The time has come for goodbyes. The things I am doing and the people I am seeing will stay in Oslo, and I will move away.
I have been doing pretty well with it up until now. I have been going to old haunts – the petting farm at Ekeberg, the beach on Bygdøy, the park, the shopping haunts in Grunerløkka – and meeting friends for drinks and playdates and lunches. When I do these things, I try to enjoy them fully for what they are and not spend too much time thinking: “this is last time I will be doing this” or “if I do this again I will not be coming from my awesome apartment but a hotel or something.” And my friends have been acting in just the way I want. They have been sad and expressive. One friend who is close but not that close offered her couch to me for whenever I want to come to town – “we will make it work.” I felt loved and wanted – and those are good things to feel!
Then last night I saw a friend of mine whom I don’t see very often, but when I do we have a great time and we have lots in common – especially our parenting styles, which gives me a lot of comfort since I often feel like the odd women out around here. We had a nice evening, with great discussions and a glass of wine and some food. As she walked me a block in my direction, she ended with something like, “Well, have fun in Stavanger and maybe I will see you there someday.” I don’t know why this has overturned all the positive “grieving” I have been doing about leaving Oslo. Suddenly I don’t feel like people are going to miss me at all. I feel like their lives are going on and that person they saw sometimes isn’t gonna be around anymore. It doesn’t feel nice.
I am pretty sure she would like to see me if I am back again. I am also fairly certain she didn’t mean any sort of subtext when she said that – that it is just weird to say goodbye to someone when you really don’t know when you will see her next.
I think what this brought up for me was the feeling that I am the one who is losing in this situation. (Of course, I am winning too, to extend the metaphor – a new house, a set of grandparents nearby, a garden, etc.) Still: the world I have been in will move on without me and I will relocate. I have to start over, and they get to continue seeing their friends, visiting the familiar places and being here – the place I am used to.
The exciting part of moving, of course, is just that: starting again!
When I was studying abroad in college, I had recently broke off my first serious relationship (and started a new one – pffff), and used the opportunity of being around totally new people in a new place to introduce myself as a nickname that I had never used before. I had tried it once in 5th grade on a trip to California – those people still address me as that in cards. You know what? I didn’t like it. I felt like a fake. Sometimes people would say the nickname and I wouldn’t turn around, and there would be this awkward moment where I had to pretend I was spaced out.
I think this is a reminder to me that starting over in a new place doesn’t have to be more meaningful than it already is. I don’t have to change things about myself just because I have the opportunity. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t embrace the change. And none of this means that the friends I have from Oslo will disappear. I have phone, texts, emails, and everything. If I make the effort (and so do they), these friends can still be in my life.