My Danish home 

I’m in love with this city.

I’ve decided the way to travel is to travel to the same places, experiencing them as a new human, learning from the evolution of not only that city, but as being human yourself.

This city, for me, is Copenhagen.

When I first discovered Copenhagen, it was the dead of winter of the year 2010. I had never known a white Christmas. My lovely friend Iris, who any day now will have a baby, taught me what hospitality meant. She welcomed me to her parents home in Jutland for Christmas, and her father could not fathom a visitor without a beer in hand at all times. I can never forget this memory.

Now, on my fourth trip to Copenhagen, it has been decided that I am part Danish, and that this IS my second home. How often do you visit a city where your name is called out while riding a bike? Or that you appear at a wine bar only to be greeted by people you know. Or to be invited into a home to be cooked a meal by Cambodian parents. Or to chase a beer with a negroni. Or to drink milk straight from the holding tank. Or to wear the shoes you left here on your last visit?

Challenge to visit a place more than once. More than twice. More times that you can count. Expand and contract with it. Learn about the people and culture and the people that visit. Be a regular—have a place to call home. The world—it is smaller than we think— it is for exploring deeply the things we do not know (yet).

This time I leave behind one of my first ceramic pots, some hair, some ideas about conserving water on a farm, and promises to be back within a year.

I came to Copenhagen this time to celebrate a 30th birthday and an almost new Danish life. I have yet to decompress from the experiences here, but I know I will never forget it.

I feel so alive.

(This excerpt of my visit was written after cutting my own hair, being a natural chauffeur on a GoBoat, biking with my hair down like I own this town, a natural wine tasting of countless bottles of Danish, French, and American wines, a homemade meal of roasted chicken, risotto of chicken hearts, wheel of cheese, and Danish melon, followed by chasing a beer with a negroni, and biking home under the moonlit Danish summer night.)

reverse culture shock

Jet lag came at me disguised as postpartum with varying degrees of aftershocks. I had not intended my 10-week trip to Europe to give birth to something that had been growing inside me the past year. My goal was to bake some bread, eat as many frøsnappers and morgen boller filled with butter and cheese as possible, hang out with old friends, make some new friends, and be home for my 31st birthday. I had spent the past year emerging from my own chrysalis, but what now has emerged from me?

I did not expect to have reverse culture shock. Being surrounded by mostly bare white walls all summer while learning the Danish meaning of hygge, coming home became this constant reminder about how cluttered and un-free my American life was. Prior to my trip, I had already given up half of my closet, half of my books, revealed the corners of my room, but it wasn’t enough. When living in Europe, I ended my evenings by candelight, awoke to hand-ground coffee or congee, and only enjoyed the good things in life with good people. I gave myself a week to adjust. A week became two weeks. Two weeks became three weeks. I don’t think a lifetime would give me enough time to adjust.

My daily sun salutations have become an honoring of how much of this life could I feel.

Instead of fighting hygge, I have chosen to settle in the path of least resistance. Deliberate footprints litter this path, with the dusty shimmers of forks in the road so far below the horizon that they can no longer tempt me to turn around. If you dare take this journey with me, I can’t say what we will run, walk, swim, or climb into or what direction the doors will swing; but, if you hold my hand and keep walking us forward, the candlelight will feed off the fresh air and light our way.