Having a heart in two countries

The other day my son sent me a WhatsApp video from Norway. He was out running by the Oslo fjord and had stopped on a bridge to film the view. Far below, I could see the water that I had sailed on so many times with my late father, the Norwegian coastline, the granite cliffs worn smooth by the salt sea, and the scattering of quaint red and white wooden summer houses by the sparkling North Sea. It was so incredibly beautiful and so completely Norwegian that I was filled with a sense of deep longing.


Sunset. Norway. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Sunset, Spain. Photo © Karethe Linaae

Obviously we have spring here in Andalucía as well, which is undoubtably beautiful. But spring in Norway is something very special to me. There is the joy and vitality people feel when the winter is finally starting to loosen its grip. This is something the Andalusians likely will never experience, and can therefore never begin to fathom. Regardless of how far or for how long we have been away from ‘home’, certainly speaking for myself and my kinsmen, we will always have a heart string tied up back at one fjord of another.


Coast, Norway. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Coast, Spain. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Norway is after all, if not our homeland anymore, our birthplace. For us who have now lived longer away elsewhere, like a compass, we will always feel a certain pull towards the north. I may speak out of hand here, but in my experience, it is almost a fact. Let’s take Spain for example. In spite of how fond we Norse men and women who live here are of our adoptive home country, and how much we enjoy the Spanish light, sun, tapas, wines, olives, music, flowers and the Mediterranean lifestyle, part of our heart still belongs to Norway – cold, snowy, sleety, dark, stormy and all!


Sheep on the road, Norway. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Sheep on the road, Spain. Photo © Karethe Linaae


The Norwegian national anthem begins with the words “Yes, we love this land”, but some of us do not only love this land, but others as well.


Wheat fields, Norway. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Olive fields, Spain. Photo © Karethe Linaae


I have heard people who live abroad speaking about how split they feel having two home countries. But having a ‘divided’ heart doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.


Wall, Norway. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Wall, Spain. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Instead of seeing it as something negative and destructive, isn’t it preferable to see ourselves as having a heart that has room for both, or all, our home countries, wherever we have happened to hang our hats?


Norwegian yellow. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Spanish yellow. Photo © Karethe Linaae


Even if at times our homesickness can be almost painful, it is still a true privilege to be able to live and create a home base across country borders. So if you, like I, at times long for your original homeland, do so with joy. It is OK to have your heart in two countries.


Between islands. Photo © Karethe Linaae
2 comments Add yours
  1. Thank you for this. I’ve always seen things a bit black and white: wanting to commit my heart to just one place, just one cause, etc. I’m learning this doesn’t have to be the case. When my partner and I travelled to Croatia from BC Canada we discovered that we love it there as much as our home, and it became really really hard to say goodbye. I love BC more than ever before, but I also love Croatia deeply and miss it almost every day. Your post inspires me to try to integrate the beauty of this instead of just feeling torn.

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