I am not made to be social

«How come you do not have friends over?» was the question she asked me.

Honestly? Because I’m too tired to be social. My work is so socially intense that the last thing on my mind when coming home is having people over. It completely drains whatever energy I have left. And when weekend comes along, I’d often rather be left alone. Alone with my child, a good TV documentary or a long walk/bikeride.

I spoke about this (social life) with one of my friends the other day. Our social relationship doesn’t revolve around social gatherings at each others houses drinking coffee and talking about people we know and do not know. No, we are social on the football pitch – talking football, discussing light matters that both are comfortable with. We don’t need more than that for our friendship to work. It is, in fact, the only thing we need. With other friends I have other «deals». Sports, music, drinking, online discussions. I don’t need more. I don’t want more. I don’t want to sit around with my brother doing nothing than talking. No, with my brother I go on bike rides talking about Strava. That’s all that I need. Or go to England in July discussing aviation.

I come from a house (where I used to live) where there was no huge social activities going on. The odd visits from my parents, maybe some people over now and again. Not often at all. Maybe no more than once a month. I was pleased with this. It meant I could recharge my draining batteries. I understand now that I was extremely lucky considering how my energy levels drop like a stone these days. It fit me perfectly. Perfectly. I like to endulge myself into my hobbies and thoughts, not to sit around talking with others at all times.

A social life is not something everyone needs or wants. I like my friends, I enjoy their company, but from time to time I often find online friends where I can simply type up a few sentences and have a proper conversation much more convenient. Where I don’t need to continusly try to make up conversation topics (of most which usually bore me). It is more straight to the point, more honest and more relaxing.

It is often the undefined and the things you are not aware of that comes and suckerpunches you. The dramatic increase in my social life is exactly that. I am just someone that have to go along with this ride and adapt. A Mother and father-in-laws (two mother-in-laws actually), her friends here and there – people over, people staying for too long too my taste. Sometimed 16 hours of non-stop socializing. It wears me completely out.

I am not made to be that social. Not in this field of work.

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Do not attack the core of me

We ended up in a heated discussion the other day. In front of parts of her family. I just couldn’t help it. Enough is enough. I could not tolerate her attitude towards computers and social media like it’s all the devil works. Like nothing about it is positive. I know where she got it from (her mother) and I know her level of knowledge of this subject (none).  I was pissed because she buggered into a subject she knew nothing about, and I was pissed because she even had the nerve to suggest I lacked friends because of the internet. I was pissed because she suddenly tried to put words into my mouth, and be the judge of things she knew nothing about. In fact, I am still pissed off, but I try to act content. The self restraint I have to be in charge of when she sets out in one of her uneducated and prejudice rants towards the internet and social media is beyong anything I have ever experienced in this matter before.

I know she’s wrong, and I have the data and the research to back it up – but she won’t listen. And when she makes it personal, I explode. I can’t handle it. I have always lived under the rule of not trying to have strong opinions on subjects I know little about –  but rather learn about it before talking and having an opinion.

But there’s more to it than that. With everything unravelling in 2016-2017 I lost much of myself. With this relationship I have gained so much, but I am holding for dear life onto what makes me being me. I lost one dog and partly another dog due to all these circumstances. My greatest interests have taken severe blows. My interest in music is being attacked (and I feel it is almost being mocked) yet again by opinions of the uneducated. My interest in history is present, but not understood – only accepted.

Football is not understood. I have explained that football is part of my social life. There’s very little coffee and sofa conversations in my life as part of my social life – it is often found through an activity. Football, aircraft, music. I have explained this several times.

I have told her several times I am not typical local or Norwegian even – I am through the internet and past experiences – international. She referred to both her ex boyfriend and her sisters boyfriend to underline her argument that it is more normal to have social life where people “stop by”. But, I don’t want them to stop by. I work in such a social job that I want time off being social. And simply to use an ex boyfriend to underline a point is not what I consider good behavior. But now I’m venturing off topic.

I think one of the main reasons why I react so vividly to these types of opinions about social media and the internet is because I am fighting for the core of myself. What I am. I am not to loose anything else that defines me as a person and what I am. I have lost enough as a it is, a complete change from 2015 to 2019. Four years. A complete change. I don’t want to loose anything more of what I was. I want only to gain, not to loose. Many of my biggest achievements have come through the internet. I am extremely proud of my achievements, and if they come under attack I will respond with all guns blazing. Do not touch them.

