My first home was a big city apartment, not far from where I currently live. This was in 1989, and renting or buying a place in Oslo was significantly cheaper than now. I was about one year old when my parents took me to live in the suburbs, but I always imagined that my love for city sounds when I sleep, is due to my very first year of being alive, certainly hearing cars and voices from the streets both days and nights.
The first house I recall was a small, red house with a lovely garden. At least that’s how I remember it. We had courgettes, yellow, green and blue plums, apples, pears, red currant and blueberry bushes, and even a cherry tree which usually got five cherries on top, that we could never reach. My father built me a dollhouse which was much bigger than dollhouses usually are, and I decorated it with miniature furniture and old pictures.
Back to the house; the kitchen had a checkered floor, and the dining table was in front of the window, where I would always watch the trains from the close-by train station pass by. Sometimes there were red, cheerful-looking passenger trains, other times brown, mysterious cargo trains, that seemed everlastingly long. I fantasized about jumping on to one of them to see where they would take me, half adventurous, half mortified.
The walls of the house were colorful and the rooms randomly furnished, and I specifically remember the dark brown front door, which had a mark from a break-in that had happened before I was born.
In my room, I had a tiny walk-in closet (that I did not yet appreciate for the same reasons as I now do) with a big, white door. On that door, I put all the stickers I could collect. That door was my greatest pride. On my window, I had a pair of deep pink curtains, and I clearly remember seeing them blow gently in the breeze, as I listened to the sighs from the trains parking in the distance.
Our mailbox was hundreds of meters from the house, and I used to sit on the back of my mother’s bike while we went grocery shopping and checking for letters. On the way there we had to pass by a strange industrial building, with an open path underneath. In the middle of it, there was a kind of column with stairs inside, where I sometimes would see an older boy going up and down. It always puzzled me how anyone could live there.
There were several stray cats in the neighborhood, and one of them suddenly decided to stop being terrified and became ours. My mother fed him tiny pieces of bread with liver pâté, and he eagerly ate it, looking all fabulous in his black and white tuxedo. He didn’t want to go inside, – his soul was still too wild, – but my tiny self had already discovered her love for felines.
We moved when I was eight. The cat had disappeared a while ago, so what really broke my heart was leaving the dollhouse, the fruit trees, and the closet door. The new house was much bigger, nicer, and in a better neighborhood, so I was also excited, but suddenly saddened when realizing I would never again live in the only place I knew as home.
I soon learned that the house had been bought by Mercedes Bentz, and that it was due to be torn down within the next few years. It felt like having betrayed an old friend, and I spent the rest of my childhood years coming up with more or less ingenious ideas for saving my previous home from certain death.
The building of the new Mercedes store was getting postponed time after time, and I dreaded the day when I eventually would see the property empty. I started thinking about knocking on the door, asking the temporary residents to allow me to pay the house a final visit, but I never had the courage to do so. I just kept planning, wishing, and hoping that some miracle would appear from above.
One day it did. It came through a tiny ad in the local paper, showing a picture of my house on the top of a huge truck. I was already old enough not to care as much as I once did, but for a moment I was brought back. A family had purchased it and attached it to their existing one to expand it. And I knew that the love I had felt for my childhood home had paid off in the case of an extremely unlikely coincidence. I went to see the house’s new location, and I instantly knew it had got a nice, new family to enjoy life within its walls. I was so relieved and happy. I had saved it. The power of thought was a real thing.
Getting older and revisiting the house in photographs, I suddenly understood the level of improvement my parents had done when changing houses. The eyes I had previously seen through had never noticed what I now would have categorized as a redecoration object.
I felt lucky to get to peak through those eyes as an adult. And I realized that such naïvety is a blessing one can never regain.