Ghosts of girlfriends past. Part 7.

Right, I’ll do something else now. I’ll re-visit a few of my short-time and long-time girlfriends (don’t worry, there’s not many of them!) and do a short summary of it. I might turn out anything from hilarious (mostly the first ones) to very serious crap. Anyway, I’ll do it because it feels like something I want to do.

Girlfriend #7: The one who changed her mind

Who was she?
She was a pretty blue-eyed blonde my own age. I met her at a reunion party. I got in touch with her a few weeks after the event. We immediately hit it off. We had much to talk about, and spent hours telling each other about our lives. I am still confident it was mostly about her, but I chipped in. I dug deep down and poured my heart out. Like she did. It was fantastic at first. She had two wonderful children. I got involved with them as well, especially the youngest. I was prepared, and more than happy, to give her the stability she so rightly deserved. There was only this thing…

Why did you date her?
She was pretty, very caring and I immediately took to her. She was kind. And I wanted a family. I guess we hit it off while both being in a bit of a dark and emotional place.

Why didn’t it work out?
Well, let me say this at once; no one has ever been so fucking nasty to me when we broke up than she was.

She came to me after a month or so and said she was willing to give me children even if she had two of them, because she loved me that much. She understood it meant much to me. She changed her mind three months later. It put me in an extremely difficult situation where I had to choose between her and her little family and the potential of my own biological children in the future. For some time I didn’t know what to do, and I was furious she had changed her mind. This is a thing you just have to be 100% certain about from the get-go. No hesitation. Generally speaking; are you open to children or not? She thought it was all about her too. She wasn’t able to seperate between my general wish for children and the potential wish of having them with her. Anyway, you can’t go back and forth on this, otherwise shit will happen – and it did. In the end, I broke it off. My desire for my own children weighed too heavy on me. If you ask her, I’m sure she will say she broke it off, or we agreed upon it together. Fine. Whatever.

The last we really spoke to each other online, she sent me really nasty messages implying I was mentally unstable and not quite right in the head. Never before have I experienced such nasty and unappropriate accusations. I am still shocked!

Where is she now?
She found some other guy a month later and even had the nerves to tell me on Snapchat and even saying “he was everything she looked for in a man”. After that message I deleted her from my Snapchat and Instagram and unfollowed her on Facebook. I mean, what the fuck?!

What would you like to tell her?
Plenty.

Listen, I know your ex boyfriends really screwed you over and I guess after those experiences you immediately think you see the same in me. But I put a lot of trust in you. I told you about myself and what I had been through lately – and you used it against me. You accused me of some very serious stuff and I can’t forgive you for it. Is this how you talk to people you love or did love? Yeah, we were both in a dark place last winter, but I tried to help you with your problems. You simply used mine against me.

In the end, I feel pity for you. I am so sorry you have had to go through so much shit in the past you did not deserve. Honestly, nobody deserves what you’ve experienced, but you made some choices when you were younger. You had a choice. You chose wrong. If we had met at 25 I think we would have been great. If I had met you 10 years down the road – it would have been great as well. It’s just the wrong place and wrong time. But here’s your problem; I could have given you everything you wanted. Stability. Someone faithful to you. Someone who could protect you, love you and keep you safe. But you decided the cost was too great. No more children. And so our roads split, and we won’t talk again. But I will never forget what kind of position you put me in, and what you accused me of.

Dark places requires dark songs, and this sums up how everything was in February.

Ghosts of girlfriends past. Part 3.

Right, I’ll do something else now. I’ll re-visit a few of my short-time and long-time girlfriends (don’t worry, there’s not many of them!) and do a short summary of it. I might turn out anything from hilarious (mostly the first ones) to very serious crap. Anyway, I’ll do it because it feels like something I want to do.

Girlfriend #3: The one out of desperation

Who was she?
She was a collegue at work ca late 2000, early 2001. She had blue eyes and semi-short brown hair. She was 17, I was 20. She wasn’t very attractive, and not very bright either. But, she was quite experienced for her age. If you know what I mean. She had just broken up with a boyfriend of hers, and turned to me. I wasn’t attracted to her, but convinced myself that I was.

Why did you date her?
I was lonely and sick of having no one. I was 20 years old and had not been in any form of relationship or having had any form of physical contact with any girls except during the summer of 2000 when #2 was visiting. I was tired of everything. So I went for it.

