the night we hid our childhood memories in drawers and cupboards and make believe-safes?
How we wrapped secrets and fairy tales in the blankets our five-year-old selves couldn’t sleep without.
Whispering, we gently placed them all in unforgettable treasure chambers.
Do you remember how the shoes that blinked when we walked slowly faded, greying like streets heavy with rain, as electricity bills ate all our ice cream pennies.
Our hiding places got more secret, and as we walked past them yelling Marco, they stopped replying, as deadlines and invoices and parking tickets called louder than memories ever dared.
If you do, then please let me tell you how last night I found that childhood drawer, and today I’m sat here on the floor, flicking through dusty sweet wrappers wondering whether I should give them back or not.
I almost throw them away.
Stamps are expensive and memories are heavy. I’ve learned it’s not cheap, to wrap nostalgia up in polaroid pictures and Royal Mail envelopes.
I won’t throw them away though. I don’t think I ever will.
I suddenly find myself in a situation I haven’t been in before. I’m sat in a borrowed fifth floor flat in the middle of the biggest city in Norway, looking out over the sun setting over Oslo, shrouding the parks and the buildings and the castle in mid-July nighttime. This is a fairly quiet part of the city center, but compared to my 2000 people-hometown, everything seems grand and loud. People are wandering on the streets below me, and I am both in the middle of more bustle than I’m used to, and also so incredibly on the outside of it. Not a bad place to be, really.
Big cities are strange. It’s in the cities stuff is happening. Big cities mean life, big cities are synonymous with energy, big cities smell of adventure, new foods and bright colours. People gather in big cities, huddle together in big cities, but people are also incredibly lonely in big cities. Big cities are for dreams and worries and ambitions and nails bitten short.
At the moment I’m so very new to this city. I’ve never lived with the sounds of trams passing outside my window, and it’s a new experience. Maybe the best way to get used to the city bustle is to sing with it. I tried that; a song about how no matter what else you have or haven’t got, at least you’ll always have tomorrow. Maybe the city is a little bit more mine now than it was this morning. Maybe it’ll be a little bit more mine tomorrow. Like I said, I’m so incredibly new to this city. I don’t know it properly and it certainly doesn’t know me, yet. But maybe one day. Maybe this city will lead to small changes that will lead to big changes, maybe this first temporary stay will lead to some sort of personal growth I’m not prepared for and certainly not aware of at the moment. This feels like the beginning of something – I’m just not sure what.
I brought one of my favourite mugs, filled it with tea and now I’m sat overlooking the buildings and the trees in the park. Cars, trams, taxis and electric scooters; meters below me life is going on and on. I can’t wait to join in, but for tonight I think I’m just going to feel oh so very fortunate to suddenly find myself on the rooftops of the capital, to see the city from above, to be in the middle of what feels like everything, and still be a little bit distanced from it. I’ll learn and grow and get to know this city tomorrow. I’m very excited about it.
As cliche as it might be, sometimes books just speak to you. I was looking through old folders of videos, and I found two videos recounting my favourite book quotes of years long gone and passed. There was one video from 2010 and one from 2013 and it was interesting to see what kind of quotes and books made it into those videos, what quotes I felt it important to remember “for ever” and what words I wanted to share with the world. It made me think about the quotes that are important to me now, and it made me want to remake that video with my favourite books as of late.
So here goes; a couple of words to live by, some to laugh at, and others to simply enjoy.
I’m moving out of my flat on the 15th of June, which is, objectively, still more than a month away. However, spending so much time inside this flat lately has really made me think about what this flat means (and has meant) to me and what the future will hopefully bring, and in a fit of … not really inspiration and definitely not passion, but in a fit of something, I decided to dismantle my postcard wall today.
I love my postcard wall. When I first moved to Kristiansand I bought my first ever mailbox, and for a couple of moments, I felt like a proper adult. To fill the mailbox with nice things, I joined Postcrossing, and since September 2018 I’ve sent 203 cards and received 202. Every single card has been meticulously pinned to my wall, and today I’ve taken them all down. It took me about an hour – I wanted to have a read through, and properly look at all of them, not just tear them down.
