A year ago I wrote a draft of a post explaining why I loved the ocean, as to explain why I gave this blog the name aquapages. The problem is that I’ve yet to find the right word to describe how or why I love the ocean. So as I’ve put some thought into the design of this thing, finally, I thought why not post a little snippet of the explanation behind the name and the strange level of interest for someone who isn’t on or in the ocean that much.
I don’t think I could ever live in a place far from an ocean or any body of water that I can look out on. The light-dark-blue-green-black everchanging color calms me, the open space makes anything seem possible as my chest expands and is rid of worry, the endless movement energizes me. It makes me feel entirely too small and too grounded at the same time. I get the same feeling that drives people to look up at the nightsky. But when the nightsky seems the same every night, and my neck gets tired of arching the weight of my head, the ocean always seem to be right in front of me and different from an hour before.
I have never been happier in my life than when I feel my body floating, when all I am able to smell is salt. It eases pain, it’s probably the only time my body is all one temperature because my hands and nose are always too cold. Here in Norway, especially further north, the water is always too cold, too restless, too dangerous. I should curse the ocean, I should stay away and despise it. My mother is afraid of it, even before it took the latest family member. In a family of part-time fishermen more than a handful of people has been taken by the ocean at this point, even if I only know the name of the latest three of them. Still it’s just as dangerous as the beautiful nature here always is, a reminder of what humans never can conquer all of, something that never can be child proof. Small accidents are reminders to not make bigger mistakes. To be a good swimmer. We take our precautions, sometimes, but other times there’s whales – enormous whales, a flock of them, sprouting water from the holes in their back like in the kid’s cartoons and every tiny white plastic or wooden boat is trying to get as close as possible.
Have you ever seen how strange water moves? How sound travel in water? How objects move in water? How when the melted ice that’s river water meets the ocean it creates a weird mix that I’m not entirely too happy about because it’s not salty enough? (More salty water just smells different and tastes different and makes you float better, still people don’t understand my problem with it being less salty.) I can lie just beneath the water surface, sound warped just enough so that I feel isolated from my surroundings – but still aware of what’s happening – and watch the living world underneath me through a scuba mask for hours.
i had a person tell me he wanted to die, last week. that might be an abrupt beginning to this, but he told me very abruptly as well. i was cooking dinner. he was looking to tell someone. and he’d just gotten back for signing up for treatment. he wasn’t the first one who has told me so since i moved here for university, but he was the first one where i had no clue something was wrong. i told him as much, during our hours of conversations since.
but this isn’t about him, it’s some thoughts i’ve had afterwards. on a very personal level i’m glad i feel like a safe person to tell for more than one. on the other hand i’m the absolute worst person to tell because i have no distance or objectivity, having lived with pain and death and pain and death hanging over my head for so long. i tell everyone of them that, scared that i might make things worse by my understanding too much. not that i think i’ve ever really felt the deepest pits of depression.
a big problem with conveying mental health issues is that you need to be a damn good story teller to be able to portray it correctly. this guy’s descriptions and metaphors were vivid and won’t leave my head. whatever i’m feeling i can’t describe as eloquently.
i’m doing great since the move, really. since beginning university. that doesn’t mean i don’t live in a cycle of constant chronic pain because of illness and is tired down to my bones, sometimes. and sometimes lonely. today it’s because i really need someone who understands me and feels safe to hold around me and i haven’t yet found that here. i will, eventually.
I was going go write a normal bi-weekly update, but I just don’t have the time. Maybe I’ll incorporate this into it. I’m two days into university after spending the last three weeks moving, on my own. There’s sooo many changes. I share a kitchen with fifteen people, all of them really nice so far, if pretty shy. I’m surrounded by other physics & maths nerds and – two days in – nothing else seems to be important but those two subjects. Except drinking, of course. My feet are literally bleeding. The last two boxes that I’ve yet to move from the post office has all my rain clothes and I’ve been soaking wet the past two days. We’re having an introduction week socially and with subjects, meaning I’m running from school to home, quickly catching up with new friends here, back to school, then to some random house and then out (mostly partying so far). We’re all so adorably introverted that I seem like an outgoing social person in comparison to most. It’s such interesting people though. I just ended the night talking to three math students about the most geeky shit, some that went way above my head. My feet and back and everything really hurt, I feel like an old person, after so much running around and trying to figure things out. I love getting to know so many welcoming people, but I have no quiet private moments that I don’t desperately need to sleep/cook/eat. And even with the last two I rarely do so alone.
I’m moving. I wondered whether to post this or just keep it to myself, but why not. I’m currently publishing this from a six hours busride to the new city. I both love and hate this place I’m leaving behind, which makes everything so much more difficult. I’m reminded of Mary Oliver’s poems about her hometown, where she continually goes back in her mind to her love for the nature, but also she escaped into the nature – reading poetry collections in the forest – to get away from the awful parts. Also the italic parts are the ones you’re definitely allowed to skip because this is a roller coaster.
My grandpa was very ill when we made the choice to move five years ago, to this village in a valley with a thousand people living here. The reason we moved wasn’t because he was ill, but the connection to him and this place was why we moved here. And then – in the summer between the decision and the move – he died. My grandpa was a man who went through hardships in his life, including having his leg amputated after illness. Still, he also always seemed larger than anyone he was standing in front of. He wasn’t born in the valley village, but right across the deep ‘fjords’, on a mountain farm only accessible by boat.
