Exercising my right to move to Norway
UNLIKE YOU, I have options.
A number of years ago I married an intelligent, blonde woman who spoke many languages, including one that sounded like the soundtrack from “Thor: Ragnarok.” It was gobbledygook to me, but she turned out to be Norwegian — imagine my luck!
That’s right. Not only do we have the right to resettle in Donald Trump’s favorite white-bread country — Norway makes New Hampshire look like the Model UN — but Norway is also anxious to have us. We have been perusing a website called “New Beginnings in Ringerike,” which bills itself as a “recovery” program for Norwegian-Americans traumatized by the presidential election:
“In light of the results of the US presidential election, the Ringerike Recovery Program has been developed by the regional development company of Ringerike, Norway. We are offering acute aid to descendants of emigrated Norwegians, and other Americans, considering a new start abroad.”
Where the heck is Ringerike, you ask? As indicated, it’s in Norway, a bit north (ugh) of Oslo, and to the left (west.) On Google Maps, it looks like an enchanted land of lapis lakes and forested mountains, which is how I will choose to think of it.
“Ringerike has a lot to offer,” the website explains, in near-perfect English. Did I mention that all Norwegians speak perfect English, and Swedish, and German? The fact is, Norwegians in particular and Europeans in general (don’t get me started on the Dutch) can be pretty annoying profiling their peacocky polyglottalia. Which may or may not be a word; my English is a work in progress.
Where was I? “Ringerike has a lot to offer: free health care and schools, reasonable [sic] priced housing, wide cultural scene, high tolerance for religious beliefs and sexual orientation, stunning nature, clean air and fresh water. All are equal; women’s rights are advanced, and our current female head of state is not our first.” This refers to prime minister Erna Solberg, whom, inexplicably, President Trump treated like an actual human being during a recent White House visit.
This country’s sense of self is positively Trumpian, e.g.: “We believe our highly developed welfare state is the best. Not only are we among the richest countries in the world, but the United Nations’ Human Development Index has ranked us the world’s best country to live in — 12 years in a row. That’s facts.”
The come-Norske website has links to homes for sale in the area. It looks like I could buy a three-bedroom house in Haugsbygd, if only I could learn to pronounce it, for about as much as it would cost me to move to Waltham. Furthermore, there seem to be plenty of job opportunities in my putative new home. I could work for Norwegian public broadcasting in Buskerud, covering “the elongated Buskerud County, which has both coasts, high mountains and the urban big city life.”
There is one thing the Ringerike website doesn’t offer, which is answers to direct questions. I fashioned an unctuous e-grovel, which, translated into plain English, read: “Can I come sponge off of your legendary social welfare system, which your prime minister says remains intact, despite the cataclysmic collapse in world oil prices?”
How seriously are we thinking about moving? A few days ago, my wife and I got down to cases:
She (who has always wanted to move back to Norway, kind of): “It would be nice to be able to get Ekte Gjetost.” (Brownish sweet goat cheese; don’t ask.)
Me (who thinks Norway is awfully darned cold): “Don’t they sell that at Whole Foods?”
She: “No, that’s Ski Queen. It’s not dark enough.”
The coin is in the air.