Well before I set foot in Oslo this summer, I knew I’d miss Conor O’Neill nights with the crew, and movies at Boulder Outdoor Cinema and running amok in Nederland.
What I didn’t plan on missing was Chik-fil-A. Or boot-cut jeans.
And I didn’t think I’d miss Target.
And this was foolish on my part, because I spend so much time there. I’m one of those people that can’t exit the sliding doors without having spent at least $40.
I go in there, hell-bent on dryer sheets, and exit with a fabulous new scarf, a $5 movie, two boxes of Ritz crackers and plant food. Typically I’ve forgotten the dryer sheets.
I know I’m not the only one like this.
Here in the States, convenience is king. In Oslo, if we were making chili, we’d ping pong around town to different stores — one for vegetables, one for beans and meat, and another for tortilla chips. Luckily, I had a wingman.
I don’t like the Barenaked Ladies all that much, but the lyrics, “When the going gets rough, just shop with somebody tough,” come to mind now. Unchaperoned, I could spend hours wandering the streets looking for things. (But I won’t lie; I enjoyed that.)
From what I understand about Europe, this is standard operating procedure. There’s a smart way to shop out there, and I’m certain it involves another concept totally foreign to me: planning meals. One day you buy meat at the meat store. The next day you buy grains. Maybe you go shopping with the express intent to focus on one of the four food groups.
But that’s just food; my shopping lists are scattered and include incongruent things: chicken, the new Sookie Stackhouse book, eggs, a razor, ceiling hooks, Kitty-No-Puke cat food, a movie, kicky new lip gloss.
I defy any Norwegian out there to name a store where you can purchase a movie, lip gloss, eggs and a razor in one fell swoop. I bet I could get that done at a 7-Eleven here.
The closest I ever got to one-stop shopping was at H&M, a store I thought was based in Chicago that somehow made its way across the sea and up into the land of the fjords. Turns out, they’re headquartered in Stockholm.
In one section of Oslo, there are at least four or five H&Ms within blocks of one another.
My favorite was a block from the train station mall (which housed another H&M), and I went there almost exclusively because I couldn’t get over the Target-esque feel to one corner of the second floor.
There, next to the jeans and jewels, were umbrellas. And hair color. And face wipes. And flashlights.
I went into that store far too often for someone making $50 a week in the most expensive city in the world, but, on the other hand, I didn’t care.
When I left Oslo, I knew in my guts I’d miss friends, family and the leg lamp on the bar at Reyes.
What I didn’t plan on? Missing the sheer adventure built into something as simple as a shopping list.
Jeanine Fritz’s tales of consumer angst and other things appear in the Colorado Daily each Friday.