The One: My Daughter’s Love Affair With a Viking

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“He’s the one,” Allison announced three years ago.  These are three words I had never heard my 31-year-old daughter say.  I wasn’t surprised, really, because during the week that “the one” visited, my usually attentive daughter didn’t answer e-mails, texts, or phone calls.

There was evidence of her blossoming love in Facebook pictures of the two of them on the Brooklyn  Bridge, the two 487366_10100245683160880_1537872676_nof them drinking beer, the two of them watching a Jets Game, the two of them looking at each other.

I’m pretty sure that she was unaware that, as she was falling in love, the East River was breaching its shores just five blocks north.  Hurricane Sandy came and went, but that is not what moved their earth.

She hadn’t said, “He’s the one,” during the five years she lived with her last serious boyfriend.  She didn’t say it when she dated the architect, the psychiatrist, the stock broker, the stage manager, the teacher, the journalist.  No, all those men had unacceptable flaws:  the architect was too self-centered; the psychiatrist was overweight, the stockbroker was mired in a messy custody case, the stage manager was too flighty; the teacher was too needy; the journalist had child-sized hands.


She dismissed entire categories of men: Jewish men, not because of their religion, which she rather fancied, but because they come attached to Jewish mothers, and she had had enough of that with her last boyfriend; not native New Yorkers, who are hot in an urban urbane way, but also immature and not quite manly enough; not men who had household pets that ate crickets or fish or mice.

Allison had given up on love, she said, after she discovered that she and her best friend were unintentionally dating the same men they had both met on  The redundancy, she concluded, proved that she had simply dated every man in New York.


Allison and Henrik with Stacey and Grandma Lingo

Our family had come to the conclusion that Allison was going to be single forever, and that was okay with us.  She enjoyed her space, if fussing and cleaning and painting was evidence of enjoyment.  She liked to spend all day Sunday reading the New York Times.  She stayed up working until dawn, then slept the day away.  Since she could do her work as a legal recruiter anywhere she had Internet connection, she’d visit friends in far flung places, pounding a keyboard during the day and playing at night.

We were pretty sure she was not going to sacrifice her freedom for a man.  She would sacrifice it for a baby, though, a baby she would adopt from some developing country or conceive in a petri dish, but she didn’t really care to bring a baby daddy into the picture.

Until now.  Henrik was “the one,” and that changed everything.  So Henrik traveled across a vast ocean to visit her.  From Norway.  Far north in Norway, on a fjord, a word I was pretty sure I’d never have to learn how to spell.  He can see Santa from his house.

Henrik and Allison met at a club in Cancun, Mexico.  They danced the night away, then shared a cab back to the resort where both were staying.  He snapped his watch on her wrist to remind her to meet him for breakfast the next day.  She remembered breakfast, but by the morning he had forgotten her name.

They spent the rest of their vacation getting acquainted, going to church and the library together, I’m guessing.  After learning that Allison had lived in New York for eight years and Washington, D.C. for six, Henrik said, “I guess that’s why your English is so good.”  Henrik was under the mistaken impression that Allison was German. It had been loud in that club and communication was difficult.   I don’t know if they cleared up that misunderstanding before or after church.

I asked her, “What makes him ‘the one’?”5619_521617464557020_39037271_n

She took a deep breath, then exhaled words of endearment.  “He keeps a very thorough calendar. I love a good calendar.  He thinks I am seriously cute.  And I am.  He is willing to compromise, which is very important because I am completely inflexible.  He renovated the kitchen in his condo by himself.  I mean, the dude tore down a wall and built the whole thing from scratch.  He explained electricity to me.”

“Wow,” I said.  “He’s quite a catch.”

“And,” she added, “he isn’t scared to talk about marriage and kids, and he wants that.”

I always thought that Allison would find “the one” when she stopped looking, but she wouldn’t find him in Akron or Pittsburg or Cincinnati.  A Norwegian match sounds just about right for this globe trotter who is always ready for an adventure.

We raised her with the philosophy that you can never spend too much money on education or travel.  As teachers, my husband and I had more time than money, but we never let a summer go by without a trip.

We had a Ford conversion van that we used to explore the United States with the kids.  Then we started cruising, first to the Caribbean, then to Europe.  We believed in living within our means . . . even if it meant borrowing to do so.

Allison’s first solo trip was to Australia and New Zealand on the People to People Student Ambassador Program when she thirteen. This was the start of her many g’days galavanting around the world.


