I pressed my nose against the glass and watched the ridges of the mountains go up and down like a heart rate monitor, as Fred drove us far too fast than I was comfortable with. The contour of the never ending fjords undulated as the pale sky carved into the rocks. Fred was driving us to his temporary home, for his temporary work all the way up north of Norway by the Arctic Circle. It was nearly one in the morning but I was still wide awake despite twenty hours of traveling. It was foggy outside and the sky was milky and opaque. The sun strung itself high in the sky with such force and tenderness.
My head had always been in the clouds, but finally I could live in one. They dipped so low that they hugged the mountains and grazed the grass. It was my favourite weather because I felt as if I was living in a reverie, and only an earthquake could shake me out of it.
I spent these days lying in the sun, walkin on the islands, and catching up on television. Though I thirsted to create, my friends told me to stay still and enjoy the fresh air. I was so used to listening to background noise of cars and chatter during the past year of living in Seoul, but now I could finally immerse myself in my own thoughts devoid of interruptions.
The change was still too much for me to process—my calendar now was empty and in turn I felt a sense of loss. My mind told me to keep moving, but my body protested. On these islands, I was limited by my own two feet. So Instead, I laid outside and listened to the sound of the water lapping the rocks.
On one of Fred’s day off, we decided to go camping, as I had never camped before. The closest I had gone to camping was a sleepover in a tent in my friend’s backyard when I was ten. We woke up to an army of ants crawling on top of the tent. I decided that there was no need for me to camp again and spent the next hour watching the shadows of the little critters streak across our polyester sky.
We took a ferry to an island thirty minutes away, and began hiking up to the top of the peak. After two hours, we reach the other side and found ourselves situated between two beaches facing back-to-back. After taking a look around and inspecting the grounds, we finally settled on a spot and pitched our one-man tent. I cleaned our utensils in the clear salt water and watched Fred create a fire from afar. The colours of the fire reminded me of the first night I hung out with him; we were in a bar at two in the morning drinking whiskey and beer. While he was speaking to a friend, I could not help but become transfixed by him, admiring his face glowing from the candle light. That was the night that I decided he was mine.
It became chilly, so we crawled back into the tent and prepared for bed. The sleeping bag clung to my legs which were laced with mosquito bites. Fred wrapped his arms around me and we laid quietly under the midnight sun. The world was silent except for our synchronised breathing. I watched the spiders and caterpillars nestle into the crevices of the tent, and concluded that camping wasn’t so bad after all.
We woke up early on a Tuesday and packed my newly bought suitcase, duffel bag, and backpack into the car for a two hour drive to the airport. It was time to spend the next few months in Sweden, where I would complete an artist residency with fellow artists. I felt nervous in anticipation of another transition, but excited for the opportunity to grow my work. This was my chance to show everyone what I’ve been wanting to say, an opportunity to manifest my thoughts and feelings into tangible art for others to experience.
I looked at Fred and felt nervous again; this was our fifth time meeting at an airport, an unfortunate side effect of being in an international relationship. We had already spent months apart before I came to Norway, and now we will have to spend months apart again. At least the next time we meet will be in my home city of San Francisco.