I was driving through the Opera Tunnel towards the east end to look at one last apartment after a week of looking. I’d gotten a job in the city and so was moving my nature-loving girlfriend to the last place in Norway she’d expected to live.
Our search was not going well. With just my starting salary between us, we were priced out because I insisted on a second bedroom for family visits. We’d seen paint peeling from a bathroom ceiling, obscure utility payment schemes, and a balcony so close to E6 I bet I could have overheard the news from commuters’ cars as they went by. It was the city, exactly what my girlfriend had never wanted – and I was the one bringing her here.
It was with this feeling that I drove to Bøler for our final viewing. The owner of the apartment met us at the door and showed us around. It was two bedrooms, quiet, with a balcony that overlooked the woods and ski-in/ski-out access to a forest full of trails. My girlfriend was sold.
We went for a walk in the woods to talk it over. It was sunny and warm in late August. People were out on the trails, walking, running, and biking. I could hear children playing. It was perfect, better than what we had imagined possible, but the rent was beyond our already extended budget. We were worried there wouldn’t be enough left over.
We turned to head home. An elderly Norwegian man came along with his dog. To my surprise, he looked at me and gave me the slightest of nods – strictly against social norms in the city. I smiled, nodded back, and took my girlfriend’s hand.
"Did you see that?" I said.
"We can make it work," she said. We turned down all our other offers when we came to the car and signed at Bøler.
For the first few months, I took sandwiches to work instead of eating at the cantina. We bought First Price everything and stayed in on weekends until my girlfriend found work and I got a raise. A few months after that, the owner called us and said she wanted to sell. We took a walk, called back, and said we wanted to buy.