Friday, 27 June 2014

It's farewell and thank you.

Seven years ago almost to this day I was contemplating our imminent move to Copenhagen. Today I write my last post for iScandineighbour, for tomorrow we journey on to Germany and a new beginning. It’s a mixed emotion so forgive me if it’s raw, the heartbreak of leaving is wound up in the newness and excitement of a fresh start.

I didn’t really wish to move to Denmark, it seemed cold and wet and I’d heard that the Danes were a tricky bunch to get to know. The relocation lady constantly assuring me that nine out of ten things were so 'hygge' that I shouldn't worry. Those first six months were hard core, new country, a seemingly impenetrable language and a never ending bout of hospital worthy tonsillitis that lingered through the wet Spring and the eight kilometres a day I trekked to get my eldest to his Børnehave and back. Regret was writ large in my mind but the route ‘home’ was unclear and so I persevered. 

Come summer, the friends I had made in my little town were also at our International school and the small community I had found in Holte became this ever welcoming network of friends from around the world that continues growing to this day. We settled in and the challenges became opportunities that in turn meant the strange was less strange, the Danish customs becoming comforting in their regularity.

We moved house again, to a house that became so much more than bricks and mortar. It was where I recuperated having nearly lost our third son during pregnancy and where we bought that newborn once he had made it safely into the world. It was the home that said “I do” when we married amongst family and friends in 2012. It was the home that saw endless summer’s of football matches and barbecues. The home that closed in during the winter months with it’s warm fire and abundant cinnamon buns. We loved going home.

What I love most about living here is that life is as simple as you need it to be. The food is so seasonal. How we celebrate when we see pea pods by the roadside and æbleskiver in the late Autumn. Family is revered. Celebrated with long brunches and walks through the dyrehaven on a Sunday. I have grown to respect that not everyone wants to nod their head as we pass on a stroll, sometimes I don’t want to either but when we do it’s genuine. I love that I don’t have to smile cheerily at the checkout crew that do their best to squash my newly purchased goods but I also love meeting the ones that have become friendly and happily chat with them as I pass through. I love the city too, it’s so beautiful and has changed so much in the time we have been here. The days when I have chance to take a walk through the streets to visit my favourite art shops fill me with a pleasure that I hadn’t realised I was without.

I cannot say that the last seven years have been full of cherry blossom and sunshine, it has been seven years and life carries on regardless of where we might happen to be living. Last year was particularly torturous and I retreated from the world as I let myself recover from the attacks on my body from the food that was meant to nourish me and the medicine that was meant to heal. It was during these months that I really discovered what Denmark meant to me, when all that I had embraced previously came back ten fold to reassure and encourage my cautious return. There is something so restorative about taking a walk along the coast here and my dog and I took so much pleasure from walking through the sands gazing out at the horizon whatever the weather. Whilst so gratefully supported by the precious friendships that were like rocks in that sea, guiding me back to the shore, unfailingly solid in their care.

When I had a farewell lunch a couple of weeks back I was just completely overwhelmed by how many wonderful friends had come along to wish little old me goodbye. I was so touched in fact that when I wanted to say some words of thank’s I could only mumble a couple. 

What I wanted to say was this....

“Thank you to everyone I have met along the way, I feel humbled to have spent time with such a varied, globally inspiring group of people. The experiences I have shared, both with pleasure and sometimes with pain, have taught me so much more about who I am and how I can be myself within this global society that we have embraced. I do feel that I have grown up among you and that I can leave this precious chapter with the strength of so many good people behind me. The conversations, emails and messages that I have been so fortunate to have received recently will stay with me forever. Thank you” 

I will never feel anything but fortunate to have had the opportunity to live here. I hope one day I can return. Not because I worked out the true definition of the word ‘Hygge’ but because I can see and feel it as I bring up my children in Copenhagen and because much to my surprise I really did find my home here amongst the Danes.