Earlier this year Michael was invited to speak at a Kierkegaard conference in Copenhagen, and we received a gift that allowed me to go along too! The boys stayed with my parents while Michael and I flew to the old city for an extended Thanksgiving weekend.
We lived in Denmark for almost a year during the 2007-2008 academic year. Michael was a awarded a Fulbright to finish his dissertation on Kierkegaard so we packed up and moved. James was born there, we had a wonderful group of friends and a great church.
I’ve traveled so much with small children that this journey to Copenhagen was awesome in itself. I watched four whole movies – more than I’ve seen this entire year – and read the better part of three books. Bliss. And I got a couple of hours of sleep rather than laying (reclining?) awake trying to talk the psycho part of myself down from the metaphorical ceiling in my mind. The part of me that would envision my journey as a never ending purgatory of screaming children and lost luggage and canceled flights. Things which never happened, but international travel with children brings out the darkest part of my Worst Case Travel Scenario Imagination.
We stayed with our friends Robyn and Joel. They are basically Michael and I in a “close possible universe;” the one where I did a doctoral degree too and we didn’t have kids. They are really great people – generous, thoughtful, fun… see? Totally like us. – the kind of people you can always cut through the crap and have a meaningful, frank conversation with. Which we did constantly in all kinds of contexts: a Danish/American Thanksgiving dinner, a dinner party with amazing wine, one of those cozy downtown restaurants that I dreamed of going to when we lived here before, and more uproariously in a British pub.
|From Copenhagen 2010|
Michael and I walked the city and saw all the old spots where the boys were when they were just babies. Writing that sentence makes me feel really old; like they are married with children and our being in Copenhagen happened 30 years ago rather than 2 and 4 years ago (we also had an multiple week period in Copenhagen when I was on maternity leave with John in 2006). I’m so proud of them and all the things they’re learning and can do, but I miss their baby selves.
We went to our old church on Sunday where James was baptized. I spent at least a quarter of the service with silent tears sliding down my face thinking about James’ baptism, 1-year-old John running down the aisle when we received our “Godspeed” send-off and, more broadly, missing worship with that hodgepodge of broken people who made up our church.
It snowed beautifully the whole time, which was completely lovely when we were indoors. I visited old friends and their new babies, and was reminded every time they commented on how I was now half of myself that they all met me at a very strange time in my life. When I was heavily pregnant, we were in the midst of several stressful transitions, and it was a very “best of times, worst of times” kind of year where life was always Very Serious.
It was nice to go back and just play.