Does she really know me?

I’ve been with her for 1,5 years now. Going on two full years. It’s not a lot, maybe, but time is more precious once you grow older – and you try to do a lot more with less time at your disposal. You sort of stop and suddenly realize that time is not infinte – you actually see a start, a middle and an end to it all. However, I’m already drifting off course.

I am sometimes wondering how well she actually knows me, and how much she actually tries to get to know me. Does she actually show an interest in me and my interests/hobbies? Does she support me in my doings (and wrongdoings)? Does she actually understand who I am? I am tempted to say; no.

She doesn’t understand aviation and my interest in aviation. She doesn’t ask about it, or show any interest in it. She doesn’t really need to understand, I don’t need much, but I do need her to accept it.

She doesn’t know anything about my taste in music, and shows no interest in digging into my archives of music. She doesn’t know that my knowledge of certain bands stretches incredibly far. She doesn’t want to listen to my music, and doesn’t ask about my music.

She doesn’t want to know about my interest in the paranormal. She gets upset when I speak about UFOs, and gets embaressed when I mention it. Embaressed as in thinking it’s all nonsense. She gets faith mixed up in the interest of mysteries and the paranormal and even I’m the one with the knowledge I’m still being treated like someone with no clue.

There’s so much I could tell her – teach her – but she just don’t want to listen to me.

She doesn’t like certain TV shows – I haven’t even bothered, but I know she would hate a show like The Curse of Oak Island (I love mysteries). She hates Sci-Fi, and when I try to argue that Star Wars is actually a lot like Fantasy but in space (she likes Fantasy for some reason I don’t get since she hates Sci-Fi) she gets annoyed. When I say The Handmaids Tale (we both love it) could be defined as Sci-Fi is you stretch the term a little – she objects vividly.

How well does she actually know me? She doesn’t. And I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to understand why I like certain subjects. Why so narrow-minded? Why so set in her ways? If she plays a song, I listen. When I play a song, her mind wanders off.

Does she know the name of my fave football team? My favorite TV show? My favorite city? Why I love aviation so much?

I don’t know.

I just don’t understand. She can get to know me and my interests in so many ways, and it’s like she chooses not to. Why?

A letter to my two dogs

To the first one,

You know, I can’t believe it’s been six years since we got you. I was never too keen on having a dog, but when she asked me if we could bring you into our household, I immediately said yes. And from then on and for two years it was just us three. I felt so sorry for many switches in owners, and put you into bed at night to make you feel wanted. It’s a horrible mix and misunderstand of human and dog emotions, but I wanted to tell you that from here on out we would take care of you. You were always so kind to me. You showed me trust and love. You had no hesitations in accepting me as your new owner. I remember walking you around town, and I snapped a photo of you. Boy, did you look happy! For us, you were our little baby. Our common ground. When we went to bed at night, I always said “another day tomorrow little dog” and I often wondered when I would ever stop saying those words to you. I know you didn’t really like it when we got Shelly. You enjoy the quiet and comfortness of a home. Not to be attacked by a puppy interested in playing all the time. You were my first little girl. I find myself mixing the names of you and my daughter all the time. And do you know why I do that? Because you and my daughter awakens the same emotions in me. Parenthood, care, and love. And this is how much you mean to me, dear dog.

I am sorry I am not around like I used to. I am sorry you do not fit into my new household. I am sorry my girlfriend misundersands you, and think you’re angry. You’re not. You’re just an aging dog, and you don’t like children. Maybe some misbehaved kid did something to you when you were young. It’s not your fault. I understand.

I hope you can forgive me for disappearing like that. I didn’t mean to. I just can’t find a way to make it work. I really want to spend time with you. Give you cuddles, treats and nice walks. I wish I could lift you up into my bed at night and fall alseep next to you like I used to do.

I had to sacrifice something, and I am sorry it turned out to be you. It’s not your fault. I love you just the same, my aging dog. I just think you have a better life if you stay with people who understand you the most, and can give you the treatment you deserve. And she does. She loves you to bits, and your life is with her.

To the second one,

My best friend, my confidant, my little happy, playful dog. Can you believe I wasn’t too keen on getting you? I didn’t even say yes! Suddenly we just picked you up, and that was that. I am so happy that we did that in 2014.

