After returning to America, I found accepting that the world had not come to a tragic and abrupt end to be somewhat of a perplexing endeavor (hence the long absence). Not to be dramatic or anything, but, I was dead inside, however in a really captivating way that would have you considering necrophilia. I like to think of myself as a “Masochistic Narcissist” I’ve been known to seek out sadness and then allow it to consume me – but in a really cinematic and dramatically pleasing way. You know, like, really utilizing my surroundings IE: writing in front of a rain-soaked window while playing some cliché sad music in the background (At the time, I had been favoring Bastille’s ‘Oblivion’. It really emotes a strong feeling of imminent doom while at the same time – Bonus – hints at an early death) I feel like most people haven’t really tapped into their full sadness potential yet, you need to dig a little deeper; there is a darkness and despair there that you just haven’t reached. And as a troubled wise person once said: It’s never too late to give up. Because I wasn’t depressed enough during my last week, I insisted that the Belgian and I descend a couple hundred feet underground to explore the mass grave that is Les Catacombes de Paris. (There was a big group of Americans that were humming the Indiana Jones theme song the entire time.) Six million-ish skeletons buried directly under my home in Cité Universitaire. I’m a romantic, what can I say?
Now, I can assure you that I handled my transition back into real life with the utmost immaturity. Have you ever tried to convince a stubborn toddler that it was time to go to bed? Or more accurately have you ever needed to employ brute force with a toddler throwing a temper tantrum to put them to bed? Reality and I had a bit of a disagreement when I didn’t feel it was quite time to come back down to earth. Opportunities to literally live in your own personal dream come true don’t come along for everyone, so I shouldn’t complain about mine being over, I shouldn’t; but I’m going to. Be careful what you wish for because it just might end. Please don’t get the wrong idea; of course I love my country. It’s just that, America: It’s not you, it’s me. Paris was everything that you would hope Paris to be. Ohhh, what can it mean? Like a daydream believer and homecoming queen’s first whirlwind romance it meant that saying goodbye was the worst broken heart, like, ever (and that’s saying something because I’ve dated a lot of douchebags) My prolonged unwillingness to move on had a simple yet screaming explanation: it never actually occurred to me that my time in Paris would come to an end. Apparently any scholarly individual who is familiar with the calendar year also now believes in this newfound notion that as I understand, is called: ‘The Passage of Time’ (I don’t know what they’re trying to teach kids in school nowadays. A liberal hoax, if ever I’ve heard one.) This abstract idea that at some point the sun would consecutively raise a certain amount of times thereby marking that my time in Paris had ended. Wayyyyy over my head.
Looking back I am rather proud of the level of denial I had cultivated surrounding my eventual departure. If the mind can repress harmful moments in the past why shouldn’t it then have the ability to preemptively repress harmful thoughts in the future (That is, without the use of a DeLorean. Side note: Is the opposite of repress – wrinkle?). Just bear with me here, this paragraph makes perfect sense if you think about it like a crazy person. Every time I would stop to savor a moment or take in a view, I assume my mind was taking that opportunity to little by little build up cognitive blinders on either side of my eyes. I encouraged the blocking out of mundane momentary distractions (on top of my Adderall prescription) to better ‘live in the moment’ but I believe I was inadvertently arming myself with invisible binoculars that shielded from reminders of reality as well. So you could imagine the slightly excessive melancholy coma that I sank into with the bitter realization that I was no longer living in my euphoric Parisian Wonderland. The streets were no longer untied Chanel ribbons that upon following were met with the smell of freshly baked bread and stale urine; where appreciation for your fellow man shined through every unjustified passing scowl; and where each impeccably dressed citizen took pride in not only their appearance but also in the belittling of others for the greater good. Those were my people. That was my home. And what did I have to look forward to here…Freedom? The belief that all men are created equal and those certain unalienable rights Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are self-evident? Pssh, where is the Parisian haughty distain? Where are the French illusions of grandeur? I miss Paris…
I have stayed in contact with Glenn the Belgian, but much more so with Sigurd the Norwegian (‘Sigurd the Norwegian’ doesn’t that just sound like a Nordic fable?). So the Norwegian has been attending medical school in Poland this past year, which I suppose, yeah, is a tad remarkable and intimidating considering I couldn’t have located Poland on a map a year ago (don’t worry, today I’m confident I could point it out with only 3 or 4 guesses). Annoyingly enough he can now add Polish to his frustratingly long list of foreign language proficiencies (Oh please, get in line. I’m sure lots of other people’s number is in the double-digits as well) Sigurd spent his summer after Paris backpacking around Europe (whereas my first 2-200ish weeks back were spent wallowing in a melodramatic self-induced emo paralysis). He had written me a dozen or so beautiful letters and postcards of his travels all in French. I have tried to keep up with my French but am ashamed to admit my responses were in no way as poetic as his. Everyone who has seen these postcards is certain he’ll be an amazing doctor (besides each of them being in a foreign language) because no one else can decipher his handwriting.
