I really, really want to love everything about our new life. I really want to feel bubbles of happiness, as I walk around in our cool, cozy neighborhood. I really want to enjoy my last two months of maternity leave. I really want us to fit in, all of us. I really want to feel thankful for everything that is going well in our transition. Instead of feeling sad. Instead of having a constant feeling of “something’s not right”, “something’s missing”. I know that I have a huge responsibility and ability to find happiness by focusing on being thankful. But right now we’re transitioning, repatriation is damn hard. We’re stressed because even though a lot of things are going our way, we’re still far from being and feeling settled. So bare over with me as I let myself wallow in ridiculous, small, sad feelings that hit me as I navigate our transition:
- Labor Day Weekend is happening right this second in the U.S. People post happy pictures from their getaways or staycations. Where would we have gone this time, Gold Country? Maybe Sonoma?
- Halloween! Yes, it’s in October, but in our family the planning and anticipation stage starts now! Will we even get to dress up this time? Will we go trick or treating? Will there be Halloween decorations with spider webs and pumpkins to make us smile? Will we feel ridiculous if we celebrate Halloween in Denmark?
- I miss not only our close friends, but also the sweet mommy friends that I saw only at school and soccer. I want to ask the people (teachers and parents), who know my children so well: “How do you think he/she is doing?” “What can I do to help them fit in more with their peers?” But these people are far away, in a different time zone, in a different lifestyle. How would they even understand what we’re going through and adapting to?
- The only person that really truly understands the transition I’m going through is my husband. Other people bring me perspective and support, but they can’t really understand.
- I miss speaking English. My daughter has the b.e.s.t sense of humor, she sees the funny in everyday situations and calls them out. It’s hilarious and she makes us cry with laughter. Until one week ago, I tried to make the kids speak as much Danish as possible to me to make their Danish stronger. I no longer care. Laughing is more important. On our walks home from school, we now speak English and sometimes laugh as tears roll down our cheeks. Speaking English is liberating and a way to return to our true happy selves. I just wish other kids wouldn’t keep pointing out that my kids have an accent! I tell them they should be proud of that accent, they earned it, and they’ll lose it soon enough.
- Who is living in OUR house, enjoying OUR view from OUR kitchen, and sleeping in MY room?
- School, nope, we’re just not there yet, something is missing, something is off, something doesn’t feel right — I’ve had that feeling for weeks and then it hit us both: We should move our 8-year-old to an international class like her 12-year-old brother. Damn it that we didn’t see this coming, now it’s probably too late, there’s probably no space for her, she probably won’t cope with a second transition — but it’s the right thing to do. Damn it.
- I miss that sense of belonging in a larger group.
- I miss Trader Joes’s goat yoghurt, Starbucks’ cold brew, and my car.
- I miss shopping in Westfield followed by dinner and a dry, cold glass of white wine with my amazing friend.
- I miss my iPhone 6, locked by our American cell carrier despite their promise of the opposite, thieves!
- I miss yelp reviews, I feel like a foreigner, I don’t know what brand to get and where to get it; why don’t Danes review stores/food/prices ect?
- I miss watching my shows on Xfinity; how can I watch The Real Housewives of OC? (My guilty and no longer secret pleasure after this blog post :)
- I miss barbecuing, I miss the anticipation of San Francisco’s summertime between September and November.
- I miss my positive and happy self.
There are plenty things about my San Francisco life that I don’t miss. Yada, yada, yada, I don’t care right now. I don’t want to find the freaking silver lining. Yet I know that it’s the little things that will put a smile back on my face, so after writing this, I jumped down to Super Brugsen, just across the street, and treated myself with Danish candy and magazines.
After binging on candy, our favorite American family facetimed us during their weekly Saturday morning cleaning. Joking together with our friends and fuming with them over American cell phone companies that lock phones illegally, I suddenly felt that I could share anything about our transition, and they would understand — of course they will, because they were part of the life we left behind. Tomorrow my favorite American mommy friend and I agreed to call and discuss all the things going on that little ears aren’t supposed to overhear. It may not be as good as hanging out face to face, but it’ll do!
Ok, here it comes, I’m ready to focus on the good stuff:
I’m thankful for our expat years; I’m thankful for all the wonderful people and memories. I’m thankful for our family and loyal friends, who selflessly care for us and support our transition. It means everything and we couldn’t or wouldn’t want to do this if it weren’t for them. When I close my eyes, I see, feel, and sense our San Francisco life: I’m in OUR kitchen; I sit in MY car; I park by the entrance to the kids’ school; we drive across the Golden Gate Bridge; we sit in our friends’ kitchen in Marin; we street park by the zoo across our favorite coffee shop. I’m there.
Saying goodbye is hard, but memories last forever. Thanks god for FaceTime, messenger, and whatsapp that bring people together across time zones and oceans. I don’t have just the memories.