Archive for June 2010
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
Ernest Hemingway, ‘A Moveable Feast’
The sun is shining and the wind is almost warm. The turquoise water lapping the shore outside my window brings back images of Croatia and Italy. But I’m not there. I am here, in Northern Norway, by the Arctic Circle.
Why is it that once you get what you want, you start longing for something else?
I must admit it has been hard to see pictures of friends and family, enjoying the beautiful Swedish summer, not to mention the reports from my friends down in Cape Town. We’ve tried to have the games on at work but because Norway didn’t buy the rights to show the games on TV we have to play it through a computer and with their terrible internet connection it gets cut and delayed all the time. Our chefs are English and when England was playing the other night we had it on in the kitchen.
Coming in to leave my orders when the image of my beloved Cape Town was right in front of my eyes, almost hurt.
Signal Hill where we had our sundowner’s picnics. Sea Point where we took brisk winter walks. The backdrop of the Twelve Apostles that watched over us while we lay on the sand of Camps Bay, on lazy days. I miss it all so much!
But time moves on doesn’t it?
And this place is beautiful too. It’s just that it’s not about the place. It’s about the frame of mind. The people and the atmosphere. The things you can’t pin point, only feel.
And unfortunately I haven’t felt this place. At least not my work place. That is why I made the decision not to stay throughout the contract.
I resigned this morning.
I work until the first of August. Another month. But believe me, I feel so much better now and so much more like ME.
Don’t let them ruin your sensitive side, Maria said.
I’ll smile and face the sun today, remembering that someone once told me that I was a moveable feast, like Hemingway’s Paris.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for all of Paris is a moveable feast”
I had just written this:
Another week has passed by.
With showers of rain, mist, a few glimpses of sunshine.
That could be said about my thoughts too.
I have been ready to resign from this job at least three times a day.
I have felt completely lost in a haze of doubt and questions about my choices and options.
But I have also tried to look at the bright side of things:
- All the fresh, ice-cold water you can drink, right on tap?
- Two wonderful people living under my roof, the blessings of new friendship?
- The experience of living, learning (hard way or not) about myself and others?
Yes, so this job is not what I had expected and it has to do with the management.
Their personal issues affect the attitude of their staff and create a negative feeling within the walls.
There are too many details that I won’t go into now, but basically I’ve gotten yelled at every day.
For things I didn’t know I could possibly do wrong.
(one of the cleaning ladies said it right:
“Helen, don’t worry. Had you done it the other way it would have been wrong anyway”)
A decision needs to be made within the next couple of days.
Stay or Leave?
When I received this:
Actually, Helen, it’s easier to accept others, than to change them.
It’s wiser to understand them, than to get angry.
And most of the time, it’s more fun to love ‘em, than to leave ‘em.
Coincidence or not, the power of the Universe works in various ways!
My friend Andreas stayed for four days. Poor guy came with a bunch of beers and were hoping to have fun. We were three girls, tired from work, complaining about the job and trying to decide what to do with our lives. There was no internet or TV in the house so he couldn’t watch the World Cup and it has been raining the whole time so he couldn’t do much outside either.
We talked, made meatballs and listened to bad radio but basically, in a house like this, you kinda get on each other’s nerves after a while. One night he asked (in a Chuck Klosterman kind of way)
- You were sent to a deserted island. Would you bring a friend or Facebook?
- A friend of course, I answered.
- Would you bring me, or Facebook?
But I’m glad he came after all and shook things up in the house a bit.
Sunday night, Maria came up from Kabelvåg, in the middle of Lofoten, where she works. She is one of my best friends and I love the idea of how we share these crazy things and views on life.
She always brings sunshine and so she did that night as well – through the scattered rain.
That night, we made chickpeas and curry stew, played cards and talked and laughed again. The attitude around here has just been way too serious lately because of the disappointment on the job.
I mean, it’s not all bad and maybe it will even get better. I don’t know. It could also get worse.