The postcard wall has served as an interesting and unique piece of decoration to make a student flat seem a bit less dull (and orange, that wall is oh so very orange). It was the one thing people always commented on when they entered my flat; there was always a “wow” or a “what on earth is all this?” But more important than that – it made the flat feel a bit less temporary. The postcard wall was “my thing”; 202 greetings from 202 people I’ve never met, 202 people’s handwritings and well-wishes from around the world, and something that slowly built itself up around me. And as I was taking the cards down, I looked at so many of them and I realised that I can remember receiving almost all of them. I remember when specific cards popped into my mailbox, how quickly I ran inside to register them and pop a message back to the sender, before putting them up on the wall, contemplating whether the front or the back should be on show. I do not know where any of the cards I’ve sent ended up, but maybe they’re on someone else’s postcard wall, or in an album or a box that someone flicks through when they need a smile or a giggle. The postcard wall has definitely made me feel safe and at home, like I’m surrounded by these snippets of time, these conversations happening at kitchen tables and desks all around the globe. What a privilege to get to be a part of such a thing.
I’ve moved six times in the last six years, but this is the first flat I’m genuinely sad to leave. Taking down this wall, which I’ve appreciated so much, felt like the first step to taking my time to thank the flat and start moving out of it. Having to rush all of these cards down, while simultaneously trying to pack up everything else just felt wrong; the cards needed their own time and their own moments. Silly, I know, but it just felt right.
So here you go, I hope you enjoy this little snippet of how the postcard wall came to be history. A lot less dramatic than I make it sound, but to be fair, removing the first card felt quite dramatic to me. Then it became a bit meditative, as I read through the kind words of strangers who’ve all given me a little bit of their time on the back of a card, who all helped make this flat feel a little bit more like mine. And without planning for it, the very last card left on the wall, the very last to be carefully taken down, was actually the very first I received. Full circle, and all that.
Here’s to many more postcards, in many more mailboxes to come. I hope you’re having a lovely day, and that you’re staying safe wherever you are.
~ The Horror and the Wild album ~ world poetry day ~ the first dandelions of the season ~ spring starting to peek its head through ~ “Fair” by The Amazing Devil ~ (almost) daily snapchats of my best friend’s son of about 2 and a half ~ Microsoft Teams ~ The 2016 Moomin Summer mug ~ my nephew’s small hands tucked into warm mittens ~ lavender hand soap ~ hula hoops ~ the coastline ~ the blue table cloth-turned-bedspread which I bought at a stall on the Winchester high street and still love and cherish ~ surprising messages from people I haven’t spoken to in a while ~ loving messages from people I talk to every single day ~ the bluetooth speakers I just managed to get working ~ gathering data for my BA thesis ~ the day getting longer and longer ~ people taking the corona epidemic seriously and coming together to fight the spread of the virus ~ walks along the rocks by the fjord on my own ~ the fjord~ my little uni flat ~ the bookshelves at my parents’ house ~ my mum’s knitted cardis ~ ao3 subscription emails ~ the on-going search for the perfect jar to store tea in ~ “morning coffee” at work ~ all the musicians live streaming home gigs right now ~ my mum’s chocolate cake ~ a clean kitchen ~ cheesy 2010-romances ~ old diaries ~ a tidy room ~ nicknames ~ finding the perfect birthday present for someone even though it’s not their birthday for many many months and being so excited to give the present that you almost let slip what it is ~ The Witcher book series ~ my IKEA stuffed shark called Willie ~ crossing stuff off my to do list ~ a good sleep schedule ~ living by the sea ~ donating blood ~ being the first one to get up in the morning and popping the kettle on ~ home-knitted slippers~ “your package has been shipped” ~ rediscovering old favourite books ~ being ahead on tomorrow’s to do list ~ the quiet of living in a tiny place ~ coincidences ~ discount coach fares ~ succulents ~ emails that are easy to write ~ BA thesis tutorials on skype~ the sun ~ good colleagues ~ skype hang-outs with friends ~ plans for the future ~
These last few weeks have been very strange, and I don’t have anything new to add but for my own peace of mind I have to say something.
Since last Wednesday, we’ve seen a lot of societies shut down. In Norway there are travel bans and shop shut downs and all the unis and schools and nurseries are closed. The streets are empty and no one’s at work apart from critical workers.
People are isolating, turning social distancing up to the max and really taking quarantining seriously. Good.
The rules and regulations made to fight off this virus are strict and they’re a bit scary. Never before have I not been allowed to leave my own house, never before have the streets outside been so empty. Businesses are losing money, people are scared for the future, economies all over the world are taking major hits and who even knows how the world will look after this. But I am glad we’re doing it. Extreme times, extreme measure. This situation is strange and scary, yes, but so is this virus and I will loudly support any measure put in place to gather the world to fight it.
