Saturday, October 13, 2012

How do you choose where to go?

A few days ago I saw an aurora. Robert, the roadkill-eating, nudist-retreat-attending, Ron-Paul-supporting Czech wwoofer came and knocked on my door around 3am, and I ran to pull on my coat like the aurora was as fast-disappearing as a rainbow. But it was comparatively sturdy. One part was right above us. It was long, choppy streaks of whitish light, moving so fast it looked like it was flashing. Robert said he'd never seen such a quick-moving aurora. Then in another direction, past the north-east fjord, under the orange lights of the huge fire-burning-factory (I still don't know what they make there, but you can hear the fire some nights, according to Ole), there was a more placid drapery, heavy with light at the bottom that was crawling back and forth. No green-red-purple "dancing" or "fluttering," just this pale whitish light crawling. The air didn't crackle with static and there was no haunting electronic score. On the drama level it was one step higher than cool clouds, but much lower than lightning.

Where would you go if you could pick any place in the world to spend a year? The fellowship I applied for (and eventually, ridiculously received) asked that question. My actual reasons for wanting to go to Norway were threefold: 1) scenery, 2) a place where you can toss water in the air and it'll freeze before it hits the ground, and 3) auroras. An acquaintance of mine whom I'm obsessed with from a distance (so many people are obsessed with her close-up, and I felt I couldn't be one of them), who has traveled widely, said she thinks the only good way to decide where to travel next is having a vague hunch about wanting to go there. I like thinking like that. I really hate the concept of "It's not the destination, it's the journey." I ended up in Norway thinking instead: "It's not the journey, it's the destination." (I mean, I wasn't thoughtful about where I could could learn or pursue my interests. I picked a place based on hearsay and cultural diffusion, and ended up here after a very abrupt flight from Boston. Suck on that, "journey.") While I'm at it, I'd just like to say that character is what you do when everyone else is watching.

I learned how to drive a stick-shift today (actually a tractor from 1968), and I cleaned the sheep stable alone for six hours, and I remembered things, such as: The stinging nettles infested with tiny black ants, this summer. The time I kept bugging my friends on LSD to watch this great Youtube video (a Soup spoof of TLC), and it had been removed for a copyright claim. I still cringe about that! I remembered a bathroom but I couldn't remember the house. Now I can't remember the bathroom either, just that I remembered it.

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