To be more specific, from Lagrasse, one of the ten most beautiful villages in Europe. I didn’t think anything could possibly beat last year’s trip to France, but I have to say, this year’s trip to Europe has been even better. In embarking on this trip, I hoped to collect inspiration to use in my art and work, and to have a bit of a shake up of who I am, to see what is the real me and what is just years of habit and expectations and roles that I’ve settled into. In the words of Lewis Caroll, I wanted to find my muchness. And I have.
Travelling alone in Oslo was an amazing start. I have never travelled alone before, and I discovered a kind of resilience that I didn’t know I had. When things went wrong, instead of taking them to heart and agonizing over them, I was able to shrug them off and not feel so personally affected by them. My bag didn’t arrive with me? No problem – I don’t really need much stuff anyway. Someone yells at me? Well really, it’s her issue that’s happening here, not mine. Can’t find our accommodation? Put one foot in front of the other, keep walking, and eventually all will become clear. Peeling off that extra layer of emotional angst that I usually contend with at home made all sorts of practical problems so much easier. How to bring this lovely quality home? I’m not sure, but I’m gonna try.
After Oslo I stayed with the gorgeous Morten and Marte Marit in Kristiansand – lovely folk I have met via Facebook but not in real life. Turns out we were all a bit nervous about how it might be, but in the end we made a real friendship and I will be thrilled if I get to see them again. I took the plunge here, and tried writing in Norwegian for communication, not English. They were frightfully patient with me – all the words I didn’t understand, they’d help translate. But hell, I was impressed! I could actually COMMUNICATE in Norwegian! I was astonished at the number of words I managed to remember and use, and how much I picked up just by writing it back and forwards all day. Wow.
The visit also raised a whole lot of questions for me. You see, by then, I hadn’t even put on my hearing aids for two weeks. Usually I wear them quite a lot at home, to help with communication, but also because of tinnitus. But in Norway, no tinnitus.
“Why not?” Marte Marit asked. Hmm. Good question. Actually I think it was the fact that I stopped trying to lipread. I knew I had no hope of lipreading Norwegian, since while I understood it in written form to an extent, I had no idea how anything was pronounced, except to know it was wildly different from how English speakers would expect. No lipreading = no tinnitus?! Now that’s a revelation to me! Which means… do I think about changing my life at home, to get rid of the tinnitus? How do I stop lipreading? That’s a big and hard question.
‘Why not write? Like we are doing now?’ Marte Marit suggested. Writing with her, in my talking book, it was easy, because I had simply NO other option. I couldn’t hear or understand Norwegian if my life depended on it. But at home, I can lipread to an extent, and it’s hard to avoid taking that shortcut, especially when it takes the burden off other people. It feels like a big ask, to get someone to write to me rather than speak. But is it worth it, to eliminate the constant ringing in my ears? Hmm.. more food for thought.
In a bookshop, I had a thrilling time browsing through the beautiful Norwegian childrens’ books, admiring the gorgeous pictures. And then I picked up a book that made a chill run down my spine. It had illustrations and story on one side of the page, and on the other was a series of visuals that showed how to tell the story in Norwegian Sign Language! Something magical happened there. I have never seen such a concept here in Australia, though I am sure such books exist. I felt I was holding in my hands the spark of a future project. My free online Auslan course has gone viral, and I now have no less than five thousand, five hundred students! Gulp. If learning Auslan is so popular, maybe people will like Auslan in books too… I felt the future calling me.
More in my next post… stay tuned!