In Little Women, Jo describes her feelings when she moves away from home for the first time to work as a governess and aspiring writer in New York:
“I felt bold on leaving Concord, but I confess I find New York rough and strange, and myself strange in it. Mrs. Kirk believes I am here for a brief interlude of sensational experience before succumbing to a matrimonial fate […] but I hope that any experience I gain will be strictly literary.”
I can relate to Jo. When I came to Norway, I felt brave but out of place and floundering in the new culture. And like Jo, I think most people I know have certain…expectations on how my life should be unfolding, especially now that I’m 24. These expectations, once latent, are now showing themselves as time passes and I remain single and without prospects (how Jane Austen-esque does that sound?). Friends and family at home continually ask, “So, have you met a cute Norwegian boy yet?” Even people here ask if I’ve found anyone interesting. How many times can you just lamely say “no” without feeling like the leftover you joke about being?
Well, I’m an aspiring writer, too. So I will take Jo’s words, and when people ask if I’ve met a Norwegian man yet who can throw me over his shoulder like a viking and carry me off into the sunset, I can arch my brow and say nobly: “I hope that any experience I gain here will be strictly literary.”
And when I make into Oprah’s Book Club, you’ll see I put all these years of solitary world travel to good use.