I remember when I was a young teenager my family and I were in the neighbourhood of somewhere close to where we used to live once upon a time when we first came to Norway. A little white house, sat in a little neighbourhood close to Siljustølen, surrounded by fields, tucked away behind the kiwi shop. I don’t remember much from that time, apart from feeling my first bee sting under an apple tree on a little swing, and watching my neighbouring kids play football in the grassy field by my house. I don’t remember much, but I know my parents held the memories of that house dearly, a time of new beginnings and fast growing kids. A place where my brother and I for all I know might have taken our first steps or first skipps.
I remember returning to this house with my Mum when I was a young teenager, and my Dad refusing to join us and see it, remaining in the car. I didn’t understand why until when my Mum and I finally found our old, white house after searching endlessly up and down streets after streets with unrecognisable rows and rows of new houses. Claustrophobic. We didn’t find the apple tree, we couldn’t see any fields, or tucked away football pitches. I remember my Mums face as she saw how everything had changed, how those cherished memories where nothing more than memories and everything else had gone. You couldn’t unsee it, suddenly the memories where stained with this new alien image. I envy my Dad for sitting in the car and still being able to remember the old house next to the fields, pure and unaltered. He knew not to ruin the memories. I know that since that time it has changed even more. The kiwi shop is still there, but behind it massive apartment blocks tower above, the area even more expanded for housing. The one beautiful farm that remained, with it’s beautifully flowering meadow in spring is blown up and gravelled to make room for the new Bybane train service. Around the corner sits Nordahl Grieg videregående skole (high school), the one I attended myself for three years. In the apartment blocks I have some of my dearest friends living. For some it’s their home as they’ve always known it, for others it’s just an upsetting reminder of how it doesn’t feel like their home any longer.
That place was never my home though. My home is the yellow house tucked away by a lake, surrounded by mountains, with no bus service to get to it. The place where I became me. The place where I learned to ride my bike, played with my cats in the garden, and numbed my feet in the icemelt river during the annual spring “keep your feet in the water the longest competition”. The place were I used to picked wild blueberries in the forest behind our house with my nextdoor neighbour, listened to the magical winter melody of the returning whopper swans in the colder months, and swam in the lake during the summer. A place where I drove past fields with summer pasturing cattle, farms and lakes to get to, on the tiny, yellow bus after school, or in my parents car after work, or eventually my own little red car after hanging out with friends. The place I fled from as a hormonal teen because I was wanting to live and find myself, only to realise I actually, truly and utterly loved and adored the place I so strongly wanted to run away from. The thousand and one things that make it home and make it me. A part of me wants those memories to stay alive forever, nothing changed, frozen in time.
I am scared of going home this year. I am a little more scared of returning home after every time I leave it now for months on end, but this year I am more scared than ever. I am scared to see how the 6000 explosions to take down half a mountain and build a massive tunnel for a new highway on that road I must drive past to get home will look. The tunnel built just round the corner from my house. The tunnel that only became a tunnel because our local community rallied against the local and national authorities to stop plans of having a massive bridge be built above us. I am scared the mountain is unrecognisable, scared and imprisoned with bolts and overhanging netting. That the fox I used to see do his late night walk along that tiny country road has been pushed out from all the screaching lorries taking rocks to nearby pop up depos in my area where recreational parks and woods are being trashed and polluted, affecting more people I care about. I am scared that the fields of cows, and yellow and white meadow flowers are replaced with rubble and rock. That my little, quiet, tucked away place that I call home feels no longer like home. Like mine. What happens afterwards when the tunnel is done? Does this new road mean new houses, more traffic, buildings and noise? Will my fields, flowers and blueberries get trampled and gravelled? Forgotten or never to be known or remembered by new home makers and house buyers?
One can’t stop the change, But do I want to keep returning if everytime I go back it feels a little less like home?