Why didn’t it work out?
Well, she quickly got bored of me and went back to her ex (or was it someone else?). I can’t remember it bothered me that much really. I was more pissed off that another female collegue which I considered a friend immediately pulled back from hanging out with me when I wasn’t with her any longer. I felt that was a shitty thing to do. We stayed in contact for a while, and then it fizzled out.

Where is she now?
Oh, boy I have a few stories to tell. I called her once a few years down the road, and she bluntly told me she just had an abortion due to a “two-night-stand”. I think she told me the guy she met after me was abusive as well. Then years after that she suddenly appeared on national TV because her family (two kids, husband) had massive financial issues. No idea how that worked out. Very embaressing stuff. I remember thinking; imagine if she had gotten pregnant with me. I would have been stuck having to relate to her for the first of my life. Jesus Christ!!

What would you like to tell her?
I will be as blunt as you were; you’re not terribly bright and I am very pleased you dumped me quickly. It would have been a bloody nightmare otherwise. I hope you make sure your children stay in school, get the right education, and learn a couple of things from your poor life choices. I dodged a bullet there. Good luck.

She had a thing for this song – and I couldn’t fucking stand it.

Ghost of girlfriends past. Part 2.

Right, I’ll do something else now. I’ll re-visit a few of my short-time and long-time girlfriends (don’t worry, there’s not many of them!) and do a short summary of it. I might turn out anything from hilarious (mostly the first ones) to very serious crap. Anyway, I’ll do it because it feels like something I want to do.

Girlfriend #2: The American

Who was she?
She was a quiet, American girl with dark hair from Texas. We spent countless of hours talking online through several years. Maybe three years. Maybe more. We exchanged so many e-mails, and had so many chats online. She had the same interests as me (sci-fi, music, aviation and so on). She had very low confidence and few friends. Her dad yelled at her a lot. At her sibblings too. We were instantly drawn to each other because of those interests and quite simply for being lonely. She came to visit me for a week in 2000. We hung out and made out even if she had a boyfriend back home. I came over to see her in the summer of 2001. Then, some time in late 2001, things fizzled out communication-wise. We still talk, but rarely. Often when she’s out driving or going somwhere when she’s away from her boyfriend.

Why did you date her?
I didn’t really date her, but we were very close. People living so far away from each other can still have a very tight and personal relationship. For a good while, she was my only friend. Without her, it would have been a very lonely state of affairs. I really liked her. I liked her because I found her pretty and smart. She was insecure and lonely. So was I. My only friend.

Why didn’t it work out?
Well, she found a boyfriend in 2000. She’s still with him. He’s in my opinion not good enough for her. He ruined everything. That and drugs. I wasn’t into pot, and I am still not into pot. She got into it, most likely because of him. And so we naturally drifted apart when I met someone else in late 2001 early 2002.

Where is she now?
I think she’s somewhere in in the southern states working as a waitress and living in a trailer? It’s a sad situation really. She should have finished college, gotten a degree, a good house, a good income and a good supporting husband. Instead she got none of it. Just braindead boyfriend with a fucking drug addiction.

What would you like to tell her?
You should stop this before you look back at your life and understand how much you have missed out on. You love travelling, have you done any of that? No. Shouldn’t you aim for something better? You are too good for your shit job. Too good for him as well. I know your dad really messed you up, and your low confidence and self esteem is due to that, but you don’t have go on about it like this. You deserve so much more. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you or guide you. I felt it was impossible for me to assist you in any way.

Please, break up with him. Move somewhere else, get help from your sister (she really wants to help you), find a proper job, meet someone that treats you right. Otherwise this will simply turn out to be a wasted life when you had the chance for so much more. That’s heartbreaking for me to know.

She was a big music fan. Often of the modern (at the time) nu-metal bands of the day. While I can’t really define Tool as nu-metal, she was a big fan. This song was on the radio the entire time when I was in the States visiting her.

A View From the Gallery

This post just came to me while I was out walking the dogs, so I’ll get this down at once (just need a beer from the fridge first – right – done!).

My past year and a half of downright torture can be summed up into phases. A psychologist would most likely go “yeah, of course you daft idiot”, but sometimes I can have a personal ephipany and I need to put it down. Like this one.

