This is it.

A and I moved to Norway almost eight years ago. I’d like to say that we both knew what we were getting into, but the reality is, we didn’t have the slightest idea of what that actually meant. If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s like the scene where Dr. Strange for the first time has an out-of-body-experience, only it’s been like that ever since we moved.

Dr Strange - Out of Body
Dr Strange – Out of Body gif

We’re very grateful for all the incredible opportunities that we’ve been given. Part of that is us working ourselves senseless (but we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t absolutely loved it) and although work is exhausting, the rewards have been unbelievably amazing. We’ve also been through some dark valleys. It’s unsettling, really, when all of a sudden you have that deep guttural feeling of existential fear, making you doubt your greatest achievements.  But that’s life, with great joy comes great sorrow.

We moved to Norway for a better life, and so A could get his PhD. I had not the slightest clue what that meant. You mean to tell me that there are doctors out there who technically could say “yes” when the flight attendants ask if there was a doctor on board but who in theory couldn’t safe a life? What’s the point of that? While I am not going to debate the necessity of this, I understood that A felt a calling. He wanted understand human behavior and policies and how we could improve daily experiences for people. It’s really admirable, but for someone like me this all seemed a tad ridiculous. But I went along, because life is an adventure…

Over the years, I saw A transform into the most amazing person, which was quite spectacular, given that to me he was already pretty awesome before any of this PhD life took over. But it’s like when you get to witness a baby turtle buried in sand dig itself out of the ground. It’s small movements at first, but then eventually, they emerge triumphantly before they collapse exhausted.

blackleather turtles
Black-leather turtles emerging out of the sand on Turtle Island, Malaysia

Over the past eight years, there were days and weeks when family and friends would insinuate that A would never finish his PhD. And I believe that A sometimes also went to that dark corner in his mind, where he thought it was all for nothing. But I never wavered, I never doubted, because I firmly believe that everything started needs to be finished and, I don’t know how to quit anything. There is a good chance that I’m still a member of several gyms, because I simply don’t know how to quit the contracts… That being said, I had no doubt in my mind that one day A would have the initials in front or after (I don’t know how PhDs do it…) his name.

A couple weeks ago, the day finally came and A successfully defended his dissertation and finally has the initials that for so long were just like an elusive whale. You know they’re out there somewhere but you just don’t know where to look for them and then, all of a sudden they’re right in front of your face… It was two magical days, where I got to see A work his hardest and he did it so effortlessly. There was not a moment of hesitancy, not a moment of fear, not a moment of doubt, it was all just knowledge, and confidence, and a glowing beam of happiness. It’s like when you watch glassblowers blow these freaking hot thing right in front of their faces, quick calculated movements, and in the end the most magnificent glass sculpture… A was just like that, only, at the end of it, he was the magnificent end product (this analogy got a bit away from me… just go with it).

I had so many tears streaming down my face, it was border-line ridiculous, but I just couldn’t help it, the full velocity of the decision we made eight years earlier hit me with full force. When we moved to Norway were just a couple of kids, really. We took a chance, jumped in the deep-end and figured, somehow everything was going to work out. See, we knew, we could live without each other, because we had done so for a long time, but we just didn’t want to, and now, so many years later, I can say fullheartedly I cannot live without A. He has a brilliant (and sometimes tortured) mind. He works like other people breath, and he does so day in and day out, and yet, he still finds time to just drop everything and meet me in London for a weekend… Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, before we went to Bergen (about an hour’s flight from Oslo, where A defended his dissertation), we went to London for the weekend, because it’s my city-happy place (because we all know, that I’m all about oceans…).

A is finally a Dr., I’d like to say his life has changed drastically since, but it hasn’t really, having the degree was only the tip of the iceberg. Our lives have changed amazingly since we made the decision to move and although we’re still struggling tremendously (again – that’s just life), it’s been breathtakingly beautiful and I wouldn’t change it for the world. So yes, after so many years, after so many long nights, so many incredibly frustratingly stressful hours, after millions of headaches, and the seemingly never-ending quest of getting the three letters… This is it.

First day in Oslo, August 2011
First day in Oslo, August 2011
Dr. A and me, in Bergen, June 2019
Dr. A and me, in Bergen, June 2019

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