It's cold outside, but it's a nice kind of cold. It's the kind that greets you with a smile. It's grey outside, but it's a pleasant kind of "grey" It's melancholic, but in a beautiful way. Then theres the city, the place that's filled with fear and expectations. Highs and lows. Lot's of love and lot's of dissapointment. All at once. It's always crowded, always allert, yet, you're lonely. Alone in the crowd. I'ts a sacrfice you'll have to make when moving here. In the mids of all the limelight and all the glory - you have no one No one but yourself and a book of Hemingway. But you don't really mind it. Because it's autumnm the most beautiful season. with all it's colors - Ochre, red and oak-brown. The colors of a Rembrandt painting. It's beautifully melancholic. Just like Hemingway, and just like Oslo. And soon you'll figure out that you're not really alone. You have someone. Someone who'll stay by your side no matter what. Because the books gave birth to more than just cleverness: It gave birh to your IMAGINATION.
A solitary trip to Oslo.
I’m reading Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” – and I must say, it’s a good book for a big city. Reading it wasn’t half as pleasant in my hometown in Sweden, as it was here in Oslo. The story is filled with detailed descriptions of lazy days in Paris, drinking, writing, meeting up with friends and drinking some more. By the sound of it, you’d think of it as a cheerful life, full of laughter and interesting conversations with artists and poets. You’d think the protagonist had nothing to worry about. But then, as the story evolves, you’ll think differently. Because a life in the city isn’t full of sunshine and glory. It’s bittersweet. Just like the autumn. In fact, the more I read, the more I was reminded of my own experiences of solitude. All of a sudden I was back to living in the city a year ago. I was back to sipping coffee or wine at a bar. Gazing at strangers. Wondering what their lives were like. Looking at couples holding hands and whispering silly little things into each other’s ears. Daydreaming. Imagining a better tomorrow.
Because I have been there too. I have felt loneliness. I have had an aching heart. I have gone to sleep alone, hoping, praying that maybe – just maybe tomorrow would be different. Maybe that friend would call me up or answer my latest texts about a possible meet-up.
But as much as I suffered, I also enjoyed it. I thought of silly things, just to make myself laugh. I walked in the park, collected yellow leaves and smiled at older people, who’d smile back and comment on the nice weather. I constantly romanticized mundane situations – I imagined meeting a stranger at a coffee-shop who would take away my loneliness and set my heart on fire. It never happened. But so what? It happened in my imagination. And that was enough.
Hemingway said: ““Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know”.
Perhaps this is the reason why I feel there’s a big, dark, melancholic cloud over everything he writes; The more you know, the more you grieve. Ignorance is bliss. We all know this.
But it’s important to focus on one thing; That at least, you have your imagination. In the mids of all the dark and the lonesome, you can pick up a book or just let your mind go wild – for a little while.
You can ride a sad train with Anna Karenina. You can experience a bullfight with Hemingway. You can go to New York with Holden Caulfield. You can help a poor woman in need, together with Jean Valjean You can go to Hogwarts and learn magic-tricks with Harry Potter
This is something you’ve learned from reading, and you’ll learn it again when you try living alone in the city. Just like the autumn – it’s a love that has to grow on you. It takes time.
Because I know it can be awful at times.
I know it can feel like the whole world is against you.
But it can also be wonderful! Believe me!
You can walk alone down the crowded shopping-streets and wonder what happens next in “Les Miserables” by Viktor Hugo. You can relate to Hemingway’s existential problems in “The Sun Also Rises”. And you will no longer feel alone. The characters in the book you’re reading will be your company. And they’ll never leave your side.
After all, Hemingway did have a point when he said;
“All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened.”
So if you’re alone in the city and you’re experiencing an overwhelming amount of contradicting emotions – know what you’re blessed with. Get to know your imagination. You can get very surprised by what actually goes on inside your head. I know I was.
(Ps: Also! If you live in Oslo and want a tip; Walk through the Royal Park while listening to THIS song by Richard Strauss. You won’t regret the experience!)
Aftur S. Nerdrum