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When I was eleven or so, I’d pass boring summer or winter break days by reading random encyclopedia entries. In particular, I’d hunt for entries on countries and peoples. One day, the encyclopedia opened to “Lappland,” and my world was rocked by the knowledge that these indigenous dwellers of far northern Sweden and Norway—now called Sami—made their living by herding reindeer.

Reindeer!? God as my witness, until that day, I thought reindeer, like unicorns, were fictional animals. And really, as a Southern Jew, it is perhaps not altogether insane that I could not sort out the true bits from the Santa story from the made up ones.

That was the beginning of my fascination with points north. Ten years later, when I was working on my senior thesis at UNC, I occasionally drifted one shelf to the left of my topic’s home in the library to read about Viking settlements in Greenland. Thus began two decades of avid reading about life near or above the Arctic Circle. While the bulk of my passion has been directed at northern Alaska, Nunavut, and Greenland, a fair bit of it—fueled by my love of knitting, streamlined design, and Viking metalwork—has remained in Scandinavia.

So when I heard that my dear friend Jim was getting married to a Norwegian lass, I was intrigued. When I learned he was relocating to Norway and getting married there, I smiled at his good fortune. When I discovered that a mutual friend would make the trip from San Francisco, I grew intolerably wistful. And when Matt mentioned that he’d like to go, I got angry.

“I’m out of work. If we spend that kind of money, it should be for a family trip! I can’t believe you’d even suggest that!”

About ten days ago, our the invitation arrived. I looked up the destination city, Trodheim, and oh dear heaven, it’s nestled amid a fjord, it features many brightly painted wood structures, and I could not find one bad shot of it.

Trondheim, Norway

It’s my Scandinavian dream. Then I looked up the location of the ceremony: a cathedral built in 1070. My heart sank. That’s when Matt looked over at me and surprised me with:

“You go.”


“Seriously. It would be great if one of us could be there for Jim. You’re 40, and you’ve never done anything irresponsible in your whole life. And hey, you have the time. Go.”

I can list 50 reasons why going would be stupid. Most involve money or child-care. But we can spare the cash if we continue to stick to my strict budget, even after we account for the untouchable reserves set aside for Simon’s college fund and preschool tuition, home repair, and emergency living funds. I can line up a baby-sitter for one or two days. Matt can take a day or two off from work. I’d have to make further cuts in my spending to help soften the blow, but it’s doable.

Darling, you have to let me know….

Oh, who am I kidding? After ten day of staring at my atlas, gazing longingly at Google satellite images, talking endlessly about it, dreaming about it, and watching videos of people yoiking online, I gulped hard and bought a ticket. I’ve got a half day in Trondheim, then one day split between Trondheim and an nearby village, the wedding day, and one day after the wedding. I’d love to stay longer, but I can’t leave Simon for more than five and a half days, and I have to watch the money.

2 Responses to “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

  1. Amanda says:

    Go. Seriously, go. And do whatever you want. My mom missed the opportunity when she was in college to spend a summer cruising the Med with the daughter of an ambassador so she could go home and work in an unairconditioned warehouse in Cleveland. She regrets it to this day. Seriously, she mentioned it again last week! So go. Feel no remorse. Go, go, go!

  2. blg says:

    I gave up the opportunity to spend the summer in Israel with my college roommate after graduation, because I had a job offer that wouldn’t wait. I still regret it.

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