I was on the mainland. I was in Oslo, Norway. It was good to be here, after so long. It had been too long.
I am originally - that is to say, my family is from the outskirts of Oslo. I grew up here. From Kindergarten to Upper Secondary (I believe it is called Grades 11 and 12 in the USA), I was here. And then for higher studies, I moved away.
Ever since I was a child, I've been fascinated with nature. My father used to scold me because I used entire rolls in my first camera (it was a long time ago) to take pictures of the mountains and the lakes instead of the people I was with. But out of all of nature, perhaps my favourite part was water - a source of life and death. Of course, without water, a human cannot survive for long, but did you know that most accidental deaths are caused by drowning?
I was a very good swimmer. Won competitions in school, and looking back, I admit I used to show my skills off quite a bit - to friends, to cute girls, to whoever would give me the attention. So I decided I wanted to study water - the lakes, the seas, the oceans, whatever I could study.
So I went to Norway's northern-most region: Svalbard. The only university there offered a program that I found very appealing - marine biology. Svalbard is an isolated piece of land that falls under Norwegian constituency but is far away from the mainland. You have to take a flight out to get in and out of Svalbard, no other way. I spent four years as a student there and came home only for the summers. And then the university hired me, and I had not been home for these last two years.
Between extensive research behind a computer and looking at the flora and fauna of the Arctic Ocean, I had little time to go home. Eventually, after some success with some studies, my supervisor was generous enough to allow me to go back home for a month and two weeks.
I was out at the bar with old friends, when my phone interrupted me. Drinking in Oslo, I guess I should be thankful that my caller stopped me from spending all my money at the bar. It was my supervisor. They wanted me to come back in the next three days. Three days? I still had three weeks of my vacation left.
"Maksim, we want to send you out on the ferry. We want you to go down there. I don't want you to throw this opportunity away"
And that sealed the deal. That sealed my fate. I left two days later. Bid my friends and family goodbye and left to pursue what had always been a dream.
I wish I had not answered that call. I wish I had never left. But wishing does not change the past, I had signed my own fate, turning my dream into a horrid nightmare.