So what strikes me the most, coming home again after 11 years abroad? It’s been 3 weeks, all of them on a boat – our temporary home waiting for the keys to our brand new home which will be handed to us in one week. So it’s safe to say that the everyday has not at all set in, nor has reality really. I kind of feel like we’re just on our annual sailing holiday, although the boat isn’t moving much and the girls have started school. Or that we’re in some bubble, still in an in-between state.
Still, I’m walking the streets of this city I lived in and loved before my expat years, taking in the vibe of it again, and a few things strike me after all:
Our new hood is Oslo’s petite France. They seem to be everywhere. Being Norwegians in Norway, that still makes us feel more at home – some kind of natural transition from French-influenced Luxembourg, some kind of link to our expat life.
Strangers smile at me when I walk those streets, some even crack a joke or make a funny face as our paths briefly cross. Not the French though.
The streets seem to have a smell of freshly baked bread lingering over them. Some of it French – obviously.
95% of the cars stop at the zebra crossings (as opposed to 5% in France). The mad cyclists racing into work in the morning don’t. If they did they wouldn’t win the daily OC (Office Championship). They’re the ones your school children need to look out for.
Some things are more continental than when we left. Like macarons, croissants and Zadig&Voltaire. Oops… so actually things are more French than when we left…
People are dressed much more casually, including office people.
Yet there seems to be a uniform in some of these streets; blonde hair in bun or ponytail, the right sunglasses and the right jeans (wrapped around slim, long legs). Possibly a trophy dog.
I”ve lived in my expat city for much longer than I’ve lived in this one, yet I feel at home in these streets like I never did in the streets I walked as an expat.
Some things have changed, many things have stayed the same. Keeps my world in place.
Boat people are nice people.
Yet I look forward to living in a house again, and to this list getting longer. I can see that in these early days back home, I’m searching for the good things, the little things, possibly seeing through sunglasses (although perhaps not the right ones). Let’s see down the road.