Hi everyone! I’m back with part 2 of me and Bendik’s origin story. It was great to hear from some of you that the story of how we met was cute! I usually have to give people the ultra-condensed 15-second version of the story (“I went to Norway on vacation, he worked for my company, we hung out and now we’re married”) so it was actually kind of nice getting to reminisce about the details!
Part 2 is going to cover a lot of ground – picking up from when Bendik went back home to Norway until today! Luckily I’ve got way more pictures of this time period so they should make the post slightly more palatable. Here we go!
Saying goodbye to Bendik after his first trip to America in November 2014 was really difficult, because we knew we really liked each other but had no idea what came next. In our situation, we couldn’t exactly date casually and see how things evolved. The 10 hours he was in the air going home were spent agonizing over whether or not I’d made a good enough impression to convince him that the 9-hour time difference and spending thousands of dollars on airfare was worth it for a very new, untested relationship. I tend to be all-in on decisions (more on that later) and I had already made my mind up – I wanted to go for it.
The next month was spent IMing and FaceTiming during all waking hours. I would stay up until until 3 or 4am to talk after he had started his day. We talked about our opinions on everything, our plans for the day (well, his plans – he was always busy and I was… watching a lot of Law and Order SVU), life in each other’s cities and the details of mundane day-to-day living. But we didn’t talk about what “we” were, as much as I was dying to. Women are told to not be “pushy” or clingy, so I was afraid that if I asked him what he thought about “us,” it would all fall apart. But eventually, I had the courage to ask when a good time for me to visit him would be, and we settled on Easter 2015.
Now that we had a Next Step, I let myself get more invested and hopeful. He told me about our plans – hanging out with his friends, meeting his family (!!!) and… attending a 4-day metal music festival. I’m not a super fan of Norwegian black metal, so wasn’t entirely sold on the plan, but was just grateful to spend time with him.
When I landed in Oslo, he greeted me at the arrivals gate and I gave him the world’s most awkward hug and kiss that only made contact with maybe 1/3rd of his lips. We were so unsure of how to interact with each other! I’m pretty sure I didn’t look him in the eyes on the whole train ride to the city, and couldn’t think of anything to say, even though I was boiling over with emotions. We got to his apartment and I showered and asked if we could nap, because I was running on 24 hours of no sleep. When we went to lay down, I realized there was no way I could sleep – I had way too much on my mind. I told him I wanted to say something and asked that he not freak out, but if I didn’t get it out of my system, I’d be so disappointed with myself the entire trip. He very nervously agreed, and at this point, I think I blacked out and went into autopilot and asked “do you… like… want……. tobemyboyfriend???” He smiled and said yes, and I let out a huge sigh of relief… and then 3 seconds later blurted out “also I think I’m falling in love with you soooooo hopefully that’s cool???” He was quiet for a second, or long enough for me to regret completely blowing it, and then he said “I think I am too.” That moment was one of the happiest in my life. I could finally relax and not feel like I was hiding a huge secret anymore.
We had an amazing week together. We went to his mom Lisbeth’s house to paint Easter eggs, and she immediately made me feel comfortable – she had the best laugh and reminded me so much of my own mom! I also got to meet Cathrine, a close family friend (and Bendik’s sister’s best friend). I was SO nervous to meet everyone and make a good impression, but they made me feel so welcome. Another sigh of relief!
(Our Easter eggs!)
I also got to spend time with his dad Nils and stepmom Eli during a trip to the family cabin in Kragerø. It was my first real taste of the koselig life – we stayed warm around the fire, had a shellfish feast, and I even went out in the boat with his dad!
(Out on the water in Kragerø, nervously trying to convince his dad I was worthy of dating his son.)
And the metal festival ended up being so much fun! I very much appreciated the no-moshing rule. I spent probably $100 on “cheap” beer every night that I drank in the back of the venue while Bendik was headbanging.
After my trip, we immediately started planning our next meetups. I ended up going back out in July (when we went back to the cabin and I got too drunk on Fisher’s Storm and yelled about how great Bruce Springsteen is while blacked out – I’m the queen of acting a fool in inappropriate situations!), and Bendik came to America in August, where he was my date to Lisa and Sergio’s wedding, where many of my friends met Bendik for the first time. He was a HIT! Sergio’s mom loved him, which was a very important stamp of approval.
