Here today, gone this summer.
When I rented this place, it was for 5 years minimum. The owner intended to give it to one of his own children when they grew up, which is still a long way off. But things have changed. A relative of his wife and close friend of the family has returned from China and really wanted to build a new house on this spot. Â (It is close so children can run over to each other at any time of the day or year.) And he was willing to pay a lot for it. So the landlord sold the house to him. Â They are going to tear it down and would like me to get out of here as soon as feasible. I’m moving on the 7th, Light willing. Two and a half weeks from now.
At least this all happened without any threats for bashing my kneecaps in or anything. On the contrary, the landlord offered me a basement apartment of roughly the same size in Mandal, the nearest large town, in an old quiet part of town with little traffic. I went and looked at it. It is OK, and probably 100 years younger than this house. There’s lots and lots of wardrobe space. And it is bound to be a lot cheaper to heat during winter. Plus it is a few minutes’ walk from the bus station, where buses go every half hour instead of twice a day.
So, it is not a complete disaster. But neither is it a cause for joy. I have dreamed of living far from the crime and grime of the city, surrounded once more by green fields, farms, hills and flowing water, like in my childhood (when I, shame to say, did not know to appreciate it). I have lived that dream here. But dreams end. Life itself, after all, is one such dream from which we are going to wake up. Â This is much smaller than that.
And yes, I feel a bit betrayed. But not very much. If I cannot forgive such a betrayal and bless them from my heart, I would not be worthy of ever uttering the name of my hero and savior, Jesus Christ, who prayed for those who killed him. This is pretty far from that (unless I have to help carry the washing machine again, in which case I can make no guarantee of my survival.)
I understand that the future of a relative (especially of the wife) is more important than a legally binding contract with a stranger. I don’t want to make more trouble for them than necessary. But even so, starting today I am looking for some other place to move to, eventually. Either cheaper than now, or out in the countryside again. Most people want to pay extra for living in the middle of town, but for me it is the other way around.
One thing that is still sinking in:Â There won’t be stone left on stone of the old house. I am not sure that does not hurt me Â more than simply having to leave. I know I complained of how cold it was during winter, but it is still a home. Here have generations grown up and lived. People lived here before electricity came to Norway, probably huddling around the wood stove on cold winter evenings, wearing thick clothes. People lived within these walls the summer when Norway became an independent nation for the first time since the Middle Ages. People lived here when the first cars began to roll on the roads, but not on the roads here, which were only suited for horse wagons. Â Some family lived here during the harsh year of the Nazi occupation, when the future of the world itself, much less the country, was uncertain. Â They lived here when spring came and the King returned to a free Norway once again. The previous owners lived here when the big, straight road was built a minute’s walk from here, straight through the valley.
Now I live here. I am the last human these walls will ever protect, the last of my race to seek shelter under this roof. Â It is old, and beginning to grow frail, but it has served for a long, long time. It has, in fact, done nothing else but serve. Â For a few more days shall I avail me of its protection, of its familiarity, Light willing. Then it will be empty again, but this time no new humans will come to live here. One day soon it will be razed to the ground, to give room to a new, large, modern house. Only memories will remain, and a few pictures.
It is an irony that I cannot hold back my tears on behalf of a house, even though I have buried two grandparents and one parent without shedding a tear. But then again, I doubt houses go to heaven when they die. Â Of course, many people doubt that about humans too. Perhaps I too will doubt when my time comes.
But moving one more time will hopefully not be the end of me. It will be the end of Riverview though. Â (And the pretty pictures.)
Well, at least now I know why these lines from an old hymn in Norwegian have been on my mind over and over these last few days. I noticed them but did not realize what they predicted, of course. The Light knows the future, but cannot reveal it fully to one such as me.
To my Lord my soul has said: You are my dwelling, my castle. He who has entered a covenant with you, sings praises in the midst of all sorrow.
All dwellings on Earth and probably even those in Heaven are temporary. Only the One is forever. Â All that I had, all that I am, has always belonged to God and no one else. “God, you have been a dwelling for us from generation to generation.” Let it so be, world without end.