Hold on to your hats because this is a big one. I have no idea how to actually tackle a topic as vast as this except to leap straight into it. It will likely be a series. Or something. Cuz there’s a lot to say.
Starting with the basics – A couple of years ago – 2016 to be precise – i met a fine lass online in a group i was adminning. It was a writers group. For writers. And we met and hit it off. That gal lived in Norway. Oslo, specifically, a country and a city that i hadn’t ever really intended to visit. It seemed nice in pictures and stuff but i am a homebody. One of those folks who dreamt listlessly of travel, but subsided within a life that really should NOT have been comfortable, but was. It’s weird how that works. You get used to things not being ideal and the non-ideal becomes the comfortable and then, by some sort of crappy metamorphosis, the ideal.
Well, it took a little pushing, a little prodding, and a little nudging as well as a bank account that was finally amenable and… to make a long story short, i went out to visit this gal in May of 2017 – for my birthday.
The visit was a little more than a week long. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome and i figured that was a good amount of time to see how we clicked without either of us getting too much in each other’s face or anything. We clicked pretty well.
It turns out, really well. On the second to last day before i was supposed to head home to America, she proposed. Yep. SHE did. We both laugh about it now because we’d both tried to mentally prepare ourselves to head off just that sort of silliness. I mean… we might be fiction writers, but that’s one of those things you hear about in romance novels. I think that moment caught us both by surprise. In fact, i know it did. She said it and i accepted it. Just like that. In spite of both of our respective brains stating uncategorically that such a thing could not, should not happen. That it was basically bonkers.
But then again, we’re a little accustomed to bonkers.
The question of WHERE we would then settle was… well… settled almost instantly. Due to medical complications, there was no way i would permit my betrothed to reside in the medical hellscape that is the United States. Even with a decent job and health care, it would be a recipe for bankruptcy. Her care and medication would have us being permanent residents of the poor house unless – by some miracle – we won the lottery or i suddenly became an amazing best selling author (a feat which could only be accomplished by me actually completing any number of the 3 dozen open projects i had working at the time)
This brings us to the REAL point of this blog…
To freaking NORWAY.
Now, i’m sure i will likely use these pages to blather on relentlessly about the wonders of Norway and Oslo specifically. I’ve been there a bunch of times now and i absolutely love it. But there’s more. There is the unusually frought – emotionally – concept of BEING AN IMMIGRANT which provides a unique perspective on that experience that i never thought i would actually have.
See… we’ve now ACTUALLY BEEN MARRIED for a year and a half. We were married in December of 2017. And since that time we’ve managed to be together for a few months here and a month there. Intermittent and sporadic moments of togetherness that are great for the first week or so, but then take on more and more notes of omen as the time grows increasingly short. It’s a crappy way to live – always bordering on the one foot reluctantly out the door, trying to cram as much living into the time we have together and otherwise relying on the capriciousness of an unstable internet service for things like Skype and watching shows together on Rabbit. There’s a seven hour time difference, so one or the other of us is constantly existing on fumes of energy. But we’ve been making it work. Ish. Uncomfortably and with difficulty, but it’s been working.
So i will be filing my paperwork to get a permanent residence visa in a week or two. I will be there, with her, in a few days and right now she’s here in Wisconsin. So that’s good.
But i would be lying if i said it’s all rosy and wonderful. And i know i bounced around this issue a lot over the preceding paragraphs but…
NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS EASY.
Honestly, the easiest shit to deal with is the technical stuff – the Visa and all that. That’s a matter of filling out forms, doing stuff. There’s a list. You check it off. You do your best and get it done like it’s a job. It’s the other stuff. The mental stuff. The ‘HOLY SHIT THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING’ stuff. The uncomfortable recognition that you are leaving the only home you’ve ever known. That you will be thousands of miles from everyone you know. That you are leaving a lifetime of stuff behind. That you – at 45 years old – are leaving a lifetime behind and starting with a very terrifying slate so clean you could mistake it for a plate and eat off of it.
It is fucking terrifying.
So… here, in all its yawning Cthulhu-esque glory, is a categorical list of the utter and complete brain freak out that is currently occuring behind my calm veneer:
- Jesus Shit Holy Fuck I’m TOTALLY ass broke and can’t afford to do this.
- I need one pair of jeans and a pair of hiking pants
- how am i going to get all this shit into my luggage
- how am i going to afford the metro pass
- how am i going to find a job
- where am i going to find a job
- crap can’t even work for months while my visa is processing
- what if they don’t let me in
- what if they think we’re lying for me to immigrate and don’t believe we’re married
- How the hell did people do this when the trip took five months by boat
- How did people do this with only pen and paper as communication tools
- What’s going to happen to my friends without me
- What’s going to happen to my family without me
- Is everyone going to be okay without me
- Is my leaving the dumbest thing i’ve ever done in my life?
- Is my leaving the smartest thing i’ve ever done in my life?
- It feels like the smartest thing.
- But what about my poor cat? When will i be able to bring her over?
- Why is my country so stupid as to force people out rather than figure out how to help them live?
- Why is my country so stupid?
- Oh crap. Norway. That’s right next to Russia. What if they invade?
- Why is it so damned hard to learn the language?
- Will i fit in okay?
- What if i don’t fit in okay?
- What if i can’t find friends?
- Where will i find friends?
- How do i find friends when i haven’t been very good at it before?
- You’re 45. People don’t start over at 45. They start planning their own funerals. They slog the rest of their way through a dreary life and then die grateful that it’s over.
- Is my anxiety going to settle down when you get there?
- Is my anxiety ever going to settle down?
- OMG this is so wonderful and i can’t believe i’m starting over at 45!
- She’s the wonderfullest ever and this is all totally worth it.
This is not a complete list, mind you. At any given moment there are 81 flavors of panic going through my brain and i don’t have to even get on a leaking, sinking life raft and cross an ocean to do it. All i have to do is get on a plane and FOR A CHANGE i will actually be getting on a plane WITH MY WIFE. No more leaving her at the airport – i hope. But that doesn’t mean i’m not in perpetual panic mode.
Immigrating IS NOT FUCKING EASY. And i’m doing it the easiest way possible. And we’re doing it the legal – totally above board – way. But don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This is not a decision anyone takes lightly. I would like to stay. I would like to stick around my friends, my family, have the life that i thought i would. I would like to build our lives here, together, with my people and everything i’ve always known. And in the days leading up to the grand adventure i find myself staring constantly at the familiar things knowing that it may be a while before i see them again.
No one does this lightly. People don’t leave their home because they are happy. They leave because they must. Because they believe there is something better and they can see glimpses of being happier. And because, regardless of HOW FUCKING HARD IT IS – WHATEVER comes is better than what is.
I’m not crossing a border or an ocean. I’m getting on a plane with the papers necessary to hopefully get me a permanent residence visa. In a few years time, i hope to apply for citizenship. But even so, with all of that, with doing it the ‘right way’ i still know a little – maybe just a tiny little – bit of what those people are going through. I’ve seen it in my own heart and my own head. It’s absolutely terrifying, but somehow the terror of risking is better than the terror of not risking.
And she’s totally worth it.