When my grandpa was a child during WW2 his family hid politicans from the nazis in the area. It was a combined effort from multiple farms, but ours had a great & useful escape plan because of the mountain layout. One politician in particular made an impact on him, with the way he carried himself and spoke. That politican looks quite similar to the man my grandpa would become, going from leading the factory workers campaign to being the mayor and then getting better hospitals built in the district.
When we moved I spent one year in the village full-time, being very active in the community, before I started high-school in the city and chose to commute an hour each way by a tiny bus instead of moving straight away like most 16-year-olds did. And I continued to live there and commute one hour each way for the next four years.
What everyone asks me about: Isn’t commuting to school and waking up at 5 am every day fucking exhausting?
What I say: *insert one of five different standard answers, because i’m really bored of this question*. What I want to say: I really really really want this education and is willing to do anything for it, I already moved from across the country for this reason, I don’t think you understand. I learned my limits though – can’t sleep less than five hours three days in a row, or sleep only five hours all weekdays and expect to be functioning during the weekend. Also the lack of sleep is probably damaging in the long run, but I’ve not looked into the science behind this on purpose.
The commute took three different buses, meaning you never got to sleep for the whole hour. The worst period was when my joints were so bad that standing up and walking off the bus after half an hour was pure torture, not to mention half-jog to the next one. I really should’ve had crutches, but I never knew if my wrists or knees would be more locked up. But it hasn’t been that bad – I like daydreaming/reading/sleeping/creating stories while looking out on the beautiful nature on my commute. It does really dig into the time I have to study and other activities though, which is where the lack of sleep comes in.
I’m not the first in my family that commuted. At the beginning of this year I found a book mentioning how my greatgrandparents used to commute an hour and a half to elementary school from the family mountain farm across the ‘fjords’ – by fishing boat. The waters here are treacherous too often, so applause to them.
What I wished was the NR 1 problem in this village:
We don’t have any sun in my village for FIVE MONTHS from october to march. The tall mountains of the valley block any chance of seeing sunlight and it’s more depressing than you can imagine. It’s not like it isn’t dark enough up north during winter. My grandma hated it too, and she was from even further north, where the nights can be even longer.
What’s actually the NR 1 problem in this village:
As much as I’ve found community in parts of this village, with incredible adults behind them, I’ve found the darkest evil hatred as well here. In such a small community one person can do a lot of good, as well as a lot of bad. I got on the wrong side of one of the bad ones. And then – because it’s such a small town – each person has their own relationship and view of these people and then it takes a lot to try to change people’s minds or make them see the parts you’re seeing. I’ve done it for a few people. But then it’s not always worth it, and if you meet the wrong person, suddenly the target on your back has grown. There’s also a lot of willful ignorance here as well, besides the evil. The bullying is really bad. People are targeted and harassed for pointing it out to outside authorities. People’s lives are destroyed over it. More ignorance is spread as the kids in general internalize the culture. People who’s not grown up here is told they don’t belong here, also straight-out at community events. Because who’s here to reprimand them?
So I’m finally leaving, and I hope I can return and again see beauty here sometime
I don’t agree with how this village is run. I can appreciate the nature of it, the wildness and the history both I personally and my family has with it. But living here made me see something I didn’t when I came here on holidays and vacations – the corrupted unmoral souls of some of the people in charge. It makes some sense, the lack of people to double-check your decisions makes it easier to get away with being mean and unfair, until it grows into abusing your power outright and there being no system to rein it in because they either dissolved them or never set them up.
Sometimes I want to scream from the treetops what this village has done. To itself. To who knows how many people (I’ve heard a handful of tragic stories, who knows how many more there are). Or maybe it’s just a few bad people, but then the rest of us have kept our mouths shut long enough for them to gather that power, some too afraid of the consequences, some thinking it just doesn’t affect them. Staying quiet is like poison slowly working itself into everyone’s system until you don’t notice that it affects how you think and behave, until it seems like the only good choice.
My grandpa was never one to keep quiet about injustice. But I had to, to survive here as a teenager from the outside looking at all these youths who won’t know before they leave how unormal their surroundings are and hoping, crossing my fingers hoping, they’ve not internalized one too many bad lessons. I’m all for having small communities that can give safe enviroments to grow up in, or so I thought. But I don’t know how this village turned into what it now is, while also pretending and promoting how inclusive they are and making safe homes for children. I haven’t seen this type of evil until I came here.
I do really love the calm of this place and wondered long if I was going to be one of those people who just … stayed. Or left, but never really left, returning every weekend and eventually settling down with one of the few jobs here once they’ve gotten their degree. This all might sound dramatic, but typing all this out it feels more of an understatement. Giving out any details feels dangerous because I’ve felt the backlash during my time here. But also whatever I write doesn’t convey the ice-cold emptiness I usually feel instead of rage, because there’s this nagging self-doubting comments of “what did you really expect by speaking up”? as I pass the person who’s hurt me the most, for the first time in two years on a narrow street a sunday evening, both staring straight ahead.