You give me a feeling of unrequited love I have never felt before. From day one you trusted me, and chose me to be your leader and daddy. Between us there is a bond I have trouble explaining in words. I miss you when you’re not here with me. You let my step-daughter do anything she wants with you, and maybe you do it because of me. Because that is required if you are to be with me now. You welcome them with open arms.

Do you remember those long walks we did a year or so ago? Going out exploring. Just you and me. Best friends. Do you remember those sad, lonely nights when you stayed with me? When everything was shit, and you were the shining star in a dark night? That’s what you are to me, my dear little dog. I will never forget the moment when I looked into your eyes and I swear, it was like you spoke to me in my mind; I give you my unconditional love. Never before or since have I experienced something like that when I’m around dogs.

You scream of joy when I pick you up. Do you do it because we can be together? Because when you are with me, fun things will happen? When you’re with me, you refuse to leave my side. If I go to the bathroom, you want to come. You stay beside me. No matter what.

I am so sorry we can’t be together more than we are. I wish we could. Your place is with me. We have a special connection you and I. I feel like I let you down. How I push you away because others don’t want you around.

I am so sorry I have let you down. I can’t repay your trust and confidence in me. I failed you. My sweet and lovely dog. I am sorry.

To both,

Merry Christmas to you both. I miss you terribly. You are one of the few connections to my old life. One that is fading by the day. My two, lovely dogs. Know that I miss you with all my heart. I have let you down, and I am sorry for it. Know that I will see you again soon.

Daddy

A bleak, February visit to Edinburgh

I remember giving her the airline tickets as a Christmas present. It was her first Christmas with me and my family, and only four months since she moved in with me (and for her – to another country). The start had been a bit rough, but I expected as much. We were slowly coming to terms with living together, and living in the same country together. And, so I decided to buy two tickets to Edinburgh, Scotland as a proper Christmas present. We would spend five days in the Scottish capital in mid-February 2010. Couldn’t have been more off-season if we had tried. I wanted it like that, besides, it was also cheaper.

The look on her face was priceless when she opened the present. She didn’t really know what to expect from a Christmas Eve and what presents she would get. For once she was at loss for words. It’s the best gift I have ever given anyone.

I feel that Edinburgh in February of 2010 was almost a peak in our relationship. Everything was still very fresh. There were no IVF, no issues with finding work, no immediate money problems. No focus on depression, anxiety or OCD either. Just two people going on a trip to abroad to a country we both loved. The weather at home was bitterly cold. In Edinburgh there were no snow, no sub-zero temperatures. Just a mild winter. It just felt good.

There were tourists, but not many. The weather was bleak with heavy clouds, but we loved it. No sunshine, no heat. Just a regular winter in Britain. We walked around the streets of Edinburgh being happy. Just happy. «If only more people knew!» she said while we climbed up some steep stairs towards the castle. She was thinking of the lack of tourism. But, hey, it was February. It was like we were all alone in this magnificent city.

We walked up the Scott Monument, visited her university (she had started an online degree there), visited pubs and ate unhealthy English food. She bought herself fudge and claimed that any time of the day was «fudge o’clock». She was almost like a child in a an amusement park. We didn’t really do selfies back then, but I had my video camera, and she had her handheld Sony camera. I videotaped, and we both took photos. Photos of us on Princess Street, besides the statue of Hume, at the castle or around some high point look-out spots in the city. On almost every photo, we are smiling. She’s smiling. In some photos I see that she has taken off her glasses before the photo – something she often did. I may not always smile in the photos, but I am happy down to the very core of myself. I can tell. There’s not a single worry in my eyes and posture.

In one photo there’s just a bunch of KFC food. Not understanding the Indian accent added in with the Scottish dialect, we didn’t understand a single word of what she asked when we ordered, and we ended up with a huge meal we couldn’t finish. We laughed. It’s funny what you remember and what you forget from a trip like this.

We went to St. Andrews in the rain. We saw the ruins – completely alone. I videotaped while we were walking around studying buildings and architecture. Looking at the North sea and holding hands. It started to rain even more heavily. We only had one umbrella, and we both tried to get room under it for cover while we crossed an ancient church yard. In the distance, an RAF Typhoon did circuits at RAF Leuchars. There was no one else about. The photos clearly shows it; not a single soul. Just us, a couple of sea gulls and the sound of a jet fighter somewhere in the background. And the rain. Heavy rain.  My video camera stopped working due to the heavy rainfall. I didn’t really care. The trip was almost over anyway. It stopped raining shortly afterwords.

