It was May 2012, I was 43 years old, and it was my first trip overseas. Ever…
Even though I’d collected a few stamps in my passport from some very picturesque spots such as the Caymans, Mexico, Belize and Honduras, I’d never been to another continent besides North or Central America. I’d always dreamed of traveling to the British Isles, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany and a few other idyllic countries for as long as I can remember, but I’d never had the opportunity–let alone the money. And I’d never really given Norway a second thought after that last school bell rang, finally ushering in summer break and bringing my 6th grade year to an official close. School was out, the books were closed and handed back in to our teacher, and I was far, far away from anything that had to do with Eric the Red or Lief Ericson. Vikings, schmikings.
So why did I move to Viking-land??
He looked harmless enough. Cute, even. When he made his second trip over to the U.S. in January 2009 to visit our mutual friends, I still hadn’t met him. It was on his third trip that I decided to finally meet him and see if he was as charming and funny in real life as our friends (and Facebook) said he was. Prior to meeting him, I had told myself that there was nothing to be anxious about, because not only did I have our mutual friends on speed dial, but also because he lives in Norway. Surely there’s safety in that, I reminded myself. I felt free to flirt, talk, and get better acquainted with a very handsome, dark haired, blue-eyed, dimpled smile, total stranger. “He lives in Norway,” I kept telling myself. “It’s ok to talk to him and flirt all you want, because there’s NO WAY that you are moving to NORWAY!” Ohhhhhhhhh, those famous last words….
Fast forward to May 2012.
I’m on the flight to Norway. My flight schedule was Chicago-Stockholm-Oslo. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. All I could think about was seeing him again–without having to use Face Time–and wondering how my daughter, Rowan (who was about to turn 4) was doing. I’d arranged for her to stay with my youngest sister, her husband and their four kids, because I knew she would be so busy there that she would not have the chance to think about how much she missed me, and also because they just love the stuffin’ out of her.
The purpose of this trip was to not only spend a great deal of time with my future husband, but also to see if Norway was a place that I would feel comfortable with moving Rowan and myself to. I had done my homework on Norway before taking the trip, and I always asked Rune lots of questions about what life is like there when a particular question suddenly popped into my head. Rowan and I lived in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, in a quiet little gathering of houses in Coal Creek Canyon, just off of Highway 72. We were outside almost every day, loved going out for rides in my Jeep on the weekends, went for hikes in the woods, were surrounded by fantastic nature, we were close to our wonderful friends who became more like family to us, I had a great job that I loved and Rowan had a fine spot in a preschool that she looked forward to going to each day. Our life was good there. It was tough in many ways, but it was good. And Norway would have to be 10 times more spectacular than our lives were back in the foothills of the Rockies, otherwise it was a no go. I refused to settle for anything less. Not for myself, and definitely not for my nearly 4 year old daughter.