Tomorrow I will be in Oceanside with baby, waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. Deciding that baby and I should fly instead of driving an eleven-hour drive from Santa Cruz to Oceanside was a no-brainer, despite the extra costs. Baby and I will swap a car ride for a plane ride to San Diego followed by bus, then train (the beautiful “Coaster Ride”), and finally a twenty-minute walk from the train station to our apartment. Pretty complicated, but totally worth it: We could never have endured that car ride because “no, baby doesn’t stop crying after a while”, and “no, baby doesn’t fall asleep after a while”.
Our eleven-month-old is the happiest, cuddliest, and most mellow baby, except for when he’s strapped in a car seat. Having had two babies who hated driving (it’s probably genetic!), we got him the best, most comfortable car seat on the market that even has a large shade to protect him from annoying sunrays, and we have toys ready to distract him. But nothing works. It’s gotten better, these days we have a twenty-minute window before he starts crying, and sometimes I can distract him for up to an hour by singing. It ain’t a pretty picture in the backseat on longer rides, where you will find me singing with a raspy voice, exhausted, and baby crying loudly, not understanding why I don’t take him up in my arms. As soon as I take him out of the chair, he stops crying. Often we would take breaks every ten minutes, I especially remember our trips across the Golden Gate Bridge, where we desperately would try to find a parking spot, always taken by photographing tourists. We only drive with baby, when it’s absolutely necessary. Whenever possible, I always opted for walking or taking Bart (which is the most un-American thing you can do!). When we had no choice but to drive, it was a team effort singing and keeping sane and calm (not), while baby was wailing in the car seat, all sweaty from screaming. Poor baby, poor us. Come to think of it, one of the best things about moving back will be that we can walk and bike to nearly everything.
These days I also apply our mantra “this is just a phase” to my feelings about our repatriation. When people ask us, if we are starting to feel excited about moving back, my honest answer would be: “No, I actually try really hard not to think about our repatriation at all”. Instead I often answer: “I haven’t thought that much about it, yet, but ya, a little bit”, and I start naming all the things that I know, I’m supposed to feel excited about. But the truth is that right now my sadness about leaving outweighs all the good stuff about moving back that I used to feel excited about. Luckily, I have so far succeeded in ignoring our repatriation and focused on our vacation instead. Overall, this past week has been amazing; we all have had a blast in Santa Cruz, what a perfect vacation! We haven’t had time to wallow in sad feelings because we have been too busy entertaining our guests or enjoying Santa Cruz. The few times that it hit me, that this is our last week in the Bay Area, I felt a tightness in my chest and stomach: I’m not ready to leave, not yet.
In terms of weather and nature, California has it all, and we love our outdoor weekends year round. Having to move back to dark and cold winter months feels depressing. Our return to Denmark feels devastating –as opposed to exciting– because we know that we will (probably) never move back to California and its amazing outdoor lifestyle for all the reasons that I have mentioned several times on my blog (living costs and education mostly). All these negative aspects of living in California still outweigh our reasons to stay, but that doesn’t make our sadness about giving up our Californian lifestyle go away. We believe that Denmark is a better place for the kids to grow up, we miss family and friends, but it’s been four and a half years since we left Copenhagen, and we are 100 pct. Californian. This is our home. Having to face a fresh start and new routines in a different country, even in our home country, feels overwhelming and even a little scary because we like it so much here.
My mantras for such dark thoughts are: “This too shall pass”, “Our agonizing transition is just a phase”; We’ll be all right; We’ll find our footing.
I’m thankful that we are too busy having a blast for me to wallow in sadness. I’m thankful that we had such a great last year. Had we moved back after two years, I would never had adopted the many great American qualities that make life so much more fun, such as “going all in” when having fun. From tomorrow there’s Oceanside including a trip to Disney, I can’t wait!