But a new memory has appeared, of me, age 19 riding a bike along a country road in Norway. My parents, sister, and I were staying at an inn somewhere in the countryside and my parents had agreed that I could rent a bike and take a ride by myself. Looking back, this may be my first memory as a ‘adult’ of taking off independently. For years my parents had let me bike all over town, both alone and with friends, so that wasn’t new, but biking alone in a foreign country was. I remember talking with my parents about it and then encouraging myself to actually get on the bike and take off. I recall biking on a flat road along a lake and after a half hour or so deciding I’d better turn back so no one would worry about me. I, however, was not worried or afraid, and that freedom has remained with me throughout all my solitary travel.
What brought this memory forth, this memory which is now so visceral? I’ve been reading The Storm Sister, the second in a series by Lucinda Riley, about a young woman who searches for her roots in Norway. This has led me to start rereading (slowly, one chapter a day) Astrid & Veronika, by my absolute favorite author, Linda Olsson, about two women, one young, one old, each living alone in rural Sweden, who develop a friendship. Why these books? I come back full circle for this love of solitude.