Phase 1: Deal with the break up. Deal with anger. February 2016 – May 2016

From that moment when she said those first words of breaking up, I had to deal with it. I had to deal with the fact that we wouldn’t be together. I had to deal with the fact that my life was about to change into something I wasn’t prepared for at all. I reacted with anger. I was angry. I was angry at her. Pissed off. I ofen called her a few profanities and then ten minutes later apologised to her. After a while I retracted into my shell and distanced myself from her. We went to councelling, and when the woman we had said “looks like you two are done”, I thought “finally, just get this done with”. Not once did I try to save anything about the marriage. Not once did I ask my ex if there was anything we could do to hang on and try. I didn’t care. She couldn’t give me the family I wanted. I had just been waiting for the right signal to get away. I almost feel evil by writing this. I was disappointed, and I was angry at her. Angry that she was just being herself. Angry at her sicknesses, angry at her mental state. Angry that she never bothered to help me one bit with anything. Angry that I wasted so many years with her. Angry at myself for picking the wrong girl. And so I used the next months to distance myself. I guess it went relatively easy because she had already distanced herself from me without me noticing. We decided I would continue to live there until I had found good house option and a proper way to move out. She was always decent like that. Very professional if you may. Nothing childish. I sometimes do wonder what happened though. Perhaps out relationship just died out? Did I do something wrong, somewhere? I never really believed her when she told the counsellor I deserved someone better than her. I’m not that daft. But I didn’t care. I just wanted a family, and she could A) not give it to me and B) not deal with it if that had happened.

Phase 2: Untangle myself, move out, move in. Deal with everyone else. May 2016 – October 2016

One of the hardest part of it all was to tell my mother. Like most sons, I care deeply for my mother and I would never want to hurt her. Others do get involved when there are break-ups involved. I told her the situation via many, many words. She understood and she said she supported me no matter what. I told her my desire for children and the entire affair. We’ve never spoken about it again. And so I was ready to move out. I tried waiting for the right moment and the right house. Friends told me to move out at once. I didn’t listen. I waited until I was pleased with my opions, and I was right in the end. I found the right house. During that summer I spent many hours on my bike. Just biking around the countryside. I had to get away. In June I exchanged lots of messages with a girl. We never got anywhere except talking on SMS, but it helped. Thank you. It put my mind on something else. I sent out a message to everyone else on Facebook with “breaking news”. I think I told a very good friend at work the last. I didn’t want to upset her. This period was more about bureaucracy than anything else. It takes time to untangle everything. Some couples never do, and so you get all these weird constellations with women living in houses owned by their ex-husbands and what not. Not a good idea by the way. Well, we had meetings with the bank, splitting up accounts and all of that stuff. All down to the electricity bills. It’s not mentally challenging, but it takes time and it needs to be done right. Plenty of people doesn’t. And so with the first phase being about dealing with the relationship ending, this phase was all about logistics and like I said, bureaucracy.

I wasn’t really prepared for phase 3. It hit me like a brick wall.

Phase 3: Deal with being alone.  Deal with sorrow and pain. November 2016 – April 2017

Up until the fall of 2016 I had been doing alright. The hardest part had been telling my mother and the initial shock I had of the break-up. I had been very clear on what I wanted; a family. My ex wife couldn’t provide one. I felt I had plenty to offer girls – I am decent looking chap, nothing majorly horrible physically. Good education, nice job and I could always pull the author card if all else failed (and I confess I did a few times).

And so I met my now ex-girlfriend. I told her about my intentions of wanting children, and she agreed to the deal. I was pleased, but yet I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t really understand why. I was simply blue. Anything could throw me off and I would start sobbing. I remember one night walking the dogs, looking up at the crisp, clear sky with thousands of stars and feeling like the loneliest person in the world. I was looking in jealousy at parents taking their children to kindergarten every day. I was not able to deal with my job. I did not understand what I did wrong to deserve all this. I lost my hobby of writing – I was not able to write any longer. I felt horrible for my mother who so badly wanted grandchildren and all I did was fuck everything up. I screamed at myself inside my own head. I called myself names. Telling myself I was a disgusting, useless piece of shit (yeah, over and over again). I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I went back to counselling, but this time not because of a relationship, but because of me. The counsellor said to me once “you want a family” and I could do nothing else but nod with tears in my eyes. It was so unlike me. I wasn’t myself. In January my ex girlfriend thought she was pregnant for a few days. I suddenly felt happy,  but she was scared. And then she had a change of heart. I sometimes wonder if we simply pulled both of ourselves downwards. I guess she had a mental breakdown of sort because she had a change of heart about children and didn’t know how to handle it. Like I told a good friend “I did not deserve that”. She must have thought I was one of the most emotional guys she had ever met. And I most likely was. I wasn’t feeling well. I was grieving over the IVF and not having children or a family, and she didn’t really understand. I confessed to her how I felt bad for my mother – like I let her down. My ex just went into defence mode and told me I shouldn’t get children just for my own mothers sake. I should have said; “Jesus fucking Christ, it’s not about THAT!”. In the end I felt she used my grief against me – telling me I was not alright in my own head. Going on the defensive and arguing against everything I said. Like there was something terribly wrong with me. I don’t think I will forgive her for that. But it made my decision easier. Not to say it was easy. I even tried downing a bottle of wine in an hour to see if that would help, but it didn’t. Worth a shot though! But I will say this; she only wants to be loved too. To have stability and a functioning family. I sometimes feel awfully sorry for her. Sorry for her past experiences with men, and sorry for not being the right person for her. Maybe she was right all along, we should have met 10 years ago. I think it would have worked out great if we had.

