(CNN) — When Ida Skibenes pulled up exterior the Solstrand Hotel, her abdomen was in knots, flipping between nerves and pleasure.
The Solstrand is one in every of Norway’s most stunning inns, positioned simply exterior of Bergen, framed by fjords and residential to over 125 years of historical past.
Every yr, Ida’s Bergen-based office decamped to the dreamy surrounds of Solstrand for a couple of days of distant working. That yr, 2014, was Ida’s first on the firm. Her colleagues had regaled her with tales of Solstrand and she or he was excited. But her pleasure wasn’t actually about escaping from the town and enjoyable among the many mountains. It was all about Hanna Aardal.
Hanna was Ida’s coworker. When Ida began on the firm, the 2 rapidly clicked, however they had been in completely different locations in their lives. At the time, Ida was married, and targeted on her relationship and settling into the brand new job. Meanwhile, Hanna was a single guardian whose teenage daughter had simply moved to the US to review for a yr.
But because the months rolled on, their circumstances modified. Ida’s relationship fell aside, and she or he went by means of a divorce. Hanna adjusted to her daughter being overseas, and began spending extra time socializing with coworkers. With time, Hanna and Ida grew nearer.
“Our energies matched,” is how Ida places it. “It was always more fun to be at work when Hanna was at work.”
“I think we kind of had the same kind of humor, so we became friends quickly,” says Hanna.
Hanna and Ida began working collectively on a enjoyable facet undertaking, a quick mockumentary in the vein of “The Office,” showcasing the quirks of their office. The movie was set to be screened on the Solstrand retreat.
The historic Solstrand Hotel in Norway performed an vital position in Hanna and Ida’s relationship.
The two labored on the undertaking out of hours, and began sharing common dinners and drinks. They messaged frequently, typically texting each other goodnight.
Reflecting on this era in the present day, Ida and Hanna recommend they had been “dating without realizing.”
“I was used to dating men, and I had never been in a relationship with a woman,” says Hanna. “Looking back, it’s kind of obvious that we had feelings for each other.”
Ida did not know if Hanna could be open to courting a girl. And she did not know if her emotions had been reciprocated, or if they had been all in her head. Still, Ida felt there have been indicators suggesting the connection was one thing extra.
Just a few weeks earlier than the Solstrand journey, the 2 had stayed up late at Hanna’s dwelling, chatting. When, at 2 a.m., Ida steered she ought to head dwelling, Hanna had taken her hand and requested her to not depart. It felt like a “turning point,” not less than to Ida. But she left all the identical — they’d each been consuming, and she or he felt the dialog needed to be addressed beneath completely different circumstances.
Solstrand, Ida determined, was the right alternative. Especially when Ida and Hanna had been coincidentally chosen to room collectively.
“I had feelings for Hanna, and I definitely had a crush on her,” says Ida. “But if it was all in my head, then I needed to clarify that. And we were going to work together. So I just decided that if we end up in the same room, that’s a sign for me to actually do something about it.”
Plus, Solstrand was a stunning, romantic setting.
“At least if she had turned me down, I wouldn’t be in like this dump somewhere. I would still be in a beautiful hotel,” jokes Ida.
Hanna (left) and Ida turned shut buddies in the lead as much as the Solstrand firm retreat.
Ida introduced up the subject on the finish of the primary day in Solstrand. It was late in the night, and the 2 ladies had been mendacity in their separate twin beds.
Hanna’s response stunned them each.
“I was kind of starting to say ‘I know that we have become close friends and everything, I love you like a friend.’ But then, while I was saying it, I realized that of course, it’s something more,” recollects Hanna.
“I freaked out when she told me that,” says Ida. ” I was like, ‘Wait a minute. This is not happening.'”
After the preliminary shock, the dialog continued.
“We talked, we kissed. And then we kind of just settled down and decided that we would figure things out eventually,” says Ida.
The subsequent day, Ida and Hanna had been preoccupied with a busy day of conferences and shows. They did not deal with what occurred the night earlier than, nevertheless it was a custom at their firm that everybody introduced greeting playing cards to their Solstrand roommates on the finish of the journey.
In Ida and Hanna’s playing cards, they put their burgeoning emotions in writing. And Ida excitedly messaged her shut buddies the information.