(Looking cute at the wedding! When I originally posted this in 2015 I got many confused IMs asking if we had eloped!)
We went back and forth between America and Norway throughout 2015 and 2016. Nils and Eli came to America for Easter, to travel around California and meet my family. For some reason, I decided that I was the only person who could drive the rental car that week, so subjected everyone to my… interesting driving skills). We had a fantastic time in SF, Monterey, Paso Robles and Joshua Tree. Meeting my family went super well – my grandpa definitely made some fans!
(Braving the winds to see the Cabazon dinosaurs on our 10+-hour drive home from Joshua Tree!)
I spent a summer in Oslo staying in an Airbnb I rented in Grünerløkka, where Bendik and I got to “live together” and play house for the first time, making dinner and drinking Negronis every night. It was so much fun, and was the first time I really thought about what life would be life if I lived in Norway. Since it was summer and light all day, I felt pretty convinced Norway would be a nice place to settle down.
(Celebrating my first May 17th in Oslo!)
(Drinking fancy wine over dinner in our apartment on Københavngata in Rodeløkka)
Bendik and I flew back to America together, and he’d spend the next month with me in SF. We had no idea this trip would be so life-changing. Early into the trip, my company’s CEO heard Bendik was in town, and cryptically asked him to put together a sample presentation that he would give the US management team. Bendik didn’t have any nice clothes to wear, but went for it and put together a sample deck to show them. He obviously nailed the presentation, and our CEO offered him a job in the US office, to start as soon as possible. This was a huge breakthrough for us – we could finally just be together in the same place at the same time! We felt so relieved that the future was starting to become more solid and predictable.
Staying true to my habit of going ALL-IN on life decisions, we started casually talking about how nice it would be to get engaged someday, now that we knew we could live together. So obviously a day later we “casually” looked at engagement rings, just to “feel out” what was “out there.” And so, a week later, while getting ready for dinner at Foreign Cinema, Bendik asked me to come into our closet to look at something and proposed to me. He had no residence permit, no contract with the US office, and no plane ticket to San Francisco, but that didn’t matter – we loved each other so much and couldn’t picture being with anyone else, so why not go for it? We had an amazing dinner that night and even ordered the expensive sparkling wine, and spent the rest of the night talking about how much life ruled and how much we loved each other. It was so wholesome!
Unfortunately, Bendik had to go home for a few months while his work visa was processing and to prepare to move to America. I don’t think I’ve ever cried harder in my life than when I said goodbye at Oakland airport, even though I knew he’d be back soon. The next four months were filled with stressful paperwork, long distance wedding planning, and late-night FaceTime calls where Bendik made me show my ring every time, just to prove I hadn’t lost it, as I was likely to do.
Finally, December 2016 came and Bendik flew to America with his mom, stepdad and sister. We spent an amazing Christmas together, where we all wore matching pajamas!
From then, Bendik and I really started our little life together. We spent a lot of time planning our wedding, making our favorite meals together and navigating life in a tiny mosquito-infested studio on Turk street. We loved walking on Divisadero, getting coffee at Mojo and buying trinkets for the apartment at Rare Device. We created routines, ate at our favorite restaurants, hung out with all our friends. Bendik settled into his new job, we went on vacations (including one to Belize, where we spent a lot of time getting sunburnt and drinking expensive watery beer at Ramon’s resort) and bought a lot of coffee mugs.
And then suddenly, it was time to get married! The whole Norwegian family flew out for the ceremony in Paso Robles, where it was approximately 10,000 degrees. We spent an amazing week with our entire families together, swimming in the pool, barbecuing, and talking in grandpa’s living room. The ceremony was beautiful and it was amazing to see how many people cared about us – many friends came from across the world to see us!
After the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken in my life, our honeymoon in Hawaii, we REALLY settled into domestic life. We didn’t make as many individual decisions anymore – whatever we did, we did together. I like to think our relationship didn’t really change much after getting married, but everything suddenly felt more significant, and I felt more Grown Up. We moved into a new apartment in the Inner Richmond (after I “casually” browsed apartments on Craigslist for 1 day), a ONE-BEDROOM! with THREE walk-in closets!!! Across the street from Golden Gate Park! And a block away from Safeway! We were truly living the dream!
