifes' crazy but much loved family and our wonderful Australian friends, lack of recycling, Vinmonopolet, the price of meats (not that we're big on meats, though) and veggies, and that it's harder to shop.
There's lots of contrast between our worlds, contrasts that makes you pay attention to what is important and what is not. And what's important? Family, friends and our happiness. And that is not governed by our opinions on big or small things; they are governed by our own mental ability to be happy with the best of what we've got right now.
We miss Australia very much, both the country and its people (except John Howard and his cronies; we don't miss them), and we know that our time in Norway is limited. We'll see you again shortly, we just need to wrap our heads around this Norwegian crazy first and then we'll be back.
Some of my Australian friends will probably wonder who paid me to say that I miss Australia, and some of my non-Australian friends will wonder who's threatening me to say good things about that place. I mean, unless I talk about the beach and cheap beer, what else is it with Australia worth fighting over? Or Norway, for that matter?
The people. The friendship. The food (although not Vegemite, nor lutefisk) and the drink. The sea, the woods, the sun, the moon, and the surf or turf. Every ingredient any good travel agency could whip up; it's right there, and you can fold your life around it if you plan for it. A beach in Australia is a svaberg in Norway. A beer in Norway is a good imported beer in Australia. The friends in Australia are friends in Norway; there's nice people no matter where you go. And there's family or adopted family in both parts. And, most importantly, life lessons.
It's so easy to accept life as it comes, judging your life based on what you got handed to you instead of what you went to grab yourself. But I needed to learn to grab things that makes sense to the life I wanted, and I can do this in Norway too, or in South-Africa, or Indonesia, or England, or ... It doesn't matter where you are; you can find your travel agency keywords, fold them into a brochure you'd like to read, and live that life. For far too long I've lived life as handed to me. Now I'm living life as I'm grabbing it. By the lapels. See you soon enough, wherever we go.
Ok, just a rambling note on a Friday afternoon. I'm now going to go home and have sausages with my lovely family, and enjoy the warm sun, the shiny waters, and the fertile woods. Have a nice weekend!