Friday, 7 November 2008

Safe, Sunless Oslo

It's cold again. Imagine that. As the wind whips my face, and I receive a lashing from the sleet shooting down from the Heavens, I think what in God's name have I done?

I live in a city where Halloween is a ritual performed out of car trunks in a poorly lit parking lot. Where men with accordions fight over street turf. Where the women don legwarmers and Wellingtons. 

And just when I think things can't get any different, I discover that the 7-11 down the street was robbed the night before, and I think, ah, just like home. The bottle brunette (because certainly there aren't any naturals here) even showed me the scar  from where the bat met counter. Oh, they employ baseball bats here? Interesting-not even a sport I thought they played here. How do they get the bats? Is there a tax on bats? How does that work? But I digress...

Safety is something I am not entirely used to. Let me rephrase. I have always felt secure in Dallas, but have never lived somewhere and felt truly safe. Here I have no problem walking alone at night downtown-not so in big D. My guard is still up-I am wary to let it down completely. I like to think the wariness keeps me alert. Don't want to lose my street smarts (if I ever had any to begin with). But I also find my trepidation at relaxing can also get in the way of meeting people.

For instance, I was approached at the pool by a girl who is studying to become...wait for astrologer. I smiled politely and listened as she told me about her double cancer sign, and ascending suns and moons and things. She recounted her tales about Mexico and Los Angeles-an aspiring actress as well. She seemed a little dippy and maybe even a little pie-eyed, but truly genuine. She told me all about how she preferred the city to the suburbs, and that the suburbs were filled with bad, shallow people. This all explained while she was completely naked in the shower, like three feet away. She and her breasts both told me eagerly that she would leave her contact information for me at the information desk. What could I do but smile and say "takk"?

I feel bad. I feel bad that I ended up taking her information without really looking at it. I feel bad that I couldn't make eye contact with her as she told me she would like to teach me Norwegian, the whole time knowing that I would never email her or call her. I feel bad that she gave a shit and took an hour to talk to a complete stranger, a foreigner who probably looked like she could use someone to talk to. But she could be crazy right? Who does that? Who calls people they just met randomly? Would I have made a friend if she had been a lawyer or a sta-at-home mom? Probably. 

So I'll keep my guard up for now, avoiding those that are too different from me. I'm not ready to take a chance yet. I'll stick to the ex-pats for now. So far, I've a got a pair of Wellingtons and the newly purchased legwarmers are sitting in the dresser. 

Baby steps.