On Foreign Soil
Posted on June 18, 2012
Eight years ago:
24 or so hours later:
I stood there in shorts, a golf shirt, and flip-flops dumb founded.
Jet lagged, holding a baby on my hip like a sack of potatoes as a preschooler and a 2nd grader clung to my legs and made standing a challenge.
I was feeling as if I had just been smacked in the head with a snowball.
It was a cold day in June, and all my winter clothes were in one of two 44 ft containers floating somewhere in the Atlantic. This Florida girl had NO IDEA a summer morning could be in the 30s.
Thank goodness I had brought all of the children´s clothes!
Seventeen years prior, when Dream Baby proposed, he amended the proposal with,
`You can live in Norway can´t you?´
“Of course!” I answered.
I had never been to Norway.
In fact, I had never been outside the states.
The thought, a scene from a Disney animation, sounded like an adventure.
It would be fun and exciting!
But I didn´t really believe the day would come that we would move out of the country.
After all we were living the American Dream, perfectly happy right where we were.
My father-in-law´s Parkinson’s diagnosis prompted Dream Baby and I to purchase a property in Lillehammer, his home town, site unseen. That´s after living happily in the states for nineteen years.
The first time I saw our new home was four months prior to moving when we traveled over to sign the closing papers. The blanket of snow, and leafless trees were a bit deceiving.
Our new home was built in the 1800s, had not been renovated since the early seventies, and had spent most of modern time rented out to college students.
It had an earth cellar that I was certain contained dead people.
There was a separate garage barely big enough for a lawn mower, much less anything I have ever driven, and the property was smack in the middle of this cultured, yet sleepy little town of 27,000 people.
Standing there looking at it for the second time, across a field of gravel and through a forest of trees, I wanted to cry, but didn´t dare.
I cut my eyes to Dream Baby and he snickered as he said, `Trust me, you are going to love it here.´
I responded as a train went by, `Yes! It´s getting more charming by the second.´
We walked inside.
There were cork floors, some of which had been painted with dark green paint.
One room had old hardwood floors and an original fireplace,
the bedrooms had wall to wall carpet.
Did I mention the ceiling tiles?
Did you notice the ventilation system to the right of the window above?
Every room of the tiny house was a completely different color.
The kitchen was two-toned.
I felt as though I had ingested too much coffee.
It was a case of traditional Norwegian design gone psychedelically bad.
Someone named Berit had scribbled her name childlike all over the walls.
Numbness began to overtake my brain as I noticed the white kitchen appliances yellowed from years of cigarette smoke.
I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew.
The two bedroom, one and a half bathroom house had seven sinks.
Ok, so the five of us would not be fighting over where to brush our teeth.
I heard Dream Baby asking the seller, `Have you really parked a car in that garage?´
I made my way upstairs and walked out onto a tiny balcony off the smallest bedroom,
and through a forest of ancient birch, spruce, and apple trees I found relief.
A slight hint of a water view.
Dream Baby walked up behind me and with a hug said, `Those trees will be gone tomorrow.´
I scanned the perimeter of of the half acre yard and counted seven houses adjoining the property, and couldn´t help but wonder which neighbor would be most pissed off.
Stay tuned for Meeting the Neighbors……..