Friday, July 22, 2011

On Oslo

Jumping ahead for, well, obvious reasons. I cannot get Oslo out of my head. I've been obsessively checking twitter and newsfeeds for information, something with which to cobble some sense out of this senseless situation. The best that can be construed is that it was a random act of insanity by a man of extreme right-wing beliefs. Not an immigrant or Muslim (the conclusion many immediately stampeded to), a strapping young fellow with the chiseled blond handsomeness so common in Norway, someone you would pass on the street without giving a second glance (or would, if so inclined). Someone who, if his facebook page is to be believed, enjoyed True Blood and World of Warcraft. Someone who, upon looking at him, you would not guess that inside he had the wherewithal to throw an entire city into chaos or murder scores of kids trapped on an island.

Truth be told, when I was in Oslo a month ago, it did not resonate with me. The museums are incredible, the people pleasant and polite, and yet I was left cold. I balked at the sky-high prices for even the most mundane of dishes and was disappointed by the huge but conventional shopping centers. It's not a fair assessment of the city, I know. Had we seen more of it, I'm sure I would have been won over. But at the time, if I saw Helsinki as a kooky, vibrant artist mama welcoming me to hang out, Oslo was a wealthy dowager who never dressed in anything other than formal gowns, every hair perfectly in place. However, the events taking place today have shown me that the grande dame is so much more than that, a reminder that she can handle any situation that comes her way with grace, dignity, generosity, and bravery.

Her people are truly special. I cannot help but remember the young woman who perched herself perilously between a dock and high platform to fish Catherine's Oslo pass out of the water when it had slipped through her fingers. The businessman who grinned impishly at me through the window upon seeing me take a comically large bite of an unwieldy sandwich. The raucous kids heading in a line toward the Folkesmuseum, proving that children all over the world are pretty much the same. I look back and see that Oslo is an amazing place, one I wish I had better appreciated when I was there.

My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with the people of Norway. May you find peace and comfort in this terrible time.


Anonymous said...

You are right; it truly was a shock that anything like that would ever happen in Norway. Violence is not very common here as it is in other countries, so we are not used to thinking of threats. I mean; even the police force don´t even have guns here! This is why nobody believed what was happing when it actually accord and people were slow to respond. But now the protective forces are being trained to handle different types of bad activity... Sad that this should be necessary.

Anonymous said...

And I agree; Oslo is not a nice city to be a tourist in, but it´s actually nice living there... Outside of the city centre though...

Going to Norway you need to visit the cities near the coast and by the beaches, the fiords and mountains.