It isn't, really, because I have a two year leave, leaving myself the option to turn around and come back to this hideout between the mountains. This hole, my sister so lovingly describes Volda as, and she's right, it is a hole in which to hide, a sudden green spot in between black mountains. And I have been crawling back into it over and over again over the last 19 years, hiding in between my expeditions into the world.
Somehow, living in Volda, the distinction between "real" and "virtual" world feels meaningless. What's real about living here? It's so secluded, so filled with its own rules, concerns and moving by its own rythm that living in the flesh world of Volda is like living in a virtual world. The insane beauty of the place, combined with the ruthless weather, the heavy darkness and the dreariness of the third month of rain and sleet, it turns Volda into something on the flip-side of other flesh world realities. At the same time - this is it. This is the reality, because reality is made up of a million little spots like this, places of heartbreaking beauty and equally numbing mundaneity, spread like random handfuls of marbles all over the planet.
The distinction between places is more than anything, a state of mind, and somehow I suspect the Volda state of mind won't stay behind. There's a tale in Norway, about the man who got into a fight with his house "nisse", the otherworld power living on his farm, traditionally bound to the land. At the end he gave up, sold the farm and moved. Among his stuff, however, the nisse was happily singing "we're moving today."
There are parts of Volda I hope I'll never leave behind. The easy assumption that people care, the sudden closeness in times of need, the long-term strategies to protect and care for the community, those are all some of the best qualities of small-town life. And there is a nisse I really hope doesn't come with me: the pettiness, the lack of generousity towards that which is unknown, the selfish scheming, the xenophobia. Sadly, I suspect that I'll find that wherever I go, that part of human nature was there before me.
As for the college? I have loved and hated this place for 19 years. I really need to work somewhere else, at least for a while, if I want to stretch and develop beyond my own comfort zone. But I am not fleeing. I am making a strategic move, keeping the lines of retreat open. Yep, sounds much better that way.
And now the bookshelves are slowly emptying. As I write, I have barely finished F. I have quite a few boxes to go. I'll get there though, and then me and my boxes and my past will move from this early-70ies built-quickly-and-cheaply crooked box into the glass-and-steel high modernity of ITU. Oh my.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
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