Hi Denmark

You seem nice.

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Farewell Travels

On the 18th of January I left for Jylland. I hopped on Bus 888, this time prepared with my American student ID and the piece of paper that said how long I was a student at KU. The bus driver didn’t even look at them. We were about 12 people in the bus. Every other time it has been completely full of people. But this time I had two seats to myself!

When we got on the ferry I even got one of the good seats there! with a table and good view of the TV’s. Which I would come to regret.

We had just left the harbor, when I kind of realized that the ferry was shaking a bit more than usual. Then the captain’s voice echoed out over the intercom. “We are just gonna stop the ship for a while. We think something has gotten stuck in the motor. I will let you know when we are up to normal speed again.” Ok. No worries. Then the news came on. About the huge cruise liner that had sunk in Italy just a week earlier. So there we were sitting still in the middle of the ocean watching the footage of a sunken ship and hearing the stories of the missing people.  Oh life, sometimes you are just such a bitch.

After about 10 minutes we were off again.

By the time the bus reached Thisted I was totally alone. Well there was a bus driver as well, which I was thankful for, but other than that I was alone. So I just sat and sang to myself and acted as crazy as possible. What I really wanted to do was get up and dance down the aisle whille listening to my iPod. But I didn’t. Mostly because I figured it might distract the bus driver.

The first place on my super quick farwell trip around North Jylland was my mormor. I kind of felt like this was important, because Christmas had been so damned stressful that I needed to make amends. Just with myself. And I had requested the easiest possible food, because I knew that I would be making it with my mormor standing right next to me with directions and a wooden spoon in case I wasn’t doing it quite right. Which sounds like she hit me with it. She didn’t, she just used it to take over. The ultimate power in the kitchen lies in the wooden spoon.

It was a nice visit. I had prepared myself to just take it easy and not rush myself into anything unless my mormor asked me to. This way I wouldn’t get testy and stressed if I had to read into her codes and moods, but of course she would still get help from me. And this worked fine. Plus my Uncle Bjarne and mormor’s ” man-friend” Svend, as she calls him, were there as well. So I had a few relatively relaxed days playing card games and eating lots and lots of food. Which was slightly reduced in fat as my mormor had just a week ago suffered a blood clot in her eye, which was now entirely blind. But as my mormor said, it still had to be good, so fat and cream was used.

After two days here I left for Vester Hassing. Here I visited some family friends and their daughters, who I went to school with. Marianne and Steen are the parents, and their daughters are Ea and Nicoline. Ea is my age, and Nicoline is a bit younger than my younger sister. This is a family that is so musically talented that just to be among them you feel like you have become smarter and more cultured. One thing that I will never understand is music, so anyone who can unearth the mysteries of song, to me, is a genius. We had fresh baked rolls and hot cocoa, and when their dad, Steen, came home we had dinner. Barbecue. Yeah. 30*F and Barbecue.  It was delicious. After this Marianne and Steen left for a few hours for a dance rehearsal, and Ea, Nicoline, her boyfriend Espen, and I watched a Danish comedian and ate ice cream.

The next morning I woke up at around 9 and looked out the window. It was white and beautiful. A thin layer of snow covered everything.  FINALLY! As I had my breakfast I just stared out the window in wonder and excitement.  Marianne and Steen drove me to Aalborg (which coincidentally is the city I was born in) and visited Ea at her apartment. Here we had lunch with her and her boyfriend, and I got to hear a little bit more about life in Denmark from one of my peers. They are where I would have been in my life had I stayed in Denmark. Strange.  

After lunch we drove over to my next destination. Hanne and Casper Ranum. My “dagplejemor” and her husband. I don’t know the translation for “dagplejemor” and google didn’t help me out much with “child minder”. Direct translation is day care mom. Which is also what it is. Their three daughters are Christina, Anna Louise, and Nanna. Christina was still in Copenhagen, but the two youngest live in Aalborg. Anna Louise had been my best friend when I lived in Denmark. In fact, we have known eachother since we were 6 months old. Although it may be debatable how aware we were of eachother at that age. But a bond was created nonetheless.

It was so nice to visit them, and as soon as I walked in the door I felt at home. This woman who had served as a temporary mom for me as a child was doing it again. It was comfortable and hyggeligt and completely amazing to me. These people, who I had known when I was so young, were still so natural for me to be around. That night we watched the Danish Melodi Grand Prix. Which is like American Idol but for all of Europe, and it’s been around for longer. What we watched was just the Danish pre-Grand Prix, where the contestant from Denmark was chosen. Soluna Samay won, with the song “Should’ve Known Better”. Look it up. It’s good. Seriously. Right now. Youtube it.

The next day again I got a ride from Casper. First to Svend in Vodskov, because I had forgotten a pair of jeans at my mormor’s, which he had then brought with him home. It was also his 88th birthday, which just goes to show how bamf he is driving around and using his computer and such. When I picked up the jeans he told me “I said to the neighbor that a young woman would be dropping by, because she had forgotten her pants.” He is my hero.

The final destination was Grindsted. A tiny inconsequent town. But not to me. This town, to me, is the provider of memories and the guardian of my childhood. Here is where I learned to ride my bike, where I formed myself as a person, where I took my first walk to school, where I learned to spell my name and count to ten.  To get there we drove through the forest, which was dusted with snow, therefore making the journey all the more mysterious and wondrous. As we emerged from the forest, my old school unfolded itself before us. Casper dropped me off at my old street, and here I said goodbye to him. I took my bags, and wandered around Grindsted for the next 40 minutes. Which is really almost all you need to see the place. Malene (mama’s bf) picked me up and then it was off to Pandrup for the last time.

After a superbly Danish evening, involving Danish hot dogs, Danish candy, Dansih comedy, Danish hygge, and of course coffee, I went to bed. The next day was spent slowly packing, reading the last Harry Potter book, and drinking coffee while petting their kitten.  Then at 1 Holger (Malene’s husband) drove me to the main station in Aalborg. I took the train to Nyborg, where Farmor picked me up.

After an exhausting, sometimes confusing, but sad and wonderful weekend, I am now nestled up with my Farmor. Tomorrow I will head back to Copenhagen and start packing and preparing myself mentally for the trip to Cali.

It was a strange experience, visiting these people and places that belong to my childhood. I could not help but to think how I would have turned out if my family had never moved to California. If I would have known these places like the back of my hand, if I would have become a different person, if I would have had different ideas. I would undoubtedly have had different friends and different experiences. But is that what creates a person? Or is there something deep within that people and places cannot change. I like to think that it is a bit of both.