“Love in the time of Covid-19” is a phrase I’ve seen a couple of people use now, and it kind of stuck with me. It sounds silly and and silly is definitely something we need right now. I can also how it is a direct reference to Love in the time of Cholera, a book I started but could never finish. Completely unrelated to the current crisis, it is also a great reminder of my friend’s 12th birthday, when her mum rented the film version of said book, thinking “hm, this sounds like a nice film for a bunch of kids”. It was not, but hey, we got a good story out of it.
However, I think that phrase also got stuck because it poses such an important question right now: what does love look like, in these times of not being able to be together?
It is important to talk about how we show love right now, because it’s so very different from how we normally do it. When we cannot express love by clasping our hands together, by pulling the ones we love into the tightest hug, by sleeping next to each other feeling the calm of everyday, we have to find other ways. Right now we are showing love by staying away, by respecting quarantine regulations, by being cautious. We are showing love by isolating ourselves, so that the risk groups can stay safe, by coming together as we’re staying apart. So strange and so very, very important.
~ starting a new tv series you know nothing about ~ finding new books you’ve never heard of before, but the cover looks good ~ chocolate covered peanuts ~ the colour yellow ~ fruit smoothies with orange juice ~ wild rhubarb-smelling all purpose cleaners ~ framed photographs ~ old home videos ~ finishing books you’ve been working your way through for a while ~ getting your bachelor’s thesis proposition accepted ~ quiet study spaces ~ fried eggs ~ decluttering desk drawers ~ my new reading stand so I don’t have to hunch over my books during long study sessions (because I am an old lady) ~ re-falling in love with old favourite albums ~ the Taylor Swift Netflix-documentary ~ early morning bus rides ~ my baby nephew who’s just turned 7 months and is absolutely wonderful ~ the Life’s Library book club ~ quiet Sundays ~ oversized corduroy shirts ~ having just refilled your bus pass so it says “31 days left” when you beep it ~ the sun starting to peak back out in the spring ~ getting to the launderette just to realise that ALL the laundry machines are available ~ frozen grass that creeks under your shoes ~ a filled and organised book shelf ~ surprisingly productive days ~ being able to properly express your opinion at a student parliament meeting ~ seeing your work be published in online journals or other places ~ green apple-scented IKEA candles ~ dry shampoo ~ a newly hoovered floor ~ finally having milk in the house again after forgetting to buy it for a couple of days ~ beautiful handwriting ~ tea ~ my new customised planner ~ New Years mood boards ~ highlighters that aren’t neon coloured ~ examining different language translations of a poem and exploring what kind of different choices the translators were making ~ having your entire future in front of you ~ being able to look back at the past with both nostalgia and gratitude ~ finishing up a really big knitting or crochet project ~ getting started on a new and exciting knitting project ~ plans going exactly as planned ~ learning a new skill ~ proving yourself wrong on something you didn’t think you could do ~ waking up to snow on a January morning ~ mugs that are just the perfect size for your hands ~ feeling the warmth seep back into you after a walk in the cold winter air ~ finally grasping something you’ve struggled with in lectures ~ happy “hello”s on the street as you see people you know hurry past ~ David Tennant’s podcast ~ the new mittens my mum knitted for me ~ a good and respectful debate ~ seeing “assignment submitted” in big green letters on Canvas Student ~
A green spray bottle of stove top-cleaner and a bright yellow tea towel hangs from the handle of a dark grey cupboard door. Contrasts, let’s call it that. Behind that cupboard door, generic-brand chocolate chip cookies, bags of rice, tins of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans are waiting for their respective dinners. I’m sat at the kitchen table, a light brown table with four grey chairs around it, with a mug of tea in my hands. Steam rises in swirls from the mug; swirls I’m sure could tell someone more clearsighted than me about an abundance of futures. To me, it only speaks of comfort and of the prospect of having a nice sip of tea, soon.
A big window covers the wall next to me, framed by white, opaque curtains. Through it, I can see directly into the kitchen next door, where two people are sat just like me, mugs in hand, sun in through the window. I recognise their mugs; big mugs for hefty portions of warm beverages, with pineapples and watermelons painted on them. They’re from the little coffee-and-tea shop in town, the shop that always leaves your clothes smelling sweetly of artisan drinks whenever you visit. They’re sipping their drinks. It’s quiet.