Phase 4: Rise from the ashes. Look back and accept it. May 2017 – present

A trip to England in March did me well. I was slowly coming back to life. I finished the counselling in May. I started to feel better again. The counsellor said I looked better. Maybe I did? I owe her my deepest thanks for how she helped me. I can still think of certain things and feel very sad, but I’m almost back to my normal self again. I can write (like this) again. I don’t have horrible periods where I want to hide away in my own bedroom any longer. And so I am able to look back at everything and get a better perspective of things. Sometimes I am extremely scared of ending back where I was in January, but I don’t think I will. I don’t live the life I truly want, but I have a good shot at getting it right. One can always hope. I think it’s gonna be alright in the end. 🙂 If not, at least I did my absolute best. There’s shit I can’t control, and sometimes it just happens to rain on someone. It could be me, but I will try my best to run away from it.

IMAG2076

 

Ephipanies

It happened about a month ago. I was standing in line for BBQ’ed chicken at the supermarket. My only stop at this supermarket for almost a year. Funny that. You passed in front of me, and looked me in the eyes just briefly. Just like me you were unsure if you knew me or not. When I walked back to the car I was almost convinced I knew who you were. I couldn’t shake the feeling of warmth you gave me or how beautiful you looked. Something told me I had to find you. So, I looked you up and sent you a message on Facebook. “Was that you I saw?” You replied that it was. I suspect we both had a good understanding about who we were looking at, but this is Norway after all. We’re not Americans or Spaniards after all. We just don’t stop and talk to strangers unless we are absolutely sure we know them.

We couldn’t stop talking after that. We met again shortly afterwards. Two adults, a six year old and a three year old dog. We talked for two hours while your daughter and my little dog ran around playing. Without hesitation you invited me to come with you and your little family to a family park with lots of fun rides. It’s those places you can’t really go to unless you have children. Everything felt so natural and right. Not once did it feel awkward. It was the best day I’ve had for so long. As long as I can remember. And you know why? Because I felt normal. I felt part of society again. Considering my age it was the right place to be and the right thing to do. And I was with you. I didn’t feel like a nerd sitting at home writing novels. I didn’t feel lonely walking somberly alone with my dogs in a suburb full of happy families. I didn’t feel down because I was drinking beer with lonely guys above my own age staring down their failures in life. I wasn’t scared I might end up like them any longer. I was happy because I felt normal. I was in a family park, doing family things. It didn’t feel awkward because it wasn’t my family. I felt part of it. It felt right. I can’t thank you enough for that day when everything felt right for me. You included me on your family trip without hesitation even if you didn’t know me that well. I can’t thank you enough for trusting me and for giving me the chance to prove myself. I do not know what I have done to deserve your trust so quickly, but I will never abuse it.

I am yours now. I was hit by a lightning and I will never be the same. So, I’m tearing down the walls I have built around myself once more.

To quote Jeffrey Sinclair in Babylon 5’s War Without End Part II (even if it is corny 20 years down the road);

All my life I’ve had doubts about who I am, where I belonged. Now I’m like the arrow that springs from the bow. No hesitation, no doubts. The path is clear.

There is only one question I need to ask you. I think I know the answer, but I am still nervous about it. I feel like I have burned my hand once, and afraid of doing it once more. I think it will be alright. It feels like it will be alright.

And even if all fails, I will still remember the day when everything was alright.

Chapter 7: And All My Dreams Torn Asunder

The chance was 1/3 from each try. We had three tries. I threw a dice three times to see if I got the right number. I got it on my third try. I figured it would go down that route. How we would be succesfull at last. It couldn’t possibly not work. Things like this simply didn’t happen the wrong way. At one point or another she would be pregnant. In all fairness to the Universe, we would be great parents. It clearly had to see this.

