I am finally back in the States, after a harrowing (yes, harrowing) journey involving three countries, three planes, an absurd number of long lines and security checks (including a guard who demanded to know why I was ‘stationed’ in Denmark and was their food better than ours?), a disheartening delay in D.C., and twenty-six hours without sleep, followed by three transfers by car to finally arrive at my parent’s house in the mountains … two days later.
I do not recommend my cheap travel habits. Especially when transporting half your worldly possessions and an exhausted, crying child across the Atlantic with you. This dawned on me (as it always does) when the pilot who was supposed to be taking us on the last leg of our journey said, “Yeah, I just talked to my buddy, who is flying the plane you need. It had to have maintenance before its last trip, and now it’s on its way to Detroit.”
And then, a few hours later, after hauling my carry-on (of bricks) up a flight of stairs to board the tardy plane, I was told that I couldn’t take it with me because “wheeled luggage isn’t allowed.”
“But it’s all breakables!” I protested.
I stood there for a moment beside my forlorn five-year-old, blocking the point of entry for all other passengers, dumbfounded, exhausted, on the verge of laughing hysterically or kicking someone in the shins. Instead I tripped, fell on top of all my breakables, and started crying. The embarrassed attendant awkwardly stammered, “I’ll take it back down for you,” and hightailed it out of there, and I somehow managed to find my seat without terrifying anyone else (minus the man whose foot I had previously run over with my ‘wheeled luggage’- whoever you are, I am genuinely sorry. I would have apologized had any of this registered before now).
It was a fantastic day.
A week later, and I am still recovering.
Our first week home has been a festival of welcome-home meals, a birthday party for my now six-year-old son, and a post-wedding cookout to make up for a previously missed celebration … The opposite of my last week in Denmark, spent having farewell dinners and hyggelig eftermiddagskaffe & kage with Danish friends.
I am so happy to be home again with my family.
I dearly miss my friends across the Atlantic.
The many goodbyes brought to mind what a beautiful, nomadic, uprooted two years it has been.
We have lived out of hotels, hostels, B&B's, and apartments that have been much too large and much too small. We have been hosted by friend, family, and stranger, been immersed in a multicultural sea of people, food, and temperature, and found ourselves hopelessly lost in foreign countries. We have explored.
Even more, we have learned things about ourselves we never knew – like what a beautiful, growing thing it is to adjust to a new culture, and what a beautiful, freeing thing it is to live without things you once took for granted.
You stand outside your own comfort zone and you let yourself take it all in – this place, this culture, that person, their language, this moment.
And you miss it, when you’re gone.