I write this because I was just asked what my favorite vacation was. There was no hesitation when I answered. It’s not my trips New York, San Fransisco or Texas. It’s not Cambridge, Munich, Prague or Krakow either. No, it’s Edinburgh during a bleak and rainy February 2010.

It all felt like it was just us (sometimes it actually was just us!). We were in love, we were together, we were still fairly young, and we were out exploring the world. It was exactly as we had envisioned the start of our lives together.

Sometimes I truly wish I could go back and do that trip with her once more.

 

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Signs and Portents

If you have challenges in your life, and most people do, here’s something you might find soothing. Be creative! I created art. Posters on my wall. Framed.

I find being creative comforting in trying times and situations. Many people find comfort in music or lyrics. Perhaps books, movies or art.

For many, playing an album and reading lyrics might be enough, but I found combining lyrics to my own art or expressions to be a very positive experience.

While not all of these posters are my own art, some are. I will explain more below each photo and what they represent. The peculiar thing with lyrics is that they can mean anything to you – even though the original writer meant something else. I am confident that most of these lyrics means something totally different to the writer itself – but to me, it’s about specific situations or life experiences.

This idea came to me after being sent a photo of a friends wall in his house. It was a photo of a certain lyric written by Axl Rose. The song is Estranged by Guns N’ Roses, one of the songs by GNR which means a lot to the hardcore fangroup. So I decided to do something like that myself, but adding more of my own creativity and also including several other bands that I keep close. This whole collection is now on my wall in the second floor – and one of the things I am most pleased about in my house.

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AEROSMITH: Seasons of Wither.

One of my fave Aerosmith songs, “Season of Wither”. Much better than any of their other ballads in my opinion. For me, this represents my ex-wife. While not everything is something I can relate to (I do not feel I am any devil really). However. My ex was always sleepy. She slept until noon sometimes. Maybe hours longer. I would always get up early, walk the dogs and spend the next hours writing on a book while she was sleeping. She was always blues hearted as she was perhaps more depressed than I understood her to be. She often said “this year has been the worst for me” and she kept repeating it every year. I reacted the wrong way, by being annoyed, upset or even angry. I took it as a personaøl insult as I went out of my way to make her happy. I often replied to her that I had had a great year and didn’t understand why she felt like this. And this kept going on for too long. We fell into decline. Our relationship dwindled. Wither.

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GUNS N’ ROSES: Estranged.

Almost self-explanatory. It covers everything. From trying, failing and trying again. Maybe Next time I will get it right. Every persons life has certain Seasons that keeps changing. Nothing is constant except change. Axl Rose have a way with lyrics which most lyricists can’t compete with. It’s depressive, but yet optimistic. Never give up hope that next time you will get it right. Whatever that may be. That being a relationship and exploring why it fell through or whatever it may be. Do some soul-searching, and try again next time. Maybe then you will get it right in the end. The image itself is one I am very proud of. Axl on the rail of a big oil tanker about to jump off. Taken from the video. Axl and GNR was very hooked on symolism back then. I think he still is. This sole lyric means a lot to me.

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WESTWORLD: Limbo

An almost GNRish epic ballad by Tony Harnells Project called WestWorld. To me it deals with loneliness, being in a limbo. Not either here nor there but simply waiting for the next chapter in ones life. I think this is where I am right now. The song is extremely personal to me. And it must be to Tony as well. It’s a wonderful song of what I believe is about his first divorce. I can feel like I have nothing to show. I have no girlfriend, no wife, no children, no family. I keep myself up and I get tired of it because I have nothing to show and feel below everyone else and their more fullfilling lives. So for me, it’s about both my divorce and not being where I am supposed to be – but in the middle neither here nor there.

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SISTER: Let it bleed.

To me this is about my last, short relationship. My request of wanting children, and she agreeing to it – but later changing her mind. It was an absolute turmoil in my head. My request of children turned into weakness in her eyes as she thought I had mental issues dealing with lack of fatherhood. I was very depressed then I must admit, and with the season being dark and cold – it truly felt like darkness was covering me. With her changing her mind over what I call “a dealbreaker” (children) I broke up with her. I guess she broke up with me too. She thought I was weak and sent me some nasty accusations my way. So instead of going along with something I couldn’t do any longer, I let her go. I mentally bled for a week or so, but I set it right. If I am to go be with someone, they have to open for children. I let it bleed and I set it right.

