Having lived in Oslo, Norway before, and then to have returned, though only for a small period (during which one’s attempts failed for longer-term work via career advancement), to thus have to leave for a second time, creates an opportunity to describe one person’s experience of international moving, alone, and only for work. Consider this, perhaps, as a topic in a class on “Immigration 101”, subtopic academia, subtopic science, subtopic research.
Leaving, again? It is easier the second time.
However, remnants of the first departure are dredged up, even if this also provides experience. It is harder than leaving the other countries, not that those were easy, but less time was spent at them; those felt like leaving places one has become well acquainted with. After at least a couple years’ time somewhere, however, leaving a country feels more like ending a relationship.
I think it might be goodbye this time, Oslo.
Can you say, < That I am disappointed is actually not negative; it means I had expectations unmet, but in so, it also means that I had hope, and if that was involved, so were positive feelings of you, Oslo.>, as a departure to a city and a country? You had hoped for funding, for advancement up the career ladder, even at least a single rung.
Can you say, < I will miss that I understand your language, and the process of learning more of it, day by day, word by word. >, to a place that will not let you live there, and not feel embarrassed for taking so much of your time and effort to learn the language?
Can you say, < I don’t want to go back. But I don’t see that I could stay here either. >, and expect anyone to understand?
Can you ask, < It is strange, because while I first had hope, then I became angry, other times trying so hard for acceptance, and I missed you terribly when I was away, so much, yet I always felt separate when here. How could it have felt like home, except to also never have felt like it was, nor that it could be? >, to not just a country, but an entire continent?
It is a hard feeling.
It is a strange feeling.
It is, certainly, an experience.
Substantial (multiple years’) international living for work without any permanent residency is a promise of an ending, even if one inadvertently assimilates during the time.
Can you sigh and continue, < I am sorry. I tried. Really. I did this, and this, and that. Oh, remember when I…? But it seems nothing I did was the right thing. And now, I know: I must go. >, and not expect to feel like your life has been a dream for years that no one will understand, especially in your future?
Could you not be utterly confused and lost over the past five years of your life? Matching up the goals and outcomes, the contingency plans after plans after plans after plans, the associated work and writing and paperwork and… it was your life, it turns out.
It was a life.
Your heartbeat quickens.
It was a life.
Your chest constricts.
It is a life.
You try to remember.
But I didn’t live it that way.
It just came about and passed, didn’t it?
Your pulse is rapid.
You are looking quickly around but seeing nothing.
You stare at your upturned hands.
through emptiness of your own confusion
It is impossible to not rewind and to reconsider, to cast doubt and pull in anger, frustration, fear, isolation, anxiety, the twine bundles them around all the good that was actually there, but that you couldn’t see, because you may wish you were more perfect, but you aren’t,
because you saw it all wrong, because you really had no idea,
because your stomach was in knots too often.
because you thought that gesture meant something different.
because that tone of voice surely evidenced their distaste.
because you wouldn’t explain.
because you couldn’t understand.
because you became terrified.
because you hid.
because they made fun of your country.
because you felt reverberations.
because you were an immigrant of sorts.
because they didn’t talk to you because you didn’t talk to them because they didn’t talk to you because you didn’t because they didn’t because you.
because you closed up.
because you wanted what you had once known somewhere else.
because you, finally, could understand the immigrants back home who clutch their languages and cultures,
who push away others, who just want, who overboil and bellow out, who crumple down and sob, who work and trudge, who
…but you also now know the meaning of home is probably different for them, as it is for you.
They live in memory, in response, in thought, in want, in the past, in hope, in regret, in pushes forward and falls back, in changes, in a wish to not need to share as much as to just be inherently understood, without effort.
Sometimes, you’re dancing along the streets, laughing because you can understand across others, curiously inspecting, seeing new, experiencing other, working, talking, thinking, without the baggage of culture and without those preconceived notions of you, with the diversities of differences, different countries, different homes, you secretly know: they are all the same.
It is not all bad, or all good.
For all of us who do it.
And you can knowingly smile at one another with this understanding.
These feelings, these ideas, these new ways of seeing and, ultimately, understanding other people across the globe, are what make your very-unique experience actually rather dull, tried-tested-and-true,
Still, now you have to leave.
It is the lump in your throat, the pain in your heart, heavy, the remembrances, the sounds, the stillness of the air, the restructuring of your mind, the initial fear, the forests, the small and large hopes, the tears, the silence, the wants, the learning, the clearness of the water, the losses, the hoarfrost on fields, the days after days after months after months after years, the aging, the golden field grasses, the seeing the world changing, the individuality of being completely and utterly alone, the darkness, the candles, the feeling of being an outsider, and also the times you felt a part of, the chats and laughs, the friends, the coworkers, the grocery shopping and the terrible coffee, the common habits that make something what it is, it is that you formed a new life and you want to go home, but this home is now past like the others, and this life, you cannot keep it, and this is what makes leaving a country so hard.
And it is knowing you’re not allowed back.
It didn’t mean anything to them, did it?
But it meant everything to you.
Could I say, < It is for the best, isn’t it? We are too different. Cats and dogs. Moon and sun. Rich and poor. Light and dark. Water and oil. Oslo and me. Norway and me. >, and hold back, < but then why do I feel so rejected, again?>, instead, following with a hypothetical,
< Right? >
A tip of the hat and a walk off into the sunset.
I never knew with Norway.
It was a land of extremes, in emotion and photoperiod, to me.
It was the longest I lived in another country than my own.
It was the country hardest to explain.
It was the country I tried the most for, while simultaneously pushing away from.
It was the country I felt the most about, for better and worse.
I never knew why I tried, or if I was stupid to have done so.
I, really, never knew…
But I think this is goodbye.
Jeg virkelig vet ikke.