01 Feb Living between two worlds
I used to wonder how people who have affairs do it. You know, how they compartmentalise their lives – especially when they claim to be in love with two people at once. Now, as someone who fell in love and moved abroad for love, I sometimes feel like that cheating spouse. This is because although I live in Oslo, in so many ways my heart belongs to my hometown of London.
In 2010, I fell in love with a Norwegian. We met in London. After a whirlwind romance, we married exactly a year later, in Ethiopia, of all places. Then we moved to Norway, had a daughter (now four) and have lived here ever since.
I know that the life I left behind in London no longer exists. And I know that the London I left behind also no longer exists. Not only because of political upheaval, but also because of the inevitable passing of time. I’m no longer that 30-something girl living in the flat with green stained glass door (in fact, 40 is nipping at my heels). Yet still, each time I visit it’s though I’m having a love affair with London.
The last time I went back, I stole some time to pound the pavements of my old haunts, just to try and remember who I am as a Londoner. I realise that you not only form relationships with the people in a city, but with a city itself. The bric-a-brac of London: the cafes, the sights, and the mass energy was something I communed with on a daily basis.
I was born in London, and save for a year-long stint in the Caribbean as a child, it has been my home ever since. Until now, that is. Each time I visit, I go home to Oslo, home to my little family, and to their love and hugs. And each time, I plan and plot my next trip to my other love.
If you want to learn how to swim, you have to immerse yourself in the water, and not just dip your toes in. And I know that feeling stuck between two worlds is exacerbated by me not having learned the Norwegian language. I understand a lot, but getting the words out is difficult I also don’t want to lose my identity, and this is something I talk about in my post A mother’s tongue.
So for now, I’ll flit between the two, knowing that both places will always be in my heart.