I am late again on the next Local piece (I interviewed someone who works in a museum!) I haven’t finished writing it because I started doing a lot of work, and consuming most of my days with its tasks, along with moving places twice.
I’ve been overseas for almost eight weeks, with seven of those spent in Norway. Only, in that time, I didn’t end up going to Lofoten as I would have liked, or Bergen as I had planned. It got too expensive and I have been erring on the side of caution money-wise. Now I’m at the airport about to head to Alicante, Spain, and I feel oddly as though I am about to enter ‘holiday mode’, feeling that I haven’t been ‘in it’ (along with an awareness for how obsurd that may sound).
But now, I’m not sure if I really ever began this journey to be on holidays. I’m exploring a lot in places I’ve never been, nonetheless, but I haven’t done the backpacker thing this time – hauling that ever-trusty bag of mine from place to place twice a week, collapsing on another hostel bed after beers with strangers. Nope, that ship sailed a while back, and I gladly accept it.
But, still yet to see much of the Norwegian wildnerness (having only touched on a small but very exquisite part of it so far), one might think I’d be disappointed in my travel choices this time round. That one being me.
But really, many of the most special times have come from the simple things: mundanities, oddities, dare I say, domesticities. And of course the timing of it all has been perfect. There isn’t an ounce of disappointment.
I would like to share some of the ‘bigger’ moments, but for now, my mind is all caught up and easing – like a sun-soaked afternoon – into the smaller moments of joy I’ve had recently – some of which I know I wouldn’t have experienced if I didn’t leave home. And so, perhaps in these moments I have found ‘holiday mode’ after all. The ability to let one’s guard down and make room for the simple pleasures that so often pass us by unnoticed.
How wonderful it is to have time in the mornings to enjoy the coffee-making process. Three scoops of freshly-ground beans into the plunger, and then waiting for it to brew as you prepare breakfast – perhaps some soft-boiled eggs.
My ritual here has changed. No longer is the habit of buying an almond latte with work colleagues each morning a thing.
I have come to relish the stronger taste of homemade black coffee, and can’t imagine why a latte ever tasted so good. Of course, it’s partly the slow routine itself that I enjoy.
The night sky.
I can only speak for the summertime sky for now, but the colours tend to lull me into daydreams each night. Pinks, purples, oranges, blues, whipped with lashings of creamy cloud.
Walking almost everywhere.
Exploring on foot is generally the way I enjoy new places best. And no matter where you’re walking to, or how far, it’s likely you’ll be graced with a park or two, teeming with summer flowers.
So gentle to the ear.
Diving into the Norwegian sea has made me nervous more than once. The colour is a deep, dark green, and so wide open, unable to see to the bottom, my mind conjures up images of non-existent sharks and whales right by the shoreline. I think back to my childhood, swimming in rivers and lakes and the ocean of the Northern Territory, and the warning to be cautious in open water because there may be crocodiles.
Nevertheless, each time I jump in it’s so refreshing if the day is warm, and I’ve been lucky to have many very warm days.
On my last morning in Oslo, I made a deal with myself to dive into the sea at Aker Brygge without hesitation, and to float for ten breaths without fearing the unknown below. This was undoubtedly a metaphor for my headpace in general. Staring into the noon sky, sharp breaths on account of the chill, I was able to succumb to the unknowns below, and the ones ahead of me.
Norwegian cheese (and the trusty slicer).
The mildness of the cheese, coupled with the ease of the slicer – delicious genius!
Reading and writing more.
I have ‘having more time’ to thank for these pleasures. Often made even more delectable under the shade of a tree, or by a window with golden afternoon light and a cup of chai.
And then, in the many pauses or times of solitude I’ve had…
…like those times brewing coffee, wandering to an undiscovered location, or in between devouring scrumptious passages of a book, there is the soft, steady realisation that I love someone who loves me in return.
Or the slow understanding that Oslo feels like a place I could (and would like to) call home for a while.
And the clarity of mind and body that one has (often all too briefly) to comfortably exist all at once in the present; emboldened and most certainly alive.