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  • Mathilde Fongen

In Transit

The other day, a colleague sent me a photo with the definition of the word "Notriphobia"; the fear of not having a trip planned. She was so right in sending it to me. Of course, there's no actual phobia, but I do pretty much always find myself with some sort of travel coming up. When I don't, I feel uneasy, like something's missing and realising this got me thinking about my own sense of place, my traveling and my relationship to the concept of home.


I've never lived in the same place for more than five years. A lot of people move a lot more than I have done, and a lot of people move less than that, but the point is that I've always been on the move and it has defined my relationship to home and place. I don't have a neighbourhood that's mine, and I don't have one childhood house where my parents still live. When people ask me where I'm from, I say Oslo, and then they ask what part and I say all of it. We've lived all over the city and now that I live elsewhere, Oslo as a whole is home to me. Even the touristy parts. Especially the touristy parts.


Photo: Fredrik A. Fongen. The start of our three months in South America

Travel has always been a big part of my life, ever since I was two and our parents took us to South Africa to visit our cousins. We moved to England and Croatia and we went on driving holidays around Europe. Later on I travelled to South America, met my other half and recently, moved to Scotland to live with him. I don't feel rooted to one place or one house and I don't have a sense of belonging to any specific neighbourhood. Maybe I look for that now as I step further and further into adulthood, but I wouldn't have my childhood be any other way. Movement and travel is part of who I am and I love that part of me. It has led me to all the people in my life and to where I am today.


I've been and am incredibly privileged to have been able to travel and I'm grateful for this partially nomadic lifestyle that now defines me. I know that I can't go on like this forever, and I'm okay with that, but for the time being, I'm happy moving around this much. In a weird way it stresses me out and soothes me at the same time. In true me-like fashion, I'm writing this in transit, sat at Bergen airport waiting to board another flight. Last week was spent with my other half exploring Iceland and now I'm off to see family and friends in three different parts of Norway.


My boyfriend and I were long distance for over four years, which is when I started to travel on a monthly basis. I never really traveled alone. I traveled to visit him, or to visit friends who lived in other places. It was always to connect and maintain my relationships and that's still the case. That's what happened when I moved from Norway to Scotland. I wasn't in a long distance relationship anymore but only with my boyfriend. I'm now in a long distance relationship with my family and most of my friends.


I would like to settle down somewhere, buy a house and create a home and I'd like to think that I'll feel at ease when I do. I don't know where it will be and I'll still need to travel to visit family and friends, but I do hope to slow down a little. As much as I love this constant movement and as much as it is a part of who I am, it would be nice to let my roots settle a little. I guess I'm looking for a new definition of home, a word that is now rooted more in people than places. A word with an ever changing, ever moving definition. A word in transit.

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