She actually got pregnant while she was “reseting” her body in February 2015. Not from IVF either. It came as a surprise. If she had not been so “aware” of everything, I doubt she would have noticed anyway. She was just a couple of days late. It meant she had to abort her medicine and start all over. It was a chemical pregnancy.  After a couple of more days, everything went back to normal. It cost us another six months. She came to me with her stick that said “pregnant” and her voice was shaking of joy and surprise. I will never forget it.

We went in to Oslo for our fourth attempt in the fall of 2015. Maybe it was our fifth, I can’t remember. I was looking for signs by then. A caravan down the street had the name of what we had planned to name our child if she was a girl. Adria. I took it as a sign. A positive one. The sky that morning before we left for our last attempt was crispy clear, and an a Airbus A340 from SAS streaked across the sky coming in to land at Oslo Airport from New York. I took that as a sign too. I still couldn’t really believe that all of this could be for nothing, so I expected the last attempt to work. But it didn’t. It simply didn’t.

Adria

If it was a girl, we would call her Adria. From Stargate SG-1. We figured a girl might look like her.

We decided to not give up, and went to a private clinc quickly. We bought an IVF package worth 60 000 NOK (excluding medication). The total sum would be about 100 000 NOK. Her mom paid half, I paid half. We tried once. The eggs were developing, but not good enough. They inserted the one which looked semi-promising. It didn’t work. It was perhaps the worst disappointment of them all. She also had a terrible physical reaction to it. The private clinic did things differently, different medication. She got sick. Very sick. We barely managed to get home. At one point I had to take taxis around Oslo to find a specific drug as many of the pharmacies were sold out. I went out of my way. At least I thought so. She was upset because I didn’t tell her “it would be alright”. How could I? It felt like lying. To her, I wasn’t doing my part. I wasn’t saying the right things, and I wasn’t suffering. She was. She was suffering. All I had to to was deliver a cup. Mentally I dealt just as much as her. She just didn’t see it.

My MasterCard bill was growing rapidly, but we still had another two tries left. That was the package deal. If it worked on the first try, we would still have to pay for three. We had gone for three. The clinic was very serious about their work. We liked them more than the state run hospital. They had a different approach to things.

Our next attempt would be in February 2016. I had a trip to England coming up, so she went to the clinic by herself for the usual talks before the attempt started – what kind of dose of medication would work, when she would start and so on. By then we didn’t really work as a couple any longer. The IVF process was consuming us. We talked of little else than IVF and our dogs. It was all eyes on it. All our energy. I read articles online saying it was normal. I took care of the house for the most part. Inside and out. I was doing everything I could.

When I got back from England I found her at home in tears. She had aborted the IVF treatment. For good. She had had some kind of breakdown at the clinic and had decided to not do it anymore. From being “all in” a month ago to completely abort it was a shock to me. It dawned on me she had ideas and issues/problems/thoughts she had not shared with me. About us. She wanted to address our issues. I understood, but replied I always thought it was natural considering how hard the IVF was to deal with. I guess she disagreed. So, that evening – after just being back from England an hour beforehand, everything was off. IVF, children, relationship, marriage. It was all off. From what I could gather she had pushed her body through these tries without actually “being there” any longer. She just went along with it even thought she didn’t want to any longer. How many guys can say they had to deal with a broken up marriage and aborted IVF on the same day?

images (1)

I didn’t know what to think. A weight lifted off my shoulders the same night, but I didn’t know what to make of everything. I had been worrying about her for years. That weight disappeared. I didn’t have to worry that much now, she had pushed me away. What now?

It took another six months until I moved out. Simply because we had to untangle our lives and make the best choices. She had to be able to finance the house on her own and I had to get my own place. It was a mess. I bought a car in May with automatic gear change. Not because I wanted one, but because she couldn’t drive a stick, and because my father helped finding the car. He didn’t know anything. No one knew anything, and I had a horrible time telling my parents. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, but it wasn’t up to me. I was simply put in a situation where I had to make some choices. I distansed myself from her quickly. I was angry, upset. But one thing kept me going; she couldn’t have kids. This put me in a situation where still might be able to – if I met someone else. That first night after I came back from England I suddenly remembered something she told me once before the third try at the hospital; “if this doesn’t work you can make someone else pregnant if you’d like.” I thought she was joking around. She had actually been trying to tell me something.