There are a few others as well, but I thought these were the best.

 

Chapter 6: A Race Through Dark Places

07.12.2016 

“Can you tell me why you are here?”
I thought about it for a bit before I replied.
“I need to do my job properly.”

Such was my introduction to my problem to her. It was the short version. It was more than that, but I had to start somewhere. I had been advised by a good friend of mine to talk to someone about my challenges. I had been there before. With my now ex-wife. A place where people goes when they want to divorce in this country.  For free. Sometimes Norway can show itself from its absolute best side. Free professional assistance and guidance. A place where you can pour your heart out and no one can judge you for it. It was the kind of help Americans pay hundreds of dollars for.

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I didn’t really know they accepted individuals (thought it was just couples), but they did. She was a pshychologist, and about my age. She simply said her name was Mari. She was an attractive woman with a wonderful, welcoming smile. Her dialect suggested she came from Oslo. I wondered if it was work or romance who brought her up to these parts of the country. I bet it was the latter.

And so I told her my problem. I told her I’d been in meetings with young mothers or mothers-to-be at work where I simply did not function properly. How personal feelings got in the way of doing things right or simply paying attention. I assured her no one in any meetings noticed anything as I kept my cool – but after the meetings I was a mess. I was overflowing with jealousy, bitterness, and anger. Some of these babies were born when I should have become a father myself, but didn’t. I saw my own children in these babies (even though no one had ever existed). Poorly prepared fathers and mothers. Parents-to-be that were not prepared for what was to come. Inside I was the same as when I was a teenager and heard of friends going to England to see football. I was fuming on the inside then too; they didn’t know SHIT about England! They never studied maps of English cities! They didn’t know squat about English history! They didn’t even know which team played in which English league division! They didn’t DESERVE to be in England! I did! Not them!

I had to admit one thing. I was depressed, and I had not been depressed before. Not like this. Co-workers noticed a change in behaviour in me. I had a blank look in my eyes. I had to leave lunch when children came up as a subject. I was in tears every other day (at one point I kept count). I had never felt so alone ever before. I felt like a failure. I talked myself down. Everything I had buildt up the past 10 or so years came crashing down.

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All in all, it felt like a house of cards. I was just about to put that final card on top and declare victory when everything fell apart. My confidence, my life, my future, my hobbies. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and I couldn’t think of one step I had put wrong.

When I had finished that first conversation with her, I walked somberly back to my car and drove home. When I came back home it was all quiet. Not a soul in the big house. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I had a good job, a great, big house and all this care and love to give and there wasn’t a soul around I could give it to. I sat down for a moment and thought; “what the hell happened?”

The next day was my birthday. I would turn 36. I curled up under a blanket with my entire body and stayed there for half an hour. Fetal position.

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But anyway, I’m jumping ahead of myself. I need to backtrack a year or so. Perhaps this blog was just a way of avoiding to write about what happened between this and those first IVF visits.

What goes up….

My ex-wife had a poster in her bedroom that said exactly that. A picture of a hand drowning in pills. What goes up, must come down. It’s funny how something sticks to you. That poster stuck to me, and I still remember it vividly. I often picture it, and those excact words. 

It was those words that stuck to me when I was walking down one of England most historic airfields, minutes away from reaching another personal pinnacle I never thought would happen to me. I somehow had managed to manouver myself in a position to fly for free in a P-51 Mustang from the second World War. Something every historic aviation enthusiast dream of, but for most people can never be achieved. My father had spoken of trying to be given such a chance for three decades. He never got close. Suddenly, before even being 35 years old, I was about to go on that ride. And I would be doing it over the English countryside pulling 5 G’s in the backseat of one of the most famous aircraft ever made. It was at that moment I thought; “when will I ever come down?”

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In all honesty, looking back, it feels like anything I wanted between 2005 and 2015 came true. I always wanted to travel the world. Suddenly I had racked up 24 trips to England, three trips to the USA, 11 to Israel as well as all of Scandinavia, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and more. I finally got to see my fave football playing live, I wrote books and published them with ease. Further; I befriended a childhood rockstar-hero of mine, signed books in England sitting beside WWII veterans, held lectures on historic aviation, got tenure and married a knock-out dark haired exotic girl. I turned 30 and didn’t think one bit about it. I felt at ease with it. I wasn’t an insecure 20 year old. I was reaching beyond anything I could have imagined within my hobbies and interests. All this may not sound much, but for me it meant the world. Everything I hoped when I was growing up was coming true. If this was getting older, I had no problem with it.

