I am getting a little desperate here, and it’s all Norway’s fault. I arrived here 6 months ago now and the immigration process has been slow and painful. Not that I really should have expected anything different. I mean, Norway is widely regarded as one of the finest countries on the planet to live in. And frankly, they deserve this reputation. Everyone gets free health care, the library has a ukelele for loan (Black Sabbath sheet music included), and “Verdens Beste” IS actually the world’s best cake. Heck, even their graffiti says upbeat things like, “God Morgen!” (good morning) , with a happy face next to it. Of course, there is the minor inconvenience of the vinmonopolet (wine store) being closed on Sundays and the fact that spring seems to be something that happens to OTHER countries. But let’s not gripe over trivial matters.
My main problem is that I really looooove Norway. Like with a crazy, slightly stalker-ish kinda love. None of the things that are supposed to annoy me as an expat (see above) seem to bother me at all. I spend an inordinate amount of time staring out windows appreciating scenery, or gushing to Norwegians about how much respect I have for this place. Trust me, coming from a Canadian who has visited and /or lived in over 50 countries, this compliment should not be taken lightly.
So why can’t Norway love me back? Just when I think I am close to consummating our love, she pulls away. Another document is needed, I forgot to fill in a space on form 12 B, not enough proof for question 8. This country is a bit of a tease. Every day I wake up with the bait being dangled in front of me-my friends here have cards and visas in their passports, they know their status and their future in this country is relatively secure. They got the Tiffany ring, and I live in constant fear of rejection. There is the very real possibility that I will be spurned by my love at any point, and this limbo is not the most comfortable place to exist. Although if they do eventually kick me out, the thought of being “in exile from Norway” does have a certain poetic, slightly Napoleonic ring to it.
Her fickle nature has led to some rather embarrassing public displays. First, there was the time I cried in the Stavanger Foreign Workers Service Centre after I was told by bureaucrat having a bad hair day that they would not accept my application and I would have to return in a month’s time to resubmit. Cue embarrassing emotional meltdown, and burly Eastern European oil driller dudes eyeing me with bewilderment.
Since then I have had some special times with Norway. We are courting, she and I, but the constant flirtation is far from being carefree. I take a number, wait in line with the rest of her suitors, only to be told I am in the wrong queue, in the wrong place. If I come back next week or next month with a better offer, she might reconsider me. Our dates are rather unconventional and require a lot of preparation on my part. I gave her my university transcripts. Shouldn’t I get something equally valuable in return?
Then there are the precious hours spent on the phone, in delightful banter with the powers that be in Oslo. Nothing better than being told you are number 133 in the queue to speak to an actual human being while obscure mid 90’s ballads play on a constant 4 song loop in the background. Ah, these are the times to remember, Norway.
And yet time and again, I forgive her. She pushes me away, but I keep coming back. One of these days, when I have answered all her questions, and proved myself to her, she might finally let me in. This is all I can think about, and for that, I can be patient. What else can you do when you are in love?