After a trip, especially one where you find yourself in a very different environment, you can have a very eye opening experience when you come back home. In many ways it’s like going to the same spot on a river bank that you’ve visited many times and realizing that it isn’t the same river that you visited the last time you were there.
Well it’s been a week and I haven’t really slowed down to get to the journal to tell about what I saw in Denmark and what I’ve been dealing with back home. But I got some inspiration from readers and writers I know so I’m movin’ ahead.
Copenhagen was a real surprise. I thought living in DC gave me an understanding as to what ‘cosmopolitan’ meant. Well, that’s going up on the shelf somewhere. In Copenhagen I met a Chinese dude who spoke, well, Chinese (Mandarin), a little Cantonese, Vietnamese, French, Danish, English, Swedish, and German; he’s lived in Copenhagen since he was five.
Sheila and I had a cab driver from Palestine who lived there since 1969, one from Pakistan who moved there in ’75, and we walked around the city with a Swede who has made Copenhagen his home for eighteen years. While most of the people certainly look, well, Scandinavian, there are whole lots of different looking, and sounding, folks calling it home!
It is an amazing hang out city. On our way to a tour bus we passed a bar, at 10:45 AM Sunday morning that was jamming! I mean really jamming like it was 10:45 Saturday night.
Everybody we talked to was friendly. The only complaint I have was that when there was a line up for something, like getting into a place, it was like all of a sudden NYC and don’t even think of slowing down for fear of being stampeded. And the beer was great. There are so many breweries there, and many micro-breweries. In some places in the city neighborhoods take their identities from the beer made in them.
Oh yeah, the tour. We saw authentic Viking ships, lovingly restored through a twenty-five year process after they had been discovered. We visited a burial mound (Sheila went in, I climbed on top of it…way too claustrophobic to go in!), and dinned at an inn built in the 1600’s. The old part of the city has a charm that can only be found, I’m told, in Europe.
There is a year long celebration of Hans Christian Andersen’s 200th birthday and there many places that had white shoe prints outlining places where he was known to have walked. I passed on seeing the Little Mermaid as I found out that actually seeing it is a real let-down (its small and always crowded). Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” helped me get through a very rough childhood. While I wouldn’t necessarily call him my favorite storyteller, he ranks way close to the top!
But…home is still the best place. Look, I love meeting new people, fitting my energy into the wide open spaces of undiscovered territories. But coming home was soul stirringly great too. And I’m not just talking about seeing the children here. I’m just talking about being in your own nest, with your own stuff. Being in the place where you’ve chosen to roost. Being, hell, just being in a place where you are comfortable…
I’ve been noticing little things and how much I take them for granted. Like deodorant and full seized cars, three dollar a gallon gas being cheap compared to what they pay in Europe, how some Americans actually have an appreciation for line etiquette (“I think that guy’s been here longer than me, you should take his order first!”), the many different versions of English spoken within a five or six mile radius of my house, food I’m boringly familiar with, and, did I mention deodorant?
Vacations spent in far away places remind me of how differently time can flow. Days in Copenhagen were almost endless, back home here they fly by in a blur at times. (Like I’m some kinda travel expert here! This was the first time I ever had a passport kiddies!)
Next up: a family excursion to the Piedmont of Virginia…Charlottesville and Wintergreen. And I’ll be ever grateful to get back Monday night.
Back home where I come to spaces where I think I’m in a familiar place and like a river they’ve changed.
Go with the flow…