"Takk for I day, thank you for today," Jan Erik says at 6:30 pm as he turns off the lights. Olivier wears his cycling clothes and the lights are flashing brightly. It's just under -10 degrees outside, a fine temperature to bike the 10 kilometers home. Most of it is uphill so we warm up gradually. Olivier bikes to Zoe's work in the main street and waits at the door. If we work on the same days, we bike home together. The whole trip, cycling 10 kilometers and walking one kilometer, takes about an hour. A little after 7:30 pm, we are home. Olivier makes dinner while Zoë lights the stove. At half past eight, we can finally eat in the rocking chair in front of the fireplace. Tired, but satisfied.
Zoë's days in January are filled with work in the outdoor sports store. It's more than the three days a week we envision, but next month it will probably be fewer days. Olivier works on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. They are half days which is just a little short, but with him February gets busier. On average the picture is right and also financially it is enough this month. What comes in next month we don't know yet. That regularly causes anxiety although until now there is always enough income in one way or another. It is a balance between the desire to have a secure income and daring to trust that things will work out.
In early December, when we had a tough time, Olivier said he had better have a job before we left for Norway. "The websites were right. Leaving without preparation almost always goes wrong," he said then. Zoë didn't want to hear it and was still convinced that we followed the right path.
A month later, Olivier agrees with her. We chose the path that suited us, the adventurous path with uncertainty and challenge. To get started, we looked for a flexible job where we had to speak a lot of Norwegian. We both found those and the job actually pays off much more than we thought it would. Both the outdoor sports store and BUA have so many local people coming in. We get to know faces and people get to know us. Our work is not only good for our Norwegian, it is above all good for our network. And in Norway that is the most important asset of all. Applying for a job without knowing anyone is almost hopeless. Laughingly, Norwegians sometimes say that you can only find a partner through your network. Our world trip was a chain with new links that got connected by all the people we met. The search for Basecamp-X is a new chain that keeps getting longer. The path we have chosen is the right path. Usually we don't know that until afterwards, but daring to trust that is the greatest strength. Thank you Zoë!
Sometime in late January, Zoë says, "I feel more and more at home here and miss less and less from the Netherlands." When we left for Scandinavia last year, we compared everything to the Netherlands. The prices, the cycling culture, how the people are, the friendliness in villages, the outdoor culture, the weather, the winters, you name it. It was always better somewhere, either in the Netherlands or Norway. When we got pictures of people in T-shirts on the terrace in early March, we were shivering on our bikes at -10 degrees. We had pulled our roots from the Netherlands, carried them on the back of our bikes, but had not yet put them in the ground in a new place. The old ground felt safer and sometimes better. Learning to let go is what it's called.
Now, almost a year later, we have planted our roots near Lillehammer. That's what Zoë means when she says she feels more and more at home. We can let go of the Netherlands and be grateful for everything we have here. No comparing where it is better, but being happy with what is here. Oh how nice that is!
Yet we dare not completely fix our roots. The biggest uncertainty remains our own place. We are renting a dream spot, but after Easter we will be on the road again. How are we going to find our own place if we are not there? Everyone says we need to be much more patient, but we can hardly manage that. It seems we have to get our basecamp now. Again, it is our world trip that helps us. We saved for four years to go on a world trip and then traveled for four years. Now we are less than a year into our search for our own place. Why must there be such a rush when it is at least as big a project as our world trip. It is on a beautiful morning when we are outside chopping wood that the penny drops with Zoë. We know very well what we are looking for: a small house surrounded by forest, within biking distance of a store and friends. That is not easy to find, but like our chain of contacts, we must dare to trust that it will work out. That is our path.