I think of you often. Just this month, I received a letter from your brother Aksel’s granddaughter in Norway. It came via a circuitous route. Actually, it’s amazing that it reached me. It was mailed to our old home where you and Mom brought us up and it was addresses to Gjertine, my dear sister who is gone now too. The letter languished in the Post Office’s saved mail while the current owners of our house were off on vacation. When they returned and received the letter, rather than returning it to sender, they contacted a woman in the neighborhood who has my address and phone number. She sent the letter to me.
When I opened it, I found that Heidi and her family had visited New York in October and were hoping to get together with us. I am so sorry I missed them and I’m going to write and tell them so. In the envelope was a picture that Aunt Henrietta had displayed on her bureau. It was of you, Uncle Aksel, Gjertine and me on Uncle Aksel’s fishing boat. Although I was only 8 years old then, I remember Mom snapping the picture.
I am hoping that someday I will return to Norway and visit with our family again. I am well as is everyone else. Still, after all these years, I miss you. I wish we could get together and drink coffee and discuss books and politics again. It’s November and soon the holidays will be here and I will miss you and Mom and Gjertine even more.
I always think of you with love.
Time cannot be perceived. It must be reconstructed by the brain. So, the perception of time is subjective and variable. There are some psychologists who believe that you can describe personalities by the way time is perceived.
In a faraway time, I traveled with my mother, father and sister to Europe. I was 8 years old. The plane ride took forever but, eventually, we did land—in Oslo, a magical city where colors were brighter, buildings had sharper corners, cars were square and the sun gave off light that bent at odd angles. From Oslo, we traveled north by boat. I felt feverish as we glided past massive mountains that jutted into the sky and held fishing villages at their green bases. Fifty miles within the Aortic Circle, we arrived at my father’s childhood home.
I couldn’t communicate with my grandparents who spoke only Norwegian. My ability with the language was childhood basic. My father preferred to speak in Norwegian although most of my other relatives spoke English. I was jettisoned into a “children are seen but not heard” mode which suited me fine. I was left free to take in all that was around me with no distractions.
My father had timed our arrival to coincide with the first day of summer and so we all trooped out at midnight to view the Midnight Sun. The light was eerie—like mesh filtered it and I looked directly at the sun which was preposterously high in the sky. It, too, was covered in a soft haze that made it viewable without pain. The mountains were lit in a gun metal gray and the fjord was a yellow and blue fluid. More magic.
I have the urge to record. Not just a written record but a photographic one too. I want to write about experiences, memories, feelings, people, culture–and I could keep going. I want to photographic the world’s beauty and its seamy side, tender moments caught in a flash and horrific senseless sights that make us want to turn away.
So, I opened The New York Times Magazine of 3-3-2013 with excitement. Here was the “Voyages” issue, a special issue of travel and culture. The cover featured a picture of Brazil by Massimo Vitali. Inside were more of his works. Here was someone I could learn from! I kept turning pages hungry for more and then it hit me. “God’s Light Show–The Magical Realism of Norwegian Nights.” The above photo is taken from the article.
When I was eight years old, I traveled with my father, mother and sister to my father’s childhood home fifty miles within the Arctic Circle in Norway. The timing of the visit was meant to coincide with the first day of summer–the longest day of the year–which in Norway is about twenty-four hours. I was still trying to make sense of the wild terrain so different from the environs of New York City where we lived when my mother woke my sister and me up and took us outside to witness the midnight sun. There was nothing to say. The sight was magical. I was living a dream. It was at that moment (I am sure of it) that I realized what amazing things this world had to offer. From then on, there was no contentment in the status quo for me. I had to experience as much as possible.
Of course, at eight years old, the time to do this was infinite or so it seemed. Not so now. Now I must make up for the lost time spent being a productive (typical) member of society–working, raising a family, taking two week vacations all of which were worthwhile. But, now its time to explore.