Gunnar, May-Sissel, and Oda Osvik in NYC

Of course, I vetted Henrik on FB.  His friends seem nice and polite.  One said,  “ær forsiktig Osvik! Alltid noe som skjer når du drar på tur! :) and another said,  “Hva med Sandy har du merka noe til den?? Nyt livet……”

I now “friend” everyone I come across on Facebook that seems Norwegian:  ones with unlikely consonant combinations in their names, like Knut and Bjorn; ones with names spelled with o’s with little lines through them; people who have pictures of themselves swimming in icy water.  Of course, I “like” everything they post, and if my name or my daughter’s appears, I use google translator to make sure they haven’t disparaged us.

Once I met Henrik and his family, I felt surer of the match.  Henrik seems to possess the exactly right proportion of unflappability, confidence, intelligence and humor to tolerate a Lingo woman. We can be real nøtteknekkers.


Henrik and Allison with Nathan and Stacey in OTR

What pleases me the most is that Henrik is demonstrative about his love for Allison.  He is not the least bit timid about hugging, kissing, and cuddling her in front of his parents.

He believes in rules, and he never breaks them.  He wouldn’t smoke pot with Allison in Amsterdam, where it’s legal, because he says you should follow the rules of your nation wherever you are.  He may be a good influence on a girl who never met a rule she couldn’t bend. His parents, a teacher and a plumber (which Henrik pronounces just how it’s spelled: “plum-ber”) love each other, their son, and our daughter.


Allison with Henrik’s sister, Oda

For two years, Allison and Henrik carried on an intercontinental love affair.  While they Skyped, she painted her nails, dusted her apartment, and fed her cat.  I can only hope that he just sat and admired her.  He called her, “Hawny,” and said, “Have a blost,” before he hung up.  He traveled to the U.S. seven times to visit her.

Allison also visited Henrik in Norway seven times.  After every visit I asked her, “Do you still love him?”  After a few visits, Allison said, “Mom, you can stop asking.”

The Osviks have dropped a fair amount of kroners and dollars to get acquainted with each other:  May-Sissel and Gunnar, and his sister Oda have been to the U.S. two times and Rick, Stacey have been to Norway twice.

Allison told Henrik she would live in any major city of the world, but she would not live on a fjord in a town that has six restaurants and a movie theater in the Y.  Henrik got a job and anapartment in Oslo.  In 2014, Allison and her 17-year-old cat moved to Oslo.

Although the cat had her visa (you think I’m kidding), Allison had to wait a year for a fiancé visa.  During that year, Allison had to return to the U.S. every three months and stay there for three months.  This has been a very arduous and expensive courtship.

Once Allison received that initial visa, Henrik and Allison scheduled a civil ceremony this July in the Oslo City Hall in order to expedite her residential visa.  Although she didn’t consider this her real wedding, many loving Norwegian family and friends joined them that day to support them.

While Allison and Henrik wait for an estimated nine more months for her residential visa, she can stay in Norway, but if she leaves, she won’t be able to get back in.


On the tram on the way to City Hall

Everyone asks how I feel about Allison’s move to Norway.  I think they assume I’m devastated and curled up into the fetal position.  But I don’t feel depressed.  I am proud that I have such an independent daughter, one who makes hard choices and follows her dreams.  I am proud that she is so smart and organized that she can figure out how to move—with her cat—across the Atlantic Ocean.   She’s followed her heart and her head.

Allison doesn’t ask for my advice, but I give it anyway, and she tolerates it.  I have told her that it’s normal to struggle for a while, figuring out how to live with each other.  I have told her to love him like her best friend, and he will become her best friend.


Bachelorette Party

I have told her she didn’t have to marry Henrik no matter how long they’ve been together.  And I have assured her that no matter how this love story ended, she wouldn’t regret this adventure when she was old like I am.

But she is resolute:  he is “the one.”

Tomorrow, Rick and I will rehearse for Saturday’s wedding at Landmark on the Park in New York City.  Friends and family will gather to witness their nuptials and wish them well, in Norwegian and in English.


Henrik in his national costume with second-cousins Marius and Martina, who will be in the wedding. In the background you can see the fjord by his family home.

This is a rehearsal for a wedding; there is no rehearsal for marriage.  People often say that marriage is hard work, but I don’t think that’s exactly right.  Marriage is a living thing that grows and blossoms with nurturing.  You get good at marriage by committing and loving every day.

Next week I will share pictures of the Viking wedding.  The guy in the middle wearing a hat with horns?  That’s “The One.”

