Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Not *really* lost, just in Oslo

But I feel lost. The whole process of moving to a foreign place feels like being lost and finding yourself over and over again. Everything must be relearned to a certain extent, but you are given a few clues with which to start. Familiar letters, pictures and sounds. You are reduced to a 4 year old sounding out letters, something akin to a Dick and Jane book. Toaletter for instance. Hmmm. Towlettay? Twaletter? It doesn't matter how you pronounce it, but after a few seconds you realize, a ha! Toilet. And then you find yourself excited over every word you can figure out the meaning of. The same goes with habits and actions.

Every day is a constant rediscovery of things that you did without a second thought.

For instance, food. Never really had to worry about food before. Just went to the store and bought it. Now it's: where is the grocery store, which one is better, how do we get to the store, is the store open, is it a Sunday and am I totally screwed? My first breakdown came at the grocery store when I realized I needed 10 kroner to get the bloody cart to even think about putting food in my basket. When I asked a woman to help me try to decipher the denominations of the coins I did have, she thought I was panhandling at first. After discovering I needed 10 kroner adn finding an ATM and buying something to get change, I was ready and armed with my basket. Then began the shopping by pictures. Then the pictures began to look the same. Excuse me sir, what is the word for ham? Stinky? Oh, Shinky. Uh, really? Could you spell that please? S-k-i-n-k-e. Sounds like shinka. Excuse me lady, could you please just tell me which is the normal salt? Because there are 10 different kinds here. Oh, no more room in the basket and I don't have ten more kroner. Time to check out, put bags in the car, and then come back in again. Seriously. I'm not kidding.

Then there are rules that maybe you just never learned: 

1. Always put brakes on the stroller. It's really windy here. Strollers can fall into the tram tracks, and well, that's bad. At least Alec wasn't in the stroller at the time, so that's a bonus. This may seem like common sense, but I ask, do you actually incorporate the brake on a regular basis if you live in a suburban mall most of the time?

2. Wear boots outside of your jeans. It may be a fashion faux pas in the states, but is a necessary evil. At least we will all look like idiots together. In fact the look is kind of growing on me. But the problem is that I need skinny jeans and not bootcut, and I don't think I can find pants to fit over my ginormous American ass. 

3. Always carry 10 kroner with you for the grocery store. See above explanation.

4. Bad weather is no excuse to stay inside.

So I'm relearning my rules to live by. Day-to-day I just worry about getting out of the apartment, cooking dinner, and making sure Alexandre is taken care of and fed and happy. I guess we've gone back to basics. I'm sure Nirvana will come later, Maslow.