I can never name my child Adria. If I am lucky enough to find someone and have a child that is. The name Adria is a symbol to all those six tries which did not go the right way. They were just five or six cells, but in my mind I can picture what the child would have looked like. And that is Adria. It’s a horrible feeling. It’s like missing someone you’ve never met. I can imagine her in my head. She actually feels real, although disappearing more and more now that I have some distance. I’ve met people who simply do not understand the despair and grief of something like that can give you (it’s another story). It is very real. Just by writing this I can feel my face tightening up. Having children is a unfair game. It is simply unfair. Nothing to do with education, being smart or anything. It’s just about luck.

It’s at these moments I am usually putting on Butch Walker’s melancholic album “Afraid of Ghosts” and I think I will now. I could have written this more personal or with more feelings, but I simply can’t. It is simply too hard.

LJX090_800-e1422978905545

Chapter 5: No Surrender, No Retreat

I can only speak for myself, but I was always of the impression that pregnancies could happen at any time – anywhere as long as your penis circulated a vagina area. Fine, I exaggerate a tad, but it was to prove a point. Babies happened. It was all over the TV. Soaps showing unexpected pregnancies in all ages, and shows on MTV about teen pregnancies. A friend of mine got pregnant when she was 16. To me, this should have been one of the easier tasks in life. What would come later would be hard part – the upbringing. I expected babies to happen as soon as we went for it.

teen-pregnancy

Most people have one or two things they struggle with. Physically or mentally. Perhaps you were raped as a teenager. Maybe your mother was an alcoholic, or you lost your significant other in a car crash. Maybe your father died when you were young and always longed for a father figure. Maybe you have no self confidence, maybe you are under-performing in life and know it. Humans always seem to have one or two “soft” spots. I often wondered what mine was – now that I had broken free from a shaky start of adult life to excel in what I was doing, I almost expected something to pop up.

Turns out it was lack of pregnancies. She simply did not become pregnant. We tried for a couple of years, nothing happened. Perhaps it something physically wrong. Maybe it was her mental state of stress. She was always stressed out. Perhaps it was hormonal. More than likely a mix of all. We just didn’t know. All we knew was that it wasn’t me that had a problem.

We were referred to IVF treatment. First three times are free in this country. I didn’t know much about it, but figured this would be a safe bet. Considering it was a 30% chance on each try, the math was good. A 90% chance. In theory it would work. We talked about children names and prepared like any other couple. First try didn’t work out, and I started to calculate the chances in different ways.  By each step in the process, 50% of the eggs would disappear. The Norwegian approach is also to be very conservative and not insert many eggs – compared to Israel where it was more of a “go flat out” approach with many eggs and considerable amount of twins being born. I read articles online saying it was mentally demanding. Physically as well – for the female.

woman-injecting-ivf

First try was a failure even before got to the insemination part. She made a mistake with her drug injections prior to the date we had at the hospital. It didn’t cost us a try.

Second one went alright. Six eggs was taken out. Three  didn’t evolve. Three was alright, but two of them did not develop properly. We had one left, which was inserted. The nurse talked about “the golden egg” which I found odd. Why bet on a “golden egg” when chances would increase if you bet on several of them at one try? Their response was that they didn’t know her body well enough to know how things would go. They were simply being cautious, but in my world that cost us two tries before they found the right dosage of drugs and what not. It was like putting your hand out in a dark closet and hoping to find that shirt you want to wear on that particular day. Among so many others. The more I calculated based on how they were doing things, the less positive I got. And it took months and months between each try. It was all a process. And a painful one at that.
Second try was aborted while we were halfway to the hospital by train. It was a two hour ride. None of the eggs had developed. We jumped off the train and went back home with our hopes shattered for a second time. I realized at some point that this may as well not work. I could end up not being able to form a family at all.

nochild

I thought it to be very ironic. Of everyone I knew when I was growing up, I always considered myself as very capable with children. I adored children. My confidence in fatherhood had not even gone down when my self-confidence was low and I was insecure. If it was one thing I was good at, it was professional and personal care for others.

And in the midst of this painfully slow and tough process, we were growing apart from each other.  Or maybe she had already disappeared from me, she just couldn’t find a way out.

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.

Bilde062

Blurry photo of boarding a CSA flight in 2009

Bilde059

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Bilde068

Laptop and a Czech beer makes for a good time

Bilde150

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bilde069

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.

Bilde144

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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