No more Copenhagen
Being back in Denmark was an odd rollercoaster of feelings. I didn't feel as much sadness about leaving as I had thought I would, though being surrounded by colleagues and old friends telling me that we were making the right decision probably helped there. The general suckiness of our life in Copenhagen must have been pretty clear to everyone. Or more realistically expressed, I did a good job of telling everybody how sucky things were while we were there. But what was interesting was how my feelings about being in Copenhagen changed radically from day to day on this trip. The first night we got in, we went out for a walk around town and had dinner at a well-known cafe, Cafe Sommersko. We paid too much for beers and hamburgers, but in general, it felt pretty good to be back. The weather was unseasonably warm (thanks again, global warming. I'll send that check off to Al Gore soon), and the city was so beautiful and felt so much more alive than most American cities, with people out walking and riding their bikes. We strolled through the old part of downtown and looked at familiar spots. Copenhagen is beautiful.
The next couple of days were more of a blur as we struggled with jetlag, not sleeping until 5am, just in time for sunrise, and caught up with friends and started the goodbyes. We got to spend the night with our good friends Martin and Louise in their new home, a completely renovated school house in the country near the beach. They live surrounded by a cornfield, have a five minute walk to the ocean where fishermen bring up daily catches of plaice and blue mussels, and can see the water from their front room. Well done. We were feeling pretty good about Denmark, at least for other people's version of it.
Come Monday, it was back to reality as we struggled with making the arrangements to move and ship the rest of our belongings. I had been trying to get a straight answer about shipping quotes for weeks in advance with no luck, so I was left to sort it out in Copenhagen. Add in a truly bizarre set of encounters with the owner of a Danish outpost of Mailboxes, Etc., and by Tuesday night, I was very much over the entire country. I just wanted to go someplace quiet and wait for the plane to take us home. Fortunately, by Wednesday, we had sorted out the shipping details, during which time I was reminded of a key survival detail in Denmark: if you want to something done and done correctly, you're better off asking a Danish woman to do it for you. After weeks of run-around with shipping companies in the US and Denmark, an efficient and friendly Danish woman at Fairplay Shipping whipped the whole thing into shape in about 30 minutes, and saved us money to boot.
That night, we went to our favorite pub in Copenhagen, Bankeråt. After a few beers, it felt like we had never left and that the flight to Seattle and our lives there was a distant reality. Of course, in our case, it also meant a reminded us of how broke and bored we were so much of the time we lived there. The stress of the week and a day of moving boxes finally cut up with us and we called it an early night.
Throughout our trip, the question of whether we'd ever come back came up a lot, understandably. After living there a year, there's not much pressing reason for us to go back, and our next trip(s) to Europe are likely to take us to Paris and Rome, though I'd also like to spend some time on the British Isles outside of London. And then there's Tokyo and Vietnam to visit as well. It's odd to think that I probably won't go back to Denmark for quite some time, conceivably for years or perhaps never, as my relationship with Denmark and the Danes has been a defining factor in my life, particularly up through college. I'm not really sure how I feel about it all right now; some sort of mixture of lingering anger over our difficulties there and melancholy at such a clearly ended chapter leavened with a readiness to move on and vigorous anticipation for my future in Seattle with Sara.