by Katrina Watland
I am Norwegian. I am American. I am both, but not fully either. This is probably a familiar feeling for anyone who is bicultural, biracial, bilingual, bi-anything. It isn’t that you aren’t whole; it’s just that you aren’t wholly one thing. And it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being “bi” has led me to feel quite comfortable as the “other.” The liberal blue in a sea of very conservative red. The short hair in the middle of flowing long locks. The American in Norway. The Norwegian in America.
I grew up rootless. Four weeks after being born in Norway, I moved to Germany. This was the beginning of many moves following my father’s career in the Department of Defense Dependent Schools. Included in our “European tour” were 5 years in Norway. I was almost 5 when we moved there and almost 10 when we left. During our other years in Europe, Norway served as our anchor point. Summers and Christmases were often spent there. In my rootlessness, Norway felt like the home of my childhood.
So, I was born in Norway. I lived there 5 years. That’s it. But with just that, I have an incredible pull to Norway. Maybe it’s more of a reaching or a deep-seated longing. Something to do with my soul. It’s certainly powerful, as I’m willing to uproot my family in order to respond to this call. In 1981 I boarded a plane in Oslo, Norway choking back tears as I moved from the only place I could remember living. In my mind, either because I had been told or because I made it up, I thought we were going to Alaska for one year and then would return to Norway. This, of course, never happened. Alaska was followed by Iceland and England and then I left home. But I have always known that I would return to Norway. I was determined to go back. And when I make up my mind to do something, I usually do it.
Even if it’s 32 years later.