“I was seven when my father died. Ten years later my mother died, too. The summer after my mother’s death I went to stay with my brother for two weeks. He lived and studied in Rotterdam, and had written me in for a course in Delft although he hadn’t received any reply. When I was staying with him, permission was given to start the course. So I came to Holland on a visit, with a bag full of summer clothes, and ended up staying and studying here.
I remember my first time in Amsterdam very well. The colourful, rattling trams everywhere. I wanted to come back! I thought Amsterdam was like a playground, especially in the summertime.
In 1989 I came here to live. My brother left for New York and through his friends I found an apartment in Amsterdam. I just went there to live, without any plans. My brother had advised me, ‘If you think someone’s sitting there waiting for you in Amsterdam, you’re very wrong. You need to do everything yourself.’ So I followed his advice and went from one waiter job to the next. Finally, I graduated as a graphic designer and now work from home - the same apartment.
I’ve only been back to Norway four times since that summer holiday. I don’t have many ties there anymore and my friends like to come to Amsterdam to visit me. That’s Amsterdam. I hate all the diaries people keep here. In Norway you visit others more spontaneously. Happily, my house has an open-door policy. It used to be a hotel, so it’s all just Karma.
Two years ago my friend, Mickey, died. He had a heart attack on the tram. It was too much. The police called me to come home. Mickey was a musician and on his way to a gig. He died with his boots on. I turned in on myself at this point. Walked every day through the Vondel forest, which is what I call the Vondel park as it makes me think of the Nordic forests. I listened to the Chilean and Brazilian music...all this helped me through. There are a few places in this park which are full of trees. I stand there and watch, smell and hug those trees. Nature can do wonders for your state of mind.”
415 people in Amsterdam have the Norwegian nationality.