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Longing Home

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Moving to Norway, first of all, was driven by the need for change. Winston and I were ready to change our routines and try something new for a while. But if I am totally honest with myself, it might also have been driven by a tiny bit of homesickness on my part. I had never lived on this island before, but it is not too far from my hometown Mosjøen. It had been 20 years since I left my hometown. When I did, like any teenager, I did it with a light heart, full of eagerness to explore other cities and other countries.

I have been quite happy moving around for the last 20 years. But after living in something like eight different cities on three different continents, it feels good to be back. It feels familiar. The people, the climate, the mountains, the food, and the culture all remind me of my childhood in the northern part of Norway.

In 2001 I moved to the US to live with my husband. I left Norway thinking that we would return within two years. There were many reasons why we didn’t, the biggest one being that I quickly adapted to my new life and fell in love with my new country. I might have missed Norway once in a while, but I never seriously considered moving back. But here we are.

Our Home in Arlington

For some reason I woke up one morning last week missing my close friends in the US, so much that it brought tears into my eyes. It made me think about our life in Arlington and our home. There is no obvious reason for this sudden attack of homesickness. It might be that I for so long have been focusing on the move, and not so much the things we left behind. We have now reached a point when life on Rødøy very much feels like everyday living. Like home. Not everything is new and exciting any more, and with three weeks of rain behind us (and probably another eight ahead) there has been plenty of time to reflect.

I am grateful that we have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be here. And the change has been good. When we leave here, I’ll be sad to say goodbye to this home, and glad to be heading back to our home in the US. I guess I should be used to this feeling of homesickness and feeling at home at the same time. This is the price one has to pay for moving around the world. There is no such a thing as one place to call home.

14 Comments
  1. Hi Kristin (nice to meet you) & Winston (whom I already know)!

    …Another blog post that is articulate, introspective, and evocative. That’s why I look forward to learning about what your family is doing – and thinking – during your adventure in Rodoy.

    I was just musing about how much I enjoy reading this blog, and it occurred to me that it provides the same kind of vicarious satisfaction for me that I derived years ago from reading the books of Frances Mayes (“Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Bella Tuscany,” etc.). I’m not enough of a risk-taker to drop everything and make a bold move to a distant land and culture, but I’m very intrigued by the concept of doing so. Reading about the exploits of folks who are braver than I am is a way of (sort of) experiencing the thrill of adventure, without taking any of the risks.

    Looking forward to many more wonderful blog posts to come!

    ~Carol

    October 23, 2011
    • Hi Carol!

      Nice to meet you too:)

      I am glad that you like our blog! We are very happy about our little adventure, and it has been good sharing some of our thoughts here.

      Best,
      Kristin

      October 25, 2011
  2. Kirrily #

    Having lived in both Uk and US while growing up, I completely understand the feeling of missing home while being home. There is no where that I feel I am clearly ‘from’ but I feel quite comfortable in a number of different places. Now for me, home is where family (our own and our extended) and I only wish that all of our families lived in the same place. But then I would find it really hard to take our little family to live in UK or US again where cousins and aunts and uncles all live. So we spend our time here being home-sick while loving our home here…

    October 24, 2011
    • Hi Kirrily!

      It has been a long time since we met in London. Hope our paths will cross again one day:) Thanks for following our year in the arctic via our blog. And thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Best,
      Kristin

      October 25, 2011
  3. I love following you and your husband’s blog! I was just in Virginia visiting family. Fall is in full force and the leaves are turning. I think it would be fabulous to live in Norway. It reminds me a lot of Minnesota where I’m from and we have a ton of Norwegian-heritage Minnesotans living here. We just welcomed the King and Queen of Norway a few weeks back.

    October 24, 2011
    • I am glad you like our blog:)

      Life in Norway is great. I guess people here in many ways are similar to the people in Minnesota. At least we have a thing or two in common, like the way we say “ja” and the cold weather:)

      October 25, 2011
  4. Great post, Kristin. Did I tell you I moved back to Bergen about 10 years ago (after having spent 10 years in the US)? As you know, I did not end up staying. I found that some things were wonderful (nature, sea, mountains, boats, trains, “coffee culture”, people’s curiosity about the world). But in other ways it felt like a huge step back in time, like I had to confront issues from teenage years that I had long moved past. Hard to explain stuff like identity. Who was I? And was that the same person that other people saw when they were looking at me and talking to me?