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With my head slightly banging on the canopy, upside down over Duxford Airfield, the thought of coming down came creeping to me again. Reaching this level of what I considered personal success; what will come next? Could I possibly continue on like this with what I felt was never-ending success?

Fact is, coming down again was creeping up on me. I just didn’t know it yet. A year later down the road, and my world would look very different.

Up-and-Down-Plan-Crash

 

 

It’s culture issue

No, it’s not actually. I often told a few trusted friends the situations I ran into during the first years with together her. They kept saying it must be a culture thing. It wasn’t really a culture thing. It was a personality thing. She just had some quirky personality traits I couldn’t wrap my head around.

However, her home country had some drastic differences to mine. Security issues, density in population, massive traffic, pollution, extreme heat. Perhaps the biggest difference of all; communites so vastly difference from each other to the point you wouldn’t really think you were living in the same country at all. The diversity was something alright, and it’s not all positive. But then again, she could pick friends totally to her liking because there were so many to choose from. She always said that in Norway, you just had to become friends with whatever because there would be no one like you around anyway. She had a point. Her friends were all highly educated people. Bordering on nerds, but not in an obvious way. I was a nerd as well, but not like that. I never excelled in school and never had a lifegoal of becoming a doctor. My nerd factor came from my hobbies, not academia. My friends came from all sorts of places. None of my friends had anythying in common except knowing me. Her friends seemed to have lots in common. She had hand-picked them. I was just pleased I could make friends at all.

Mass-immigration from Russia combined with a growing Arab community made for natural segregation as people tend to seek out their own kind. It’s definetely a warning signal to countries like Sweden who have basically kept an open border policy for cultures so different that they could be from another century. Her country had communites within communites, and none of them really spoke to each other. To me, it felt like 10 or 20% of her countrys population, (mainly the secular, highly educated part) pushed the country forward while the rest simply went along for the ride.

However, all of this didn’t really give us problems. I can point to one important factor why; religion. We were secular. I was more athiest than agnostic. She was perhaps more agnostic than athiest, but it worked. So, no, it was never either about religion or so much about culture. The difference between western countries are really not that huge. We surf the same web, watch the same TV shows and follow the same football teams.

The differences may be in each countrys wealthfare system or how doctors do their job. How you send in your tax report. How much or what type of groceries a small town supermarket got, or whether there are pubs around or not. Whether or not you can go out on a Saturday night depending on the cost of a fancy burger. Coming from me, this is one of the things I’m quite proud of. We never had issues about culture differences. Perhaps it was easier for me since she came to live here and not vice versa. I would definetely have had issues living there, but this also because I’m not keen on living in large cities. I’m not keen on steel bars on your windows either. Speaking of burglaries, she was scared of being alone in our apartment for some time so she even locked the bedroom door with a key at first. Is this culture or personality? I think it’s the latter.

While working at a school she was shocked that the school did not have a fence around it. Most countryside schools simply don’t around here. It’s just nature that surrounds it anyway. She was surprised children stayed out and played in almost all weather conditions while in her country the kids were rushed inside once a spot of rain appeared. Yes, this is culture. But, all these differences were easy to get used to once she knew the system of the community she lived in. The nature and level of trust people had between each other. In her country, it didn’t feel like anyone trusted anyone. But who does in large cities?

It wasn’t about culture.

 

Chapter 4: And the Sky Full of Stars

I made over ten return trips to Israel between 2006 and 2012. I often photographed a lot of it, videotaped some of my travels as well. While the destination was always what I was looking forward to, I often found the travel itself an added bonus. I loved flying. The photos on this specific blog post are all mine. Often taken with a low quality cell phone camera, standard of 2007-2008.

You can decide to hate airports and air travel, or you can decide to embrace it and make your journey a bit more fun. An airport is the modern day roadcross. From airports, people will travel to all destinations of the world. Being at an airport made me understand that I can travel to any of the destinations on the board. It is a feeling of freedom. It is at an airport I feel I am most in touch with the world.

My journeys to Israel took about 15 hours, give or take. That included all legs of my travel. It would often start with getting a lift to the bus stop by my parents. From the bus I would often send my girlfriend a notice I was on my way. I often seperated my journey into four parts; bus to airport, flight to Prague (I often used Prague as my transfer), flight to Tel Aviv and the train ride up north.

