Saturday, July 8, 2006

They Say In Bergen You Are Born In Rain Boots

Last week I was suddenly struck by a vivid memory of a leprosy museum. Wooden rooms, quiet brick yard, terrifying drawings. I could not remember where or when I had seen it--Russia? Germany? A fucked-up dream? I knew I had been there alone. I started to think I had imagined it. But then I came to Bergen yesterday and stumbled up on it. It felt like a universal clicking into place. I had been there when I was 21, when I came to Norway and traveled around the whole country by myself. Today I returned, with the young posse. Real-life deja vu.

Bergen is like Portland would be if it had an ancient Viking past. Rainy and easy to get around and full of music-scene, but plus a lot of medieval wooden buildings and narrow cobblestone streets and Hanseatic artifacts. We are here for the weekend, an urban break from sweet sleepy Sogndal. We have roamed the crammed and tilting old section of town, hastened through the reeking fish market several times, celebrated a 16th birthday, eaten what one called "soggy paneer" at a restaurant called "Taste of Indian," and most significantly, we have gone shopping. My two little Teen Vogue disciples are obsessed with shopping, which unfortunately Norwegians have adopted as a cognate, so no matter which language they're speaking I have heard the word "shopping" two hundred times in the last 48 hours, usually prefaced by "When can we go." They cry out the names of stores as we pass as if they are greeting celebrities. I finally said, OK, fine! Meet me at the hotel in two hours. Then I went to the record store and dropped ninety bucks on Norwegian music and was ten minutes late to meet them.

It is so Saturday night right now. I chauvinistically like to think that Norway is aesthetically as well as geographically above the rest of Europe, but the nightclub music rattling my hotel window is declaring some true European union. The playlist alternately sounds like the Dance Dance Revolution soundtrack and Americabilly karaoke. I am going to put in my earplugs and sink into eight hours of sweet dark denial.
But wait--they're playing "Vill Ha Dej!"
Best bad Swedish disco teen pop single ever!
This is one of my favorite songs to dance to ever, like, jumping up and down with full-on hands on the heart and then up in the air moves.
If you are lucky, you will never hear this song, nor witness said moves.

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