Sunday, May 6, 2007

M.(k).(m).s.(?!). Pearl of Scandinavia

I'm eating lunch on the pull-out breakfast table attached to the kitchen windowsill. My roommate spent all weekend potting plants and they're arranged in a row in front of me, sitting in terracota pots or empty soup cans. I have both windows open so that I'm overlooking our tree-lined courtyard where my neighbors are sitting at tables and standing at Weber grills. I'm eating chevre on cracked pepper crackers and pineapple yogurt. One woman from #9 who I thought was sunbathing is actually changing her baby's diaper. I'm chatting with Gill and she is telling me the story of how she got hit in the face with a ball of fire.

I went to Oslo for this long weekend. Plans for Bergen fell through, so Elizabeth and I hopped a DFDS Seaways overnight ferry to Norway. I'm telling Gill this and she's saying that she's never heard of an overnight ferry. I'm saying that maybe she knows it better by its other name: booze cruise. She's asking if I participated. I'm saying that Elizabeth and I went to the ship's karaoke nightclub, stayed long enough to listen to two Swedes utterly butcher "I Will Survive" and vomitted our over-salted buffet dinner from laughing by the elevators where we could still hear them. Then I'm saying that we bought two bottles of cheap Asti champagne at the duty-free shop, drank them in our economy cabin bunk beds, sang songs and fell asleep.

In Oslo we bought sandwiches and tried to hijack city bikes. We saw the Scream at the National Gallery and then got on the train up to Holmenkollen where the old Olympic ski jump stadium was located. We got to the edge of the big cement crater just in time to see a group of Norwegian men cheering on one of their friends who was dressed in a moose costume, chugging beers and performing physical challenges. He was halfway up the long staircase, lunging with his hands clasped behind his back. One of the men told us that if we stuck around we could see him "empty his insides." Elizabeth asked why he was in a moose costume. Another of the men said, "His name is Deer, so he's dressed like a deer."

The view from the top of the jump tower, while cloudy, was exhilirating. The event loses its depth when televised. Now that I know the physics, I'll be watching with new appreciation. We were so high up that we could see mountains and mountain-side homes. We could see the water as it hits the coastline. We could see Oslo's ruggedness, which contrasts Copenhagen's manicure and pedicure. We looked to see if Deer was emptying his insides. I could have sworn he was a moose.

We rode the train back down the mountain and walked to a park. The monolith on top of the hill in Frognerparken is made up of men, one on top of the other, all the way to the tip of the sculpture. It looks like work holding that pose. The Vigeland sculpture garden featured statues of stout men, women and children in the act of touch. Situated along the railings on either side of a bridge, they're tumbling in play, caressing, reprimanding one another or fighting. My Oslo city brochure is in both Norwegian and English. The articles appear side by side. In the section about spectacular views, it translates romantiske vårvibber as amorous spring sensations.

The breakfast table is starting to creak under the weight of my plates and teacups. I'm worried that it's going to break, which will be funny considering that I've already managed to break my roommate's Egyptian perfume bottle (my head hit the fragrance shelf in the bathroom) and one of her glass candle holders (a jar of blackberry jam fell off the top shelf in my cupboard, rolling onto the windowsill and knocking over the stick, breaking it into three jagged pieces). I hope it holds up. An old woman across the courtyard from me just stepped onto her little balcony that's big enough for two people. So far it's just her and a huge rainbow-striped umbrella that she's been wrestling with passionately. I want to be here when it opens.



Sound system.

*** Thanks a million to Elizabeth for sharing her pictures with me while I wait for my replacement camera.


kathleen said...

when lena and i took the overnight train from madrid to barcelona, we tried to make it compare to a booze cruise...but i just spilled becherovka all over my hands when trying to fill up the flask in the bathroom. so instead! we played speed scrabble about things that made us happy.

two words i made: tea and bikes.
want to engage in both (soon) in providence?

Michelle Kirstin Snow said...

If you're asking me to check 'yes' or 'no', I'm tearing up the note and smooching you instead.