I’m eating reheated soup. It tastes good because it’s good soup, but also because I didn’t have to make it myself and it was free. I was at the uni at 6 pm on Friday, right when the cafeteria gave away all the food they hadn’t been able to sell that day. I was with some friends at Østsia, our uni’s little student pub, from 1 pm to close to 7, just sitting, talking and chatting, laughing. Haven’t done anything like that in a while, just gone out to sit in the same spot for hours and enjoy the company of lovely people. It was sorely needed.
Back in the kitchen, the note on the fridge with “Welcome to the Flat!” is still stuck to the door. It’s been there since June of last year, June 2019. I wrote it as a greeting to whoever were gonna move in over the summer, and even though Maja did move in, and we’re both settled here now, we’ve just never removed it. Now it can greet visitors, guests, maybe even the people who’ll move in after us. Next to the fridge is the very pink bread box, the glass jar filled to the brim with my yorkshire tea bags, a couple of cookbooks and our kettle. That kettle has followed me through a couple of flats now, and it’s still going strong; still making excellent tea. Or at least the water for said tea. However, it’s getting a bit rusty on the inside, so maybe this is its last flat. We’ll see.
Today is a Sunday, and Sundays mean cosy clothes. I’m wearing my favourite Levis Mile High jeans, the ones I’m planning on wearing until they fall apart, and my burgundy corduroy shirt. It is the cosiest shirt, one of those you can just button up and disappear in.
I’m gonna get started on some uni work now, but I just wanted to record this little moment in all its mundaneness. I often think about how many seconds and minutes of my life I cannot remember – the moments that disappear into nothingness when more exciting things come along and demand space in my memory bank, in my brain, and I have a feeling this moment is gonna be one of those. Well, at least I’ve written it down now. Excitement and plans and socialising are all important parts of life, but sometimes, this quiet nothing is comfortable too.
So here’s to many more minutes of this; of teacup swirls and reheated soup and absolutely nothing.
I’m in a soft mood today; a mood that calls for soft October sun through the window and old forgotten loves on Spotify. I’m in the mood for hot chocolate breakfasts and hoodies that can hide all the stress of the week in oversized pocket. I’m in the mood for Sunday newspapers, sharpening pencils, and the smell of laundry detergent. A soft mood calls for Trygve Skaug’s beautiful lyrics and playful guitar, and picking old book acquaintances off of the shelves again; those I said hi to a while ago but never remembered to call back. I’m in the mood for handicrafts, for braiding and crocheting.
Uni in Norway starts up in early August, and so we’re about halfway through the semester now. This semester has gotten to me more than semesters prior. I’m one of those people who constantly overfill their calendars; who always tries to borrow golden seconds of nighttime to make the day longer. With multiple assignments every week, sometimes more than one in a day, lectures four days a week, two jobs, one volunteering job and a lot of uni reading I have definitely overfilled my plate. There have been moments these past couple of weeks where I’ve been so tempted to get on the train and go home. Just take off, hide under the duvet in my family home-bedroom and make a cup of tea big enough to last me a lifetime so I won’t ever have to leave the sanctuary of my bed.
But I won’t do that. Because even though these last few months haven’t been particularly great, they’re something I’ve started and they’re something I’m gonna finish, and when you strip off the stress, this degree is something I thoroughly enjoy. And sometimes life’s just like that, right? I’m gonna give it my all, maybe even more “all” than I’m already doing if I can find it in me, and steer myself safely through these last few months of first semester. And when Christmas comes around, I’m gonna go home with my first semester exam marks neatly wrapped in my bag (content no matter how they turned out) and when I melt into my parents’ first “it’s Christmas, welcome home”-hug, I can sink into it, knowing I gave this semester my best.
So yes, I’m in a soft mood today, and I think I’ll cherish that. I’ll get the work I need to get done done in my own time, I’ll make sure to look plenty out the window and if I want to listen to soft Christmas music a little bit too early, I think I’ll let myself do that too. I’ll let that October sun peek in through the windows and I’ll revisit all those old favorites, and maybe even pick up where I left off with a book started but never finished. I’m in a soft mood, soft moods are necessary to get through this semester, cause I’m doing my best, and reveling in this feeling of soft is a way of being kind to myself. I can be productive in the morning.