(Our somewhat messy new apartment on Fulton and 6th – not pictured: all 13 doors and multiple walk-in closets, plus our massive bedroom or miniscule kitchen.)
I’m extremely future-focused and have a hard time staying present – I’m always planning my next escapade (if you’re my friend, you’ve probably experienced me trying to plan our hang-outs 2 months in advance). Bendik and I started talking about What Came Next. I was getting tired of life in the City, which was dirty, smelly, sometimes dangerous and insanely expensive – it was all really wearing me down and making my depression and anxiety worse. And, after my BFFs Kyra and Sara had kids, I suddenly wasn’t afraid to start a family (they made it look so easy, which I’m sure they’ll lol about once they read this). We also wanted a house, after sharing walls with neighbors for our entire adult lives. The more we talked about it, we realized that the life we wanted wasn’t really attainable (or affordable) in San Francisco. We had to make an extremely Real decision – do we stay in the US, or take the plunge and go all-in on moving to Norway?
It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I would be far away from my family and friends, have to learn a new language, somehow have an income, and find a place to live. But one day, I again decided to just go for it. I filled out all of the immigration paperwork, but didn’t hit submit. We had no timeline, no idea where we’d live, and no idea how we’d make money once we moved. We were in no rush, so my paperwork remained saved as a draft, just waiting to be paid for before being processed.
But suddenly, we found ourselves buying a house – I had always been “casually” looking on Finn.no (again, just to “feel out” what was “out there”) – and found a listing for a house in Nils and Eli’s neighborhood. Houses in this neighborhood never come on the market unless people that live in them die (or so Bendik says), so this was a rare opportunity. It was my dream to live near family so that our kids could be near grandparents, and this was the neighborhood Bendik grew up in, and was full of amazing, supportive folks that loved us. The house would need to be completely renovated, but that didn’t daunt us – in true Us fashion, we went for it, and one afternoon, became homeowners. (Okay, there were maybe a few more steps in the process, but this post is becoming way too long).
(Our house in Siggerud!)
Once we had the house, we submitted my immigration paperwork, anticipating it to take up to 6 months to work its way through the system (which is what UDI told us to expect). A week later, I got my approval!
(I woke up to some extremely good news on September 17th!!! But it got approved so quickly, my last date of entry was a month earlier than we’d planned on moving. THANKS, efficient Norwegian government!!!)
We told our company we were planning on moving, and very nervously waited to hear whether or not we could keep our jobs and work from abroad (as quite a few of our coworkers do). They finally told us they were willing to keep us on, which was a HUGE relief – I wouldn’t need to find a new job upon arrival. Our managers were incredibly supportive of our crazy idea to pick up and move to Norway, which I’m so thankful for!
And that brings us to today – we’re getting ready for our move by working with an architect on the house’s design (my Pinterest board for our house’s vibes is here), starting to decide what comes with us in our 11 suitcases to Norway and what gets left behind, and trying to hang out with as many friends as possible. I’m also taking Norwegian language classes at The Scandinavian School in SF, with a lovely teacher and great classmates! My pronunciation leaves something to be desired, but it’s been a lot of fun learning something new (even though Bendik usually can’t understand anything I’m trying to say).
I’m extremely nervous about all the change that I’m about to face (I don’t handle ambiguity that well), but am extremely optimistic about the positive changes living in Norway will bring. I’ll write more about what I’m hoping to get out of moving there, but for now, I’m looking forward to living in the forest in a house that’s all ours, near family that loves and truly supports us in every way (we’re a 5-minute walk to Bendik’s dad and stepmom, and just a 15-minute drive to Bendik’s mom, stepdad and little sister!). Even on tough days, thinking about the excitement that lies ahead keeps me going.
That ended up being extremely long, but I didn’t want to do a part 3 – but now, you’re all caught up! Coming up: posts about the house, things I love about Norway (and things that I’m not necessarily a fan of?) and more updates on the move. If you have any ideas/request for posts, leave them in the comments!
Hope this post was somewhat enjoyable! It’s kind of more for me to go back and read when I’m having a sad day, but also gives friends and family a little insight into our adventures. Thanks for reading :)