It was a grey and rainy morning on Sunday in Ålesund, but when Rasmus and I hopped into the car and turned on the country station, it felt like summer. We drove for forty five minutes through winding roads alongside massive mountains overlooking the fjords; the dramatic landscape adding effect to this exciting day. It was like something out of a movie.
As we drove Rasmus said to me, “are you nervous?” As Faith Hill’s “Wild One” appropriately played in the background. I just smiled and said, “No way! This is so cool!”
We drove past beautiful farmhouses nestled beside the water, with sheep grazing beside them. We passed log cabins with grass roofs, and a shepherd dog jogging down the road. The fog and clouds floated above the fjords, the roads were slick with water, my windshield was dewy with mist, and the mountains poked through the tops of the clouds; just like in my dreams.
At eleven o’clock we arrived at a dirt driveway where the map indicated the address was, and we drove in. I wasn’t sure if it was the right house, but then I saw Monica poke her head through the front door. As we walked up to the door I was taking in the scene: a beautiful white country cottage with a stone base, a garden enclosed with a picket fence and a big grassy yard overlooking the fjord.
Monica greeted us with the cheeriest of smiles “Brooke! I can’t believe it’s you!” she looked and sounded exactly the same as she had twenty years ago. As I hugged Monica and her now grown twins I couldn’t help but peek over their shoulders to admire the gorgeous details of the home, a small spiral staircase leading up to a loft, the sun radiating through the windows, and the peaceful and quiet atmosphere.
She invited us into her living room, a bright sunny room, with two fluffy dogs jumping around. We sat down on a sheepskin covered sofa, and one dog immediately fell asleep next to me. The twins had grown up so much since I last saw them at two years old to now being eighteen! It was all surreal.
Monica made coffee in the kitchen, asking me how things were through the open door. When she came back in we ate the chocolate cake I had brought and drank coffee. We chatted for an hour about the old times at the barn, what they’ve been up to over the last many years, and I told them about me and Rasmus. It was almost as nothing had changed, except that I became an adult and much chattier than I had been as a child! She looked right at me and said, “You look exactly the same, just grown up!”
Then I asked Monica about how she went from growing up in Ålesund, Norway to living in America back in the 1990s. Well, it’s an amazing story, and probably best saved for another time. Let’s just say her story involves a leap of faith, a ski pass in Colorado, a VW van, sterilizing cows in Montana, a long drive to NYC, luxury porcelain in Philadelphia, and a summer at the Jersey Shore. This Jersey Shore summer is what led her to her farm life, where my family and I met her. Monica then brought out a stack of old photographs and showed me her story through images. I then realized that I think her spirit for adventure and “make it work” attitude must have really rubbed off on me as a young child!
I think that everything we do or are led to happens for a reason. For some reason, I felt compelled to find Monica and reunite with her. What are the odds of me taking riding lessons from a Norwegian woman in New Jersey in the 1990s, to losing touch with her for 15 years, then me marrying a Norwegian man who happens to be from her Norwegian hometown, where she now lives again, and us reuniting over coffee and cake at her cottage in Norway? It’s amazing, and I feel so happy to have found her, it felt like things had come full circle. Saying goodbye was bittersweet. Monica had said, “sweet and shy little Brooke has grown up to be a beautiful and confident woman,” and I felt so honored.
Monica has touched the lives of so many young girls who started their riding careers at her little riding school in New Jersey, and we all missed her so much – this is something I’ve come to further realize since all the messages I received about Monica since my last post!
Until next time…. <3