But on Saturday night, because of the Swedish crown princess’ wedding and because Johanna had made the coolest Swedish sandwich cake and with Midsummer approaching, they put the outdoor hot pool on for us. It was so hot we had to run down to the shore line for a dip in the brain freezing cold Norwegian Sea.
Makes you feel you’re alive.
Today is Tuesday and I am off work and online. Looking up alternatives what to do, where to go, and trying to make some sense out of it all.
That is, an ordinary day in my life
I think I’m having a heart attack, she said, but it’s dragging on for hours. I told her not to worry. That’s how most people who work a full day feel, I said.
Soon, the new chef will come to live with us too. Saves money on rent but perhaps a little tight on personal space.
The house was abandoned or someone died, I don’t know. The door sign with an elder couple’s name still hangs by the porch and the furniture in the living room is untouched, like an old fifties museum. You can almost sense the presence of the people that used to live here. The countless hours they sat in silence looking out the window, at cars passing by. The sound of the coffee pot on the stove.
But now it’s us three “jenter” and the table cloths have been removed, the porcelain cups have been filled with exotic spices and in the window a basil plant is growing next to a promising avocado seed.
It is peaceful here if you ignore the sound of car mobiles passing by or the chimes from flocks of sheep early in the morning. My bed is small and hard and the bright light in my bedroom is the same at midnight as it is at noon, hence why I don’t sleep much.
We take borrowed bikes to work. Bikes that either has a steering wheel too low, a saddle too high or squeaky brakes, but it only takes fifteen minutes to the centre so we manage.
When we first moved in we checked that there was hot water in the shower. There was. Steaming hot. We didn’t check for cold water. Apparently that bolt is broken. We shower at the camp site until it’s been fixed.
We don’t have internet access in the house and we are still unsure whether it is worth the cost of a mobile connection for just two months.
Until then, we drink our tea and talk without computers running.
We hope it will help us connect to nature better.
Maja seems to be in the right element already. First day she went out and picked herbs on the lawn for tea, made roasted seed musli and bought flour to bake bread.
Johanna is sweet. First day she and I went for a walk. I had already been here working for 10 days and I couldn’t wait to vent all my thoughts about this job. I feel like I SUCK, I declared. She stopped, but her hand on mine and looked me in the eyes and said: You do NOT suck!! And I knew we would be friends. She is funny too. She puts carrots and peas in her porridge.
I joked and said it could be our peace sign salute – peas and porridge!
A friend of mine from Stockholm, Andreas, is here to stay with me for a couple of days or whatever his plan is – couch surfing and hitch hiking around Lofoten. He lives in Aspudden and does his daily shopping at my old supermarket so it’s like a little breeze from home that has found its way here. Makes even the rainy days seem brighter.
Thanks for reading!
Days drift like clouds over the snow sprinkled mountains.
Ceaselessly, swiftly, aimlessly.
My thoughts are just as capricious. They grow from little streaks of white to heavy gathering chunks of grey. Once in a while rays of sunlight break through and shine on me, reminding me of why and how and when and who.
Right here, right now.
Oh, how I wish I could allow myself to live even more! But the restrictions of work, of things that need to be done and things that need to be repeated and remembered until they completely lose their meaning and become rain clouds that long to burst.
I nod and smile and make mental notes. To put the plates more to the right, or add a number of guests to the cabins. I issue fishing permits when really I wish I could be the one, alone there by the lake.
I want to live timelessly but here, everything needs to be planned.
It creeps under my skin. I feel unfocused and uninspired but I try to keep a clear head; I’ll have to save the emotions for later.
And hope the weather will have changed by then.
World Cup 2010!
I seriously don’t know WHY?? I’m not there when so many of my best friends live there and so much of my heart beats for that city!!!
It doesn’t make it easier when I get rapports about how cool and cookin’ the vibe is right now…
While I’m stuck here in the North. But what can I say?
Let the games begin and may Long Street rock!!