My watch died my last day in Norway. This watch was also my only alarm and I had to wake up at four in the morning to board a plane back to the US. I was staying in an alarm-clock-free hostel and unwilling to spend my last few kroner to fix a watch. The solution was simple. I’d have to stay up all night.

It was a good decision. No part of me wanted to leave Norway. I welcomed the excuse to make the most out of my last few hours in the country I’d fallen in love with, where I’d lived and taught for a few way-too-short months.

Normally I love coming home. When the passport crew stamps my little blue book and utters the mandated “Welcome home to America,” my eyes literally fill with nationalistic pride. (And no, I’m not a Republican.) But Norway was different. I was desperate to stay, but a million things (a lack of a visa, a boyfriend, a college degree to finish) were pulling me back home. The last thing I wanted to do was catch that flight. At least that watch battery was on my side.

I headed out around nine. Being wintertime, the sun had set hours ago but the snow and moonlight brightened up the sky. I stopped at a convenience store to buy one last block of brown cheese. Then I took a tram down to the fjord so I could stare out at the cold gray water and enjoy the strangely sweet cheese.

I meandered back into town, wandering through side streets and past apartments and stores, closed for the night. It was snowing lightly, but not cold. White candles dotted darkened windows and laughter spilled out of cozy pubs.

My aimless wandering brought me to an open air ice rink in front of the Royal Palace where the last of the skaters were turning in their rentals. I offered the man a little extra and he said I could stay on the ice all night and leave the skates next to the rink – they’d be okay until the morning.

So I skated. I circled that rink a million times as I replayed every moment in those Trondheim bars and homes and schools and ski trails. I traced thousands of figure eights trying to convince myself that it was okay to leave my new favorite place in the world and head home. I skated as restaurants and bars closed and turned out their lights, leaving me alone in the middle of that ice rink on Karl Johans Gate. I’d never felt so safe and content. With every twirl and t-stop on the ice, I promised myself that I would come back. Soon.