In the past year we’ve exchanged a couple thousand emails. Lucky for me Poland is nine hours ahead and his brutal class schedule for the most part occurs while I’m sleeping; and even luckier for me, his none-existent sleep schedule occurs while I’m wide awake and ready to electronically complain about my day. It took a little bit of time but through my subtle use of blackmail, unbridled threats, and just your run-of-the-mill violent hostage/ransom negotiations; I was able to help him realize that the best use of his December vacation was not to return to Norway to spend the holidays with his family, but instead, obviously, to fly out to Seattle and spend Christmas with me. Le Duh! (That’s French for Duh).
I was sooooooo excited to see him again, I had been counting down the days foreverrrrr. The last thing I said to him before he left Poland was “I’ll meet you at baggage claim. I’ll be the tall blonde being escorted away by security for making a scene”. I was holding a sign with the timeless French phrase ‘Bienvenue Putain’ (which means ‘Welcome Whore’) and wore a big white poufy tutu to pick him up; strategically selected because it was the closest thing I could find that resembled a wedding dress (I even toyed with the idea of writing ‘Just Friends’ on my car’s back window. Of course I’m probably kidding, but, I digress…) I knew none of this would even faze him because our friendship was founded on me going out of my way to try to freak him out.
A couple weeks before I had flown to France I went to see a psychic just for a laugh. I was expecting a lot of foggy predictions or just various fortune-cookie catchphrases being theatrically voiced aloud. But to my surprise he ended up being strangely, frighteningly, correct about a lot of things – one of them being my current health predicament. He went off on a lot of spirited tangents that my A.D.D. inflicted mind couldn’t always follow but one sentence that stayed with me was the phrase “You are the Princess before the Dragon” (Whatever the eff that means?) The week before I met Sigurd I had been complaining to my friend Logan, who is a Classics/Legends/Mythology major about my numerous ex-boyfriends’ shortcomings. Logan told me that I needed to meet a guy like “Siegfried”. Alright, but, um, isn’t he gay? No, not that one. He then told me the Germanic legend about Siegfried – How he slayed a dragon and walked through a lake of fire to save his true love. He mentioned that the story has many similar versions depending on where in Europe it was told – “For example, in Norway it’s the story of ‘Sigurd’.” (Pssh, what kind of person would name their kid Sigurd?) So when the Norwegian introduced himself I had a heart attack (If there are any 13 year old girls reading this – it was just like living in that classic Demi Lovato song). And when he started talking about the dragon tattoo (not actually lame) that he was going to get I had another heart attack. After we started hanging out we watched the film ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ at his suggestion (Which was fun to watch a movie so historically accurate based in his homeland. It’s crazy to think that just a few centuries ago at his age he’d have already slain, like, a dozen dragons. But, I digress…) Anyways, the psychic, and Logan for that matter, sort of predicted that I was going to meet him. Poor thing, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
Clearly America had been just as excited for his arrival as I was because every other article of clothing in fashion had some Nordic-inspired pattern (I bought quite a few of these items just so I could casually throw on a quintessential Norwegian sweater and be like, yeah, I’ve always had this); the obnoxious song ‘What does the Fox Say?’ written by Norwegian brothers had just gone viral; and thanks to the release of Disney’s ‘Frozen’ a few weeks before it seemed like everywhere you looked Norway had a peculiar yet very well-timed omnipresence. My nieces Maddie and Emma were obsessed with the film, so for Christmas I gave them both dolls of the main characters (Just what you’ve always wanted, your very own Norwegian man) along with the advice: Everyone is entitled to one Norwegian, so use it wisely.