    Anyway, best of luck on your “journey”. I emailed this to a Norwegian friend who also just moved back (from 10+ years in Minnesota), and he’s going through similar issues. It’s hard. And there are no simple answers. I think on some level it boils down to coming to terms with what you want to focus on and spend time on for the rest of your life. If you see yourself on a fishing boat or hiking up a mountain every day then nothing beats Norway. For me, an interesting career matters a lot and Boston is good for software. But it’s taken me a long time to arrive at that conclusion (and it may change).

    One interesting thing about our emotional memories is that they are often centered around brief moments. First love, standing at the peak of a mountain top after a great hike, that wonderful day at sea when it was hot and sunny. The thrill of your first week in college. The “Russatid” in high school.

    But our future happiness is determined not so much (imho) by such moments as it is by our future everyday life. How long do you spend on your commute? Do you have daily or at least weekly interaction with friends who understand you and relate to you? What about the people around you at work? I think these are the factors that ultimately matter the most in our lives.

    Thanks again for this post, I’m going to catch up on your older posts now!

    Mads

    October 24, 2011
    • Hi Mads!

      You are bringing up many deep issues. Moving back to Norway after ten years away is not an easy thing to do. I know I have changed, and I guess in some ways I have become quite Americanized. Many things have changed in Norway too, and it seems harder to deal with things that I don’t know here than the difficulties I face when I move to a new country for the first time…

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      I look forward to catching up with you and your family when we return next year.

      Best,
      Kristin

      October 25, 2011
  5. KB! I loved this. So happy to “see” you on the blog, too. I’ve been having many of the same thoughts lately about home and what it means when there is not one obvious place to associate with it anymore. You capture it all so well. And I must say, seeing that pic of your Arlington living room made me nostalgic! I miss you, our Arlington days, and the whole BC clan. Hugs to everyone and keep the posts coming.

    Love,
    paige

    October 26, 2011
  6. Dear Paige!
    Thanks for your comment:)
    Although Paris life and arctic island life are very different, I guess moving to a new place puts us through many of the same emotions. If you live your whole life in one place, defining “home” isn’t a big issue, but for me it has been one of those things that I had to define and redefine many times over the past 20 years.
    I miss you too!
    Lots of love,
    Kristin

    October 26, 2011
  7. A lovely post. I can totally relate. After almost 10 months here in Australia, we have only 3 months left until we pack up and head back to Canada. So now my feelings of homesickness for Canada are turning into mourning for what we’ll be leaving in Oz. Weird. I guess the notion of “home” isn’t as permanent as I once thought. Thanks for sharing.

    October 27, 2011
    • Many years ago I spent one year in Hong Kong. Towards the end of my stay I dealt with the same feelings as the ones you describe above.
      Thanks for your comment:)

      November 6, 2011
  8. Trine #

    Interesting to read Kristin! (so much, that your Norwegian friend is leave a comment in English… you better be proud of yourself:))

    I think, and maybe I’m wrong, that it takes time to feel at home.. One year is not a long time..
    I lived eight years away from Mosjøen, and I was very young when I left. I thought it would be easy and great to move back when I decide to do that… but it wasn’t. Friends had moved to other places and things was changed in many ways. I had to build up a new group of friends, and over years I did. It took time, but in the end I think the most important thing is that we are among people we love, and who love us…

    When I lived eight years away, I got many friends who now are living in Oslo, Bergen, Telemark, Tromsø… you name it. I miss them…. but I can just take a plane and after an hour or two I meet them. (Ups “meet” is maybe the word for the cow I am eating for dinner on Saturday evenings..) For you it’s more difficult, and it is a long trip to US… So I understand that our lives is not similar, but I only thought I would cheer you up, and say that it takes time to build a new life, with new and old friends…like me:)

    HAPPINESS IS NOT A DESTINATION IT IS A WAY OF LIFE…and the life you are building depends of good friends, good relation to the people around you at work, neighbors, family and that you live at a nice place for your children to grow up.
    My English is very very very VERY bad, and I feel that I’m not very clever to express me self in this language, but you must give me credit for trying;)

    Lots of hugs, Trine

    October 27, 2011
    • Hi Trine!

      Thank you for your very long comment, and sorry that it took me so long to respond.
      First, your english is great and I give you all kinds of credit for writing this piece in your second language:)

      Next, thank you for sharing your experience. I agree that building a new life takes a long time. I love the sentence “HAPPINESS IS NOT A DESTINATION IT IS A WAY OF LIFE”. So true! It is possible to be happy or miserable anywhere.

      Big hug back to you,
      Kristin

      November 3, 2011

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