Dried grass and straw smells like France. Here where the mountain gets more rough, the snow has mostly melted, small streams cobble and the evening falls. Here it feels like France after a long summer day. A bird in a leafless tree silhouetted against blueish pink evening sky, sharply contrasted against the dark waving mountains. The little bird sings to me a serenade, as I watch and listen. Softly allowing myself a little awe, a little wonder. Houses scattered beside the roads, up the steep hill behind fragrant yellow fields. Some below, following the streams, steadily increasing in size and sound, fed by the melting snow. Slowly overflowing the rocks that used to guide its path, widening, beating against ice-covered grasses glistening in moonlight like icicles. Moss punctured by small seedlings, most with their heads still buried beneath the ground, some bravely sticking up their first little leaves, folded together in embrace against the earliest spring cold. Ready to release as the next sun rays dawn upon its green. Not now. Now its time to sleep.

The last light and the last birdsong stretching the day into a fading grey, calm lay on the village. It is quiet here, no cars pass at this hour, no one walks here but me. I am learning to see the small things, to smell France while in Norway. My mind is quiet enough to hear birds sing and appreciate newly born seeds. Remnants of an uneasy mind are still present in my cells, quiet, but there. Quietly stressing in the back of my mind. A familiar anxiousness that I might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. A perpetual FOMO, slightly raising my heartbeat. It took effort to get out today, to release the need to know whether it was the best decision. I’m learning to be kinder to that voice, to be kinder to the decisions I do make. I’m learning that I am safe even if I do not make the Best Decision today. I’m learning that small steps are ok and that I can listen to her without being spurred into restless seeking. Ensuring best options or hiding away. Running in a frenzy towards a great adventure or away from myself.

I can breathe.

I have space in my mind for beauty. A grey veil of uncertainty has been lifted. Grasses and flowers have started to smell and colours became vibrant. My world has been upgraded from early 60s colour television and small screens to vibrant Technicolor and scenic 3D. The beauty of a tree now manages to catch me off guard, like she’s waving to me. I climbed out of my fear-filled mind, that I moved in like a hermit. Small but seemingly safe. Caught behind bars of violent self-talk ensuring me that outside everything I would meet would mirror ugliness. That it was safer to stay in and hide. That ‘they’ didn’t really want me there anyway. Turns out the outside world is quite friendly once I let her in. Slowly now, step by step. I see that really, people are here to help me, that really life is quite beautiful. And that truthfully I am made to handle it.

Walking higher in the mountains makes my head clear. The air is light and nature abundant. No towering buildings or mountains beside me. On top of the world the air is thinner. Fog in my mind lifts naturally and as sun through clouds I encounter simple beauty. I’m learning to take the mountains home with me. I build her a new home inside my mind, one that is not a prison. One that is high and fresh and free. Where there’s freedom to roam through grassy fields, where she can see far and wide. Where there is space for her to be who she is. Where we can breathe.

The dark still can catch me off guard. Creating hiding places to be filled with imagination. An empty street becomes a battleground. Breathe. The stars and the moon are welcome companions, but I also know, that it’s okay to go back when I fear. That I don’t have to press myself against the dark, against the corners where my fear lives, one too many times. That I can go back when it feels right. That there’s nothing I have to prove. That I can breathe.