Decrepit and peeling at the spine, the tattered pages of my journal tell the story of a girl. It begins with distressed, grief-stricken, and thumb-stained scribbles and eventually blossoms into frenzied entries of elation, love, and courageousness.
It was 1 AM on a Monday morning. My overactive mind winced at the thought of another monotonous April. I was suffocated by my four familiar walls, and I was tired of being mummified in a cat-hair-saturated duvet. Delirious or ingenious, I decided to book a one-way flight to Oslo, Norway.
Oslo is a tram-stitched city oozing with culture, but the solitude of the forest, lakes, and streams are at arm's reach. With scenic woodland sculpture walks, and its infamous black metal history, it was the city I’d only dreamed of exploring — it was the perfect escape.
My Norwegian journal entries began on the train from Oslo to Bergen. I scrawled in black ink and formally dated the upper left-hand corner. As my train crawled through the mountains, I started to describe my surroundings. I noted the unity of blue and green in the streams and found a fond comparison in the whiteness of the rapid waterfalls to the settled snow.
“I made it, I did it alone, I am not afraid, I am free,” I wrote.
When I checked Apple Maps, I was smack-bang in the centre of nowhere. The little blue dot was surrounded by vivid, digital greenery and village names I wouldn’t dare attempt to pronounce. I cut through majestic fjord landscapes, and my lonesome reality in London faded into a distant and insignificant memory.
I lucked out with my seating arrangements. Initially, I was assigned the sought-after forward-facing window seat in a huddle of four. After helping myself to a complimentary green tea, I discovered an isolated cushioned ledge (much like a budget sofa you’d find at uni halls). I decided to settle there, so I dragged my offensively heavy bag and stack of vintage zines with me.
I felt overwhelmed with courageousness, happiness, and inspiration. I slouched on the dull, featureless cushions, closed my eyes, and rested my head on the train window. At some point, after a few moments of stillness, I began to write.
“I can’t quite explain how I feel right now, but I will make an effort to. This way, I can remind future me — stuck in my bedroom, 2 AM Elliott Smith me — that life will eventually be worthwhile and beautiful again,” my journal reads.
I drew my rendition of a waterfall using only loose pressure of the pen on paper and the rickety, irregular movements of the train.
Since I started journaling, I’ve learnt that it's important to release those random waves of creativity - whatever your art form and however weird. If you don’t, they’ll bunch up against the walls of your brain, and rip off flaccid, slimy chunks of flesh and feast on it like blue-assed flies.
The next few pages of my journal needn’t an explanation:
The train rumbled past lush lakes, Twin-Peaks-esque waterfalls, and masses of glacial landscape outstretching far into the distance. The seven-hour train journey flew by. I think the sheer disbelief of what my eyes were presenting to my silly little brain set me into a daze. Growing up, my family wasn’t one of those uber-fortunate, skiing-every-year families. We simply existed in a hamlet in Nowheresville; I’d never seen a glacier in real life, only ever in documentaries and textbooks.
Slowly, Norwegian fairytale houses began to appear more frequently. Their classic red, white, and yellow lacquer-stained bodies boasted distinct, tapered roofs and wide, boxy windows. They perched uniformly on the verdant hills as if merrily welcoming me into Bergen.
I had planned very little for my Norwegian endeavour. I was set on visiting the Neseblod record store, Holmenkollen chapel, and Fantoft stave church. Aside from that, I had allowed myself free reign in a desperate bid to reach closer to my idea of freedom. (That, and my infamous lack of organisational skills.)
The next day it rained. I fixed myself a coffee, wrapped up warmly, and began my journey to Fantoft Stave.
My apartment backed onto a large cobbled street filled with cafes, galleries, and bookstores. I spotted appropriately-booted Norwegians as they ducked from rainfall and clutched their warm morning flasks. With my hood over my head and bag packed, I ambled into the city centre and aboard a busy tram of soggy, nattering commuters. The journey from Bergen to Fantoft was swift and precise. We cut through the city in just under 30 minutes. I gazed out the window at the all-seeing fairytale houses. When I arrived at Fantoft, Citymapper navigated me past tall office buildings and supermarkets. Eventually, it led me upwards into the embracing arms of the woods.
In my 24 years around the sun, I had never seen beauty comparable to this church. Piercing the heart of the lush woodland, Fantoft stood tall like the shadow of a beast. The dizzyingly carved motif lies romantically within the dark timber. Amongst the solid rainfall, I perched silently on a tree root and mourned with Fantoft for 70 minutes until the sun cracked through the trees, disturbing my pensiveness with feelings of power and elation.
At this moment, I realised that I was no longer the afraid, fragile girl, alone in my room being choked by my chrysalis. I had escaped the bleakness and emerged in strength, beauty, and ability.
I write this text not to brag about my enlightenment but in the hope to encourage, inspire, and nourish any minuscule seedling of spontaneity within you. I must stress that you do not need to wait on anyone to get out and live your life.
Leave that miserable job, sell old clothes from the floor of your wardrobe, stuff a 10kg, and fly my little bird.