Finding The Silver Lining in The Sad Stage

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.

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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.

One of Many Everyday Readjustments

That time I overshopped in my favorite Østerbro bakery with my excited 11-year-old and then couldn’t pay because I forgot that I in Denmark apparently have a pin code for my Danish visa.

That moment— after embarrassing failed pin code attempts in front of a long customer line and failed phone calls to family members to come bail us out — when a kind soul paid our 110 Danish Krones ($17) with a “Welcome back to Denmark” because he must have overheard my distressed conversation with my horrified tween.

That split second — after having thanked our savior which included grabbing his coffee that I confused mistook for mine and he had to ask to give back (OMG) — then recognized him as being the famous Danish movie producer Peter Aalbæk Jensen (Ålen).

… Thank you Peter Aalbæk for bailing my son and I out of that extremely embarrassing, awkward situation; Kindest welcome ever back to Denmark!

Five More Days

  
Five more days with this amazing foggy morning view. Two more days before we start packing down. I’m consumed with sadness. I’m waiting for the sadness to be replaced with excitement about all the good things ahead. Because this sucks. Saying goodbye to our house and life and saying goodbye to the kids’ school and our friends sadden me more than I had anticipated. I have set a deadline for myself to start getting excited about our upcoming vacation and new life. Because if I’m sad, the rest of the family will be too. So I’ve got to pull myself together. And I will. The second moving guys invade our house, I’m replacing my sadness with thankfulness and joy, so that I can be the rock for the rest of the family who I know will have the same feelings, just delayed. Moving back is the best choice for our family, but it still hurts.

… As I was writing this, the doorbell rang. Outside were standing three guys, ready to start packing — two days ahead of time! After clearing the misunderstanding,  I send them away. I don’t feel sad anymore, just relieved: it’s 9AM, we still have two full days — and I’m gonna make them count! 

One Last Time


My last month in San Francisco I had imagined would be spend hanging out with my favorite people, breathing in the atmosphere at my favorite San Francisco spots, lingering in the last precious moments, appreciating all the little things that are special to San Francisco. Instead I have been staggering around at home with a baby in my arms – dizzy from sleep deprivation and super stressed about the amount of tasks related to our move – or on the go driving the kids to or from somewhere. My brain has been as foggy as the San Francisco summer. There’s so much I should be doing such as writing my resume, working on this big well-paid freelance assignment or organizing the stuff we should get rid off before movers invade our house in eleven days. Eleven days! But our 10-month baby is all over the place and getting hurt the second I look away, so one little activity will take me a day to complete.

Last night I finally enjoyed precious “last moments”. I left the baby and the rest of the family at home and ventured to my favorite restaurant Fresca in Noe with one of my favorite people. On the street I ran into friends, which I always do when I’m out and about. San Francisco is so big but yet surprisingly small because people hang out in the same neighborhoods. At Fresca we sat down at the bar eating amazing flavorful Peruvian ceviche and talking, while everybody else in the restaurant was watching and yelling at the Warriors basketball game on display. San Franciscans love their teams! Then I ubered home, carpooling with a weird, silent, creepy dude but with a very nice talkative driver. “So Francisco”, everybody ubers around the city (to avoid parking and to drink alcohol) and sharing your ride  means half price! I actually hit the uberPOOL button by mistake, but I’m happy I did because the ride with my creepy co-passenger was another small “so San Francisco moment”.

This weekend I’m gonna keep not worrying about all the things I should be doing and enjoy more precious last moments. The next one today is our last family trip to the zoo, which just welcomed my daughter’s favorite animal, wolfs. Then we’ll take a walk on Ocean Beach one last time and get coffee at our favorite beach cafe one last time and breathe in its laid back surfer atmosphere. Tonight I’m gonna book us an epic trip to Washington DC where we will head to after our house has been packed down. A trip where we’ll celebrate our love to America, our home. We can’t wait to see the White House, Capitol Hill, the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the National Mall! In July we’ll enjoy SoCal, our second home in the US, and hang out with friends on and off.

Starting now I’m gonna stop feeling guilty and start enjoying the little things!