Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gone So Long

When we began our Danish adventure, I had visions of free time and writing wistful blog entries in cafes. I imagined moving back to the US with a complete book about my zany time living abroad, it would become a bestseller because all Americans would want to know about my adventures.

Turns out, parenting is all-consuming. Parenting in a foreign country with no family or close friends around for support completely engulfed me. I was submerged.

And now, here we are, with a mere six months left in our two years in Denmark. It has been wonderful, horizon-expanding, challenging and occasionally zany. It has also been incredibly tough.

We have assimilated. But we are still different.

I am completely used to understanding about 2% of the conversations I hear when I am out in public. I no longer notice the massive size of baby strollers here nor do I think that the number of strollers is astounding. (But it is) Riley even has a nice "Scandanavian-built" stroller since our beloved American stroller got damaged on an airplane flight. His new stroller is only a mid-sized stroller here, but it would be one of the biggest at home, for sure.

I have an embarrassing number of scarves and have deluded myself into believing that if I wear one, no matter what else I am wearing - even if it is a baggy t-shirt and leggings or a sweatsuit*, I am at best dressed up and at least I look put together.

Some of the scarves I have acquired since moving to Denmark
I became somewhat painfully aware of my "scarfs make me look classy no matter the rest of my outfit" delusion when I threw one on for an early morning flight to Dublin and then arrived and did not receive my bag for the entire trip. Maybe it was ok for the early flight, but by the time we were at the pub that night, the scarf was really not helping to dress up my black t-shirt and sneakers.

I expect my rye bread to come chock-full of seeds.

Recently, when a friend was visiting and we were at a TIGER store (a cool Danish store, similar to dollar stores, but better) and we came across the bizarrely large section of things with the Danish flag on them she asked me sarcastically if I needed any Danish flags. (This is exactly the kind of thing I would have done when we first got here.) But since it was nearly Riley's birthday and Danes use the Danish flag to mark celebrations, I didn't even register her question as sarcastic. I just said "Yes!" and started scooping the flags up and tossing them in my shopping bag. Whoah...

Flags from Riley's birthday party
After a trip to Monaco last week where the temperature was in the 80's with added humidity, I was thrilled to return to Copenhagen and find cool temperatures and rain. What has happened to me?

Most of all, Riley is assimilating. He is attending Danish vuggestue (day care), speaking some Danish, "Nej Tak!"(No thank you), and eating the food at vuggestue. He has a love affair with Tivoli Gardens, likes throwing bread to baby swans in Copenhagen's canals and lakes and expects that every park has a playground someplace inside it.

I am sure we won't even know some of the other ways we have become a bit Danish until we return to the US and realize all the ways in which we have changed. After all, that is why we are here, to have our minds opened, our worlds expanded and to allow ourselves to be changed by our experience.

Here's to the next six months and to becoming a little bit more Danish before we go home.

*This is an exaggeration, I don't dress this terribly. Close, but not quite.

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