I know I say this every time I come back to Austin, but damn, man, I need to come home.
Yesterday I was wandering around the HEB grocery store, and I swear I felt like a country bumpkin in the big city. My US friends just don't GET the soul sucking standard of shittiness that is your average grocery store in Norway. (Even the Norwegians agree that the grocery store situation is pretty crap.) I mean, even the fancy big stores, like Centra in Majorstuen, it's less than 1/5th the size of HEB and the selection is just sad, comparatively. (OK, perhaps in seafood it might be better, but only in certain things.)
A kilo of fresh boneless chicken tenders at HEB, cost $8 (45nok). I pay at least three times that for chicken breasts in Oslo. A pound of the biggest most delectable fresh large Gulf Shrimp, $6.79 (37nok) on special (I took a picture, the counter guy was all "Can I help you?" and I was all "No, *sigh*".) I pay 99-120 nok for 400 g of frozen ones.
I wandered around and looked at all the lovely sushi and dumplings (I love Chinese dumplings) and the HUGE selection of meats and cheeses and the lovely fresh vegetables and the organic vs non-organic choices and the coffee and the WINE IN THE GROCERY STORE ( I found the yummiest Malbec rosé, $11 a bottle) and just wondered why is it so impossible to have something like this in Norway, the richest country in the world? WHY?
And then people would just come talk to me, and they are all so nice and outgoing and will complement you on your shoes or on your pants without any guile, just because, hey, they LIKE your shoes and want to TELL you about it. I feel a part of this community, we are all chatty and friendly and shit, it's nice. Nobody shoving, nobody giving you rude looks, everybody making way and being polite to strangers. Wow, what a concept.
I find myself in a velvet trap. I love my job in Norway, I love my coworkers, and I know I will never have another confluence of job awesomeness like this again, where I am well paid for a job I love with people that I highly esteem. Also, the security of the health benefits in Norway is really very important and reassuring, yes, national healthcare is a GOOD THING). But when I come home to the place of my heart, and see what I am missing out on (and it's not just the material stuff, it's also my friend's lives and their kids and knowing I am not there for some big milestones and the day to day stuff that cements your lifelong friendships) I do wonder how much longer I can stay away.
I really do.