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Blurry photo of boarding a CSA flight in 2009

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Gate at Oslo Airport

From the bus going to Oslo Airport, I would often gaze at the outside surroundings of often melting snow, a foggy landscape slowly waking up to spring while knowing Israel was already in full summer mode (I rarely did the trip in summer or fall). At the airport I would check in my bag at a counter still manned by people. This has now for the most part a disappeared from most airports with all the self-service check-in counters popping up. I would often study people around me, I spotted Israeli-Norwegian couples, business travelers or holiday-makers simply off to Prague. The Oslo-Prague-Tel Aviv route with Czech Airlines was at the time (a decade ago) one of the cheaper and easier options of routing down to Israel. I could often identify people going all the way and seperate them from those only flying to Prague. Nowadays, the route is operated from both Arlanda and Kastrup by SAS and Norwegian, but theres still no direct flight from OSL. Other carriers I flew (with transit) were KLM, Austrian, Swizz, or a mix of carriers within Star Alliance. Other carriers with a connection somewhere would be Lufthansa, British Airways and Air Baltic which I never tried.

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CSA dirty 737 wing flying over Norway

Having good time at an airport is essential for me. I often settled down somewhere with a pizza slice or two and looked at 737s arriving and departing from gates. Perhaps going for a pint of beer if I had the time. My flight departed around 15:40 and arrived in Prague two hours later. From there, there was a good six hour wait for the midnight departure at 23:55 to Tel Aviv. I never thought of those hours as boring as most people would have. I used to sit down in a pub somewhere with my laptop, a Czech beer in hand and surfed the web while the aircraft were passing by outside. During the last years I often used www.flightradar24.com and track incoming traffic on my computer while keeping an eye out for the aircraft outside. On a budget, I often used the KFC restaurant in the departure area for a late dinner. Czech Airlines operated a check-in counter inside the departure area for connecting passengers to Tel Aviv. Here, to handed out boarding passes.

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Laptop and a Czech beer makes for a good time

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Prague Airport getting more and more quiet as night falls

All through the evening, the airport got a little less crowded as each flight left to its destinations. I noticed Prague often had obscure destinations for holiday goers. For example Bournemouth in Britain. It was obviously meant for Brits to come to Prague to party. By 23:55, the airport was usually entirely empty except for those people going to Tel Aviv and the security guards walking around.

The flight to Tel Aviv was usually never fully booked. I could often use all three seats to stretch my legs and sleep for most of the time. One time, I woke up after a short nap, and looked straight down at a major European city, shining in the night. I believe it was either Vienna or Budapest. I often used my MP3 player and tunes in to whatever FM signals it recieved – and by the language I could pinpoint where I was. However, Czech Airlines often used a rather new Airbus on this flight with small screens for each row with the complimentary live flight tracker.

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KFC to go at Prague Airport

After having done several flights, I knew how to ask for certain things to get the most out of their service onboard. Like two cans of Coke and extra water, or other gems they might offer but you need to ask specifically for. Later on, most of Czech Airlines trolly service went all “pay”. Too bad.

The most interesting part of the flight was the last 20 minutes or so approaching Tel Aviv. I could clearly see the lights from the shores of Israel from some distance away. If I was seated on the left side, I could almost see as far as Haifa. Coming in to land, the highways below were often empty, but for a few cars and trucks.

Already slightly jet-lagged, I had to stand at passport control in front of a young Israeli girl in uniform asking me questions she had done thousands of times before – totally uninterested in her line of work. “What is your purpose of your visit?” “Where do you live?” “What is your girlfriends name?” Regardless of these young girls unimpressive approach, I found Ben Gurion Airport very safe due to all the checks they did. Especially when departing.

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Czech beer for this first flight down to Prague, ca 2007

Sleep deprived, I found my way through the final checks, picked up my baggage, and met up with my girlfriend waiting in the terminal. The clock was often around four or five in the morning which meant she had been taking a train down to Tel Aviv in the middle of the night to meet me. Both lacking sleep, we often hurried to the train for the last part of the journey up north. Usually, we went to sleep at eight in the morning. A long travel, but I always enjoyed it. I was traveling the world, had a girlfriend from abroad and had stars in my eyes.

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One interesting incident in 2008; the captain of this CSA PRG-OSL flight forgot to add flaps before take-off, subsequently aborting take off halfway down the runway