I had a thousand things planned and took him around to all of the obligatory Seattle tourist spots. And because I was so full of the Christmas spirit in addition to my already magnanimous charitable nature, I lied and drove us to a rock climbing gym so he could get his bro on instead of having to sit through the Nutcracker ballet. Attention Readers: Prepare your best flabbergasted expressions… I actually participated! (What! Yeah, you read that correctly.) Climbing walls are difficult for me but not for the reason one might expect; the technical aspect is actually pretty easy thanks to my ridiculously long monkey limbs (Oh the irony, this is a skill I’d happily trade because I have no desire to utilize it). The difficultly lies strictly in vanity, in your mind’s awareness of what your body looks like while performing the exercise – you have to pose the whole time! The gentleman that you’re with has no choice but to stare at your backside in order to direct you to the next peg; therefore you need to be cognizant of whether or not it’s a flattering angle, on top of the actual climbing portion of the experience. Not to mention the strain of trying to keep a relaxed expression on your face. It was fun but it’s not something that I crave the way he does. Sigurd is to climbing as Kelly is to wine (and whining, for that matter).
Have you ever found yourself in Ballard fretting over not having met your Norwegian quota for the day? Might I suggest hitting up ‘Bergen Place Park’ named after Bergen, Norway; one of Seattle’s ‘Sister Cities’ and Sigurd’s hometown. According to The Google; the park was dedicated on October 19th 1975 by none other than King Olaf of Norway to validate the connection between our two cities. This goes without saying but the only rational conclusion one can draw from this is that by International Royal Decree: Sigurd and I were meant to be together 13 years before either of us were even born! I mean, it’s like a law, it’s on a plaque! There is also a store in Ballard next to the Nordic Heritage Museum called ‘Scandinavian Specialties’ where I stocked up on Gudbrandsdalsost (A delicious Norwegian cheese that he had let me try while in Paris) along with every holiday-themed Norwegian item that I could fit in my car. I was trying to integrate a little bit of his culture into my family’s holiday traditions (which, let’s be honest, primarily consist of Ping-Pong, passive aggressive comments, drinking, and an endless palpable silence while washing dishes). While there I came across a baby onesie that read ‘Made in America with Norwegian Parts’ which I almost bought for my mom to open on Christmas morning.
As far as his Christmas gift was concerned I wanted to find something that was classically elegant yet disturbingly creepy. His favorite pastimes are still camping and rock climbing (Which I had been hoping was a phase. I’d rather they were wine tasting and gazing into my eyes, but whatever) I ended up having an old-fashioned silver compass engraved with his initials and the message: ‘Sigurd, you would be lost without me. – Kelly’ (I know, so clever. And it’s the perfect heirloom to pass down to our grandchildren). Mind you that was not the first phrase I came up with, I also wanted to use: ‘You can run but you can never hide from me’ and ‘No matter what happens, I will always be following you’.
I had warned/threatened the family before he arrived that no one was to solicit free medical advice and I never once wanted to hear the phrase ‘Hey Sigurd, does this look infected to you?’ For the most part everyone behaved themselves, I mean, everyone still spent a majority of the time trying to embarrass me but despite this, miraculously, I only regretted inviting him 7 or 8 thousand times. The worst moment was when all twelve of my ‘Family’ (angry air quotes) started singing Christmas carols at the table. Of course he loved it because he’s an asshole and will always revel in my humiliation (though I am the same way, which is why we’re sooooooo compatible). Instead of participating in the joyous singing I just stared at my steak knife contemplating whether or not to take myself or both of us out.
The little girls loved him and were forever running up to show him the pictures they had drawn on their IPads (Pssh paper is so passé to kids these days). Now because I am a mature adult I wasn’t jealous that he was playing with them and not me (hehe I can’t even type that with a straight face), though on a primal level the three of us were constantly at odds for his attention but they had the advantage. Apparently it’s not ‘socially acceptable’ every time he’d walk into the room for me (as a 20-something) to jump up and down, gleefully yell, and hang on his legs like a child when their father finally gets home from work in the evenings.
He’s my best friend but we know that we aren’t the people who could make each other happy in the long run – the simple fact being that we would kill each other. We are too similar and yet have nothing in common at the same time. I feel like it all comes down to how you want to spend your Sunday morning: He’d like to wake up early and hike that mountain, whereas I would like to wake up early and do anything but hike that mountain. Not that the thought of dozens of red-headed children wreaking havoc and swearing at me in Norwegian hasn’t crossed my mind; but I’d say we have more of a brother/sister relationship in the deep south of Louisiana than a lasting platform for breeding. Let it be known that this awareness doesn’t mean that I’m emotionally evolved enough to not put a gypsy curse on whomever his eventual bride turns out to be, bitch.