I packed up and cleaned up at Toby's in the morning, walked to the bus stop and rode ticketless to the train station. Then I paid for my train ticket and rode to the airport. After checking my bag and clearing security I played "A Song is Swallowed by a Fish" on a grand piano that was in the terminal. Then I flew to Bodø.
On the walk from the Bodø airport to find my accommodations there was a moose standing in the path. It was a young moose that I read as feeling nervous. I warned a fellow traveler who was wheeling a roller bag to wait for the moose to pass. He looked at me like I was crazy and kept walking. Five paces later the moose pawed the ground and snorted aggressively and the man came running back in my direction quite startled. "We've just got to wait for him to pass," I told the man. He agreed.
A small crowd gathered under the gray sky and took pictures of the moose from a safe distance until it made it's way into the forest between the airport and the houses of a neighborhood. I kept walking and met a nice old man who told me his son lived in Ohio and loves it there. He asked if I was lost. I wasn't particularly lost but I liked talking to him so I told him the address I was looking for anyway. He pointed me in the direction of a stark, modern three story apartment building, and walked with me until we'd reached the threshold of the parking lot. He said good bye and wished me good luck.
Mona, my air b n' b host, buzzed me in. She showed me a small bedroom with a ladder for decoration. It was clean and comfortable. She asked me if it would work. I told her it would. She showed me on her computer the places I could find dinner and the weather report for the week to come in the Lofoten Islands. She'd never been there. She had a child and I think she was divorced.
She was very patient and generous toward me. I also thought she was beautiful. I tried to hide this thought. She was smart though and probably knew that I thought that and was trying to hide it. As I was leaving to go find dinner she told me she'd be gone early in the morning but to help myself to coffee and breakfast from the refrigerator. She opened it up and showed me a traditional kind of Norweigan cheese that she told me I should try.
I told her I would and walked out into the evening. It was a short walk to the downtown. Most of the restaurants looked like they were for tourists and expensive. I went to the one Mona recommended and had a cheeseburger and two beers. The waitress and bartender were cleaning up and listening to popular hip hop music by the time I'd finished eating but they were nice and told me not to rush.
I paid the bill and went for a walk around the docks looking at the boats and the rocky islands. It struck me that this town is a former outpost. Fisherman and hunters came here. It was a port where you could access the arctic to kill whales or land mammals to make coats out of. Only recently had it grown into tourism and commerce. Somebody would later tell me that the nation's military had a big presence there.
I saw big fish swimming in the relatively clear water of the marina and thought about this was the sort of place on the edge of the wilderness I learned about from my father. I remembered how he, Brendan and I loved taking these trips, and later I brought a long Mike Lippenholz, and Jeff and Dan. I assumed at the time that we'd keep taking those trips until we were old. My father's gone though, and all those other boys are fathers themselves now.
It was a haunted feeling being way out there on my own with this realization. The next morning I'd be crossing the arctic circle. I walked slowly back to Mona's through the half light of the neighborhood. It was quiet and dark in the apartment. I did my best to shower quietly and find my way to bed. It was very comfortable and warm. Rain was falling when I fell asleep, and I slept soundly the whole night through.