“I texted, like, three thumbs up, ‘We made out!'” says Ida.
“But other than that, we kept it quiet for a long time.”
Solstrand is surrounded by Norwegian fjords and mountains.
Hanna wanted a while to come back to phrases together with her newly acknowledged emotions.
“I had been in some relationships, but mostly I had been a single parent and very self-sufficient in a way, and not very good at close relationships. So I think it was really scary and exciting at the same time — and confusing.”
Both Ida and Hanna had been additionally conscious that they weren’t simply risking a friendship, however a working relationship too. For Hanna, this added to her trepidation.
“I think I was really afraid to mess things up between the two of us,” says Hanna. “Because we were working together, it would have had greater consequences if I messed up — which I guessed I would — at some point.”
Ida and Hanna took it slowly, however they steadily grew even nearer. Six months after their dialog at Solstrand, the 2 had been on one other work journey, and they determined they had been prepared to inform their colleagues. Later, again dwelling in Bergen, Hanna shared the information together with her daughter.
“She was really happy for us,” says Hanna, recalling that her daughter joked it might have been bizarre to have a man in their home of ladies.
“She came out to us, two years later, so it’s a very gay family,” provides Hanna.
Return to Solstrand
Ida proposed to Hanna on a return go to to Solstrand.
Hanna and Ida moved in collectively in 2016, not lengthy after they shared the information of their relationship with their family members. They began discussing marriage, and determined that, when the time felt proper, Ida could be the one to suggest.
“I love surprises, and Ida hates surprises,” Hanna explains.
Ida knew precisely the place she wished to suggest: Solstrand. Three years after they voiced their emotions aloud for the primary time, Ida and Hanna discovered themselves again on the historic hotel on the annual firm retreat. The firm had simply broadcast the normal workplace “mockumentary,” when Ida interrupted proceedings.
“She just got up in front of everyone and said, ‘There’s another video’ and she gave me a box of Kleenex because I’m a crier, I cry all the time. And then she had made this really sweet and romantic video with music, portraying our relationship, and ending with the proposal.”
Wiping away glad tears, Hanna stated sure.
“Would have been really awkward if I hadn’t,” she jokes in the present day.
Hanna and Ida bought engaged on the Solstrand hotel, and bought married in Bergen in 2022.
Ragnhild Storsletten Åse
“I was very nervous,” recollects Ida. “Maybe I told, like, a couple of people before we went, but five minutes before I was going to show the movie, I ran around and I told everyone.”
Her colleagues had been delighted, and inspired a panicked Ida to go for it.
“I had a complete meltdown, got two glasses of wine and two cigarettes, and then I was good to go,” says Ida.
“It felt very right to do it at that hotel with those people, because they’ve kind of tagged along for the entire entire journey of our relationship. So it was exciting, and a lot of fun. Especially the part where we got to celebrate with so many people that love us and want us to be happy.”
Following some postponed pandemic wedding ceremony plans, Ida and Hanna bought married in summer time 2022. The long-awaited ceremony came about exterior, in a Bergen park close to the couple’s dwelling.
“It was a really special celebration,” says Hanna, recalling a day of sunshine and festivities.
Embarking on a journey
Ida and Hanna hope to sooner or later rejoice 50 years of marriage collectively.
Hanna and Ida now not work collectively. When Ida left the corporate a few years in the past, her colleagues gave her a reward card for a romantic weekend away at Solstrand. The couple look ahead to returning, and hope sooner or later to rejoice 50 years of marriage at their favourite hotel.
Hanna and Ida describe their years collectively as far as a “fascinating and fun journey.”
“It’s been this feeling of having your best friend there, all the way. Like, whatever happens, you have your best friend, and it makes you feel like things are going to work out eventually,” says Ida, who provides that turning into a step guardian has additionally “changed her life” and taught her a lot.
Hanna says she’s discovered a lot from Ida too.
“Ida is very brave,” says Hanna. “She’s a lot wiser than me when it comes to relationships and emotions. And she is very brave in daring to talk about things, when things get tough.”
“We got close very fast and kind of have this complete trust in each other, so we can be ourselves. I’ve never been in such a close relationship before and it changed my life in many different ways. And also having a partner who also loves my daughter and being a family — a bigger family.”