Last week something beautiful happened in Oslo: The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and Concert was held (among a few lower-profile things, like the Children's Peace Prize Party and the torch walk down Karl Johans gate, Oslo's main thoroughfare and prettiest street). The entire week was a celebration of this 114-year-old tradition, and the city buzzed with a life that, I assume, is similar to the end of war.
Now I don't know what the city was like when Obama won, or the EU, or anyone else for that matter, but this year seemed...like it was probably something special. The winners were the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet: three men and one woman working to create pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution in 2011. That was when the president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was ousted. Tunisia could've fallen culprit to the same human atrocities that afflict other poorer nations, but with the Quartet's work, democracy has successfully been established.
Clearly, this was a big year for Tunisia. A big year for democracy. After Paris, San Bernadino, and far too many other locations experiencing grief due to radicalism, a week celebrating peace was just what the world ordered. Tunisians spilled into the streets, chanting and singing, enveloping everyone in their energy and fervor. I was even interviewed for Tunisian TV (!) and surely did terribly. In a strange turn of events, no one's contacted me yet to let me know. But let's back up.
Thursday was the Children's Peace Prize Party. At first, I assumed this meant introverted, suspender-donning child geniuses throughout the world were finally receiving the recognition they deserved. Instead, a group of 50 or so children gathered to watch local music acts (all 18 and under) perform and then sit with the Quartet and ask them questions. For starters, the kids picked the acts, and they were weirdly hip. Dubstep dances to sweet remixes of 80s music; kids who just exited the toddler stage rapping (to chants of "Neesu! Neesu! Neesu!"); teenage girls twerking it in "BRONX" sweatshirts. Very weirdly American. But once they got out their childlike angst, the Quartet came out (with the Princess of Norway!) and sat for some casual interviewing.
Hopefully when the kids turn 35, they'll realize how awesome their lives are. When I was their age, the coolest person I had ever seen was the girl who starred in the local high school's production of Oklahoma!.
Children's activities over, that night was the torch light walk. Tunisian flags waved high and proud, and 500 people marched down Oslo's main drag, setting the sky ablaze with handheld fire. To see a group that's experienced such turmoil — a group that's experienced life like I luckily never will — exude and evoke such joy was something other-worldly. I hope I never forget the picture I have in my head.
The streets were all decked out with Christmas decorations, and "Winterland," a Christmas market, was across the street from the stopping point: the Grand Hotel. And grand it is: if you're pictuing marble, burgundy wall coverings, black, pearl-y chandeliers, and Martha Stewart-approved Christmas trees, you're on the money. Every year, the winner(s) comes out onto the center balcony and waves to their adoring fans. Seeing 500 torches marching toward them in solidarity must've been quite the sight.
With Thursday night over, the only thing left (well, that I was invited to. I wasn't allowed to the actual ceremony, where people like KINGS AND QUEENS gather) was the concert on Friday. There were four highlights: Aurora, Jay Leno, Emel Mathlouthi, and the beautiful men in the lobby. Let's talk about Aurora first. If you don't know how fucking unbelievable this 19-year-old is, watch this video (from the actual concert). I'm obsessed.
Ohmigod. Just...ohmigod. Staring into her eyes, I just feel this massive...trance of emotion. Seeing her live was quite literally paralyzing; she was the opening act, and you could feel the audience sort of furrowing their brow in a sense of disbelief. Who is this girl, and how in the world is that soul inside her emanating from such a small body?
After Aurora left, Jay Leno came on and did his funny man bit. He apologized for the Kardashians, and kept it adequately real. Jason DeRulo also performed, but the next mic drop was by Emel Mathlouthi. Pretty sure I teared up. Behind her was the translation of the song, and it was like drinking too much red wine after your boyfriend breaks up with you and spending the night wailing to Maya Angelou. Check out this vid from the concert (see if you can spot me!)
...RIGHT?! Jeebus. Holy cow. No words. Just tears.
Let's not end this post in tears, though. Let's end it with the pool of men that filled the Telenor Arena's lobby. Beautiful, slender, 6'5"-on-average-probably men in suits all classy enough to attend the Nobel Prize concert. God, imagine if OkCupid mirrored this selection. I'm pretty sure I was staring and muttering, "Oh dear God, they're all tall and beautiful" out loud, and repeatedly. To their faces. It's probably what older white men feel like when they first get to Asia, only my odds were less good. That's okay, though; I'm simply happy knowing rooms like that exist. Maybe one day, I'll find another one. After I move to Norway, of course.