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Smooching in Vigeland Park in Oslo

You may enjoy reading these posts about getting to know our Viking:

Norwegian Dinner:  It begins with a saw

Bite Nite:  A Fun Family Food Tradition

Role Reversal:  Traveling with Adult Children

You may enjoy these other posts about  love and marriage:

Never Marry a Thin Man

Life, Death, and Fish Tacos: The Absolutely True Story of a Medical Mistake in San Diego

Making Love:  The truth about a 43-year marriage

Three Weddings:  A Secret One, a Surprise One, a Long-Awaited One

Copyright © 2015 Sandy Lingo, All Rights Reserved 










  1. I have heard earlier versions of this piece, and I love how it has evolved as Allison and Henrik’s story continues. I can’t wait for you to write about the weddin!

    • Claudia, I started writing this a few months after they met, and I just keep adding to it. The last line about the groom with the horns in the wedding pictures was in the original edition, but at that point I never really believed this would all work out, but here we are!

  2. What a grand love story! You have raised two beautiful and independent women….how blessed are you!!

    • My girls are independent and strong women, to be sure, and I think they’ve both married men who are up to the challenge.

  3. that was lovely – I feel a bit like I know you all already! I love a good wedding so I’ll be back to check out the pics! Congrats to everyone and “the one” :)

    • Thanks so much for reading and responding to my blog. It is so gratifying to know that it resonated with you.

  4. I adore this post on so many levels, from this line: “The journalist had child-sized hands” to this one “They spent the rest of their vacation getting acquainted, going to church and the library together, I’m guessing.”

    Your love for your daughter shines through every word. You have given her an amazing gift. Congratulations to Allison and Henrik, and to their two families!

    • Your feedback is so generous, and it means so much to me that you cared enough to respond. Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope it continues to resonate with you.

  5. Allison’s journey getting to this wedding has been a grand adventure. I would expect nothing else of the wedding itself and future marriage. What fun it is to watch it all unfold through your eyes. It is no surprise that you and Rick have this charming daughter. She is just one of the book ends you have managed to nurture into beautiful women. Enjoy your weekend being the Mother of the Bride!

    • You are so sweet. As parents, we just do our best and hope they grow up happy. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you in class next term.

  6. Ooh! I can’t wait!!! What a perfectly imperfect love story.

    • So cool that you and your folks and Ryan will be here. We’ve been friends with your parents since before you were born.

  7. Marriage is a living thing that grows…So true! I’m looking forward to the wedding photos. What a whirlwind courtship. My niece married a Norwegian and has twins. She lived in Norway for two years, then moved to Boulder. Norway is such a beautiful country. You’ll enjoy your visits there. What an exciting time for you.

    • Hope you sign up for class this term. Thanks, as always, for your support.

  8. What a beautiful story about Allison’s “journy” in finding “the one”! When the rest of your life depends on “the one”……she was patient, persistent and ruled with her heart and mind!

    So smart to live with someone first to get “a feel” for that person….gone are the days when living with someone was “a sin.” Look at how many “wrong ones” she may have been stuck with!

    Marriage, for sure, is a life of growth and maturity…..I know I feel blessed every day to have Ken!

    • Maureen, I couldn’t agree more about living together. When my older daughter moved in with her boyfriend 15 years ago, I was embarrassed, but now I think it makes good sense.

  9. I loved reading this! Wishing I could be there to see this wedding. Awesome mothers have awesome daughters….makes sense to me!

    • . . . and sons!m We do our best and only hope they have happy lives.

  10. Can’t wait for the big event!

    • Love you! Hard to believe that our friendship began when Allison was just a few weeks old.

  11. What a great story. They all don’t turn out that way, but this sounds solid. Thank you

  12. Since my kids live all over the world too, I loved this article. It brought tears to my eyes, as I wish my kids lived closer, but, I am truly happy that they followed their dreams and not mime. Keep writing for all of us. Have a great weekend.

  13. Sandy you have done a beautiful job writing about the fairytale romance between Allison and Henrik. It is exciting that the wedding is finally here and their love will be celebrated by family and friends. Enjoy!

  14. What a beautiful love story!

  15. I’ve been saving this post to read when I got some free time to enjoy it. I am in Cleveland visiting my oldest at college this weekend. I’m glad I waited so I could savor it!
    Your daughter’s U.S. marriage will be a wonderful event! She does sound like an adventurous spirit – I chuckled reading about her trials and rejections of so many candidates (the journalist had childish hands – haha! ).
    Best wishes to your daughter and already husband on their new life together.

  16. This was really great. I loved the beginning to end (time order tale) . I am so looking forward to the rest of the story. Now that we have a glimpse of the firetruck, I really want to hear the tale, ha ha. This is not an ordinary story. Why not a firetruck?


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Sandy Lingo

Life itself is the proper binge.  - Julia Child

A writing friend said that when she reads my writing, she always wants a second helping.



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