Slow Healing

It was a broken hearted family that left San Francisco, we all took turns feeling overwhelmed and sad. After four amazing days in DC, we are healing. Phew. DC turned out to be much cooler and more exciting than we had expected, one of our most interesting vacations in years. On our second night as we dined at this outdoor cozy restaurant with a sleeping baby and amazing food, I felt bubbling happiness rising in my chest for the first time in months. Visiting DC has been the perfect distraction; It has helped us detach more emotionally, I think, I hope. Next stop is Santa Cruz, where good friends will visit and hang out with us, which is a perfect combination of transition and vacation.

For the longest time, probably five weeks, I kept pushing away my feelings. I felt that if I gave in, sadness would take over. Organizing moving out of our house upset me. My husband believes that sleep deprivation was the main cause. He’s probably right, the world seems overwhelming, when you’re feeling exhausted and foggy. That said I also now understand that I had grown more attached to our home, friends, and expat life that I had realized. The whole family had.

Uprooting the kids after nearly five years is heartbreaking because of their sadness about leaving their friends. We understand. My heart also aches every time I think about leaving our closest friends, our community. It hurts that we won’t be as close and able to support each other. Distance breaks those tight bonds, it just does. At the same time I know that the second we reunite, we’ll rekindle our connection, because that happens every time we reconnect with Danish friends in person. I’m so thankful for the people back home who have reached out and let us know that they are excited about getting us back home, it was the only thing that kept me going.

For us adults, as a couple, the last two years have in many ways been our happiest. Expat life either breaks or strengthens your relationship, because you have only each other to lean on for better or worse, until you forge new deep friendships. We have never felt stronger and more united. We have cherished our family time and the fact that we didn’t have many responsibilities in our weekends, including towards other people. There was plenty of room for spontanouity, when the kids’ soccer games were over. 

We are excited about moving back to our “village”,”our people” in Denmark, who are a huge group compared to our small community in San Francisco. After nearly five years’ exile the size of our Danish community feels almost overwhelming. Returning to Danish culture will be “hyggeligt” (cozy), we can’t wait, but at the same time Denmark’s homogeneity suddenly feels intimidating. The U.S. is a melting pot, people are different, have diverse values and traditions, and do things their own way. You never stand out, everybody blends in on their own terms. Diversity is appreciated. In Denmark we’re going to have to get used to more scrutiny and less elbow room. With less free time we won’t be able to be as spontaneous, we’ll have less family time with just the five of us. On the other hand I’m looking forward to us all being more independent; We’re trading in freedom for a stronger community.

For me personally, going back to working in the legal field is awesome. I’ve missed the law. At the same time, I dread how we will handle the kids’ sick days, which we have many of, much more than average. In the U.S., I was always available to stay home or pick up if school called, now we’ll have to share this responsibility, both in new jobs. The Danish weather will aggravate our situation. Before moving to the U.S., kids’ sick days were a huge stress factor. This time we plan to hire a nanny to help a few hours here and there, we just need to find the right him or her for the job. The nanny will not be for the baby, who needs his parents, when he’s sick (I feel :).

Ok, enough worrying! It’s done, we’re repatriating. We’ll handle the bumps along the way. I can’t wait to reconnect with my favorite people back home, it’s been two years since we were home. Writing this, we just arrived at the most perfect Santa Cruz beach cottage with a beautiful ocean view and vibe and plenty of space to have our friends sleep over. The energy is changing from sadness to excitement, I think, I hope. The worst part about the move is over, NOW is the time for new adventures, before the big changes in our everyday life begin.

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!