I’ve just returned from three weeks of travel. Well, just and just might be a little misleading because today it’s actually a full week since we left Denmark but it has taken me almost all of that week to feel like I’ve really fully arrived. Arrived back home. Leaving Denmark to go home is still such a peculiar concept to me. And something that my mind spent a lot of time trying to understand and compartmentalize while we were there.
And on this street above I cried a little about it, too. I’ve cried many tears on this street and the surrounding ones. Tears over my broken heart, stress, happiness, tears when I came back from the U.S and missed Justin. In other words, I’m no stranger to public crying. Now I was crying about these same streets not feeling like home anymore. Ironically enough, crying there once again made it all feel a little like home for a brief second.
The feeling had slowly crept up on me. From the fact that my brain has to realign with my mother tongue, that I didn’t remember a single of the bus routes and subsequently were 30 minutes late for a dinner with friends, or when waiters (twice!) switched to English in a conversation I had initiated in Danish.
When I made the decision to move from Copenhagen permanently, I comforted myself by almost constantly chanting to myself “You can always go home” while I boxed up my life in the little 5th-floor apartment.
And I still tell myself that same thing again and again now almost four years into living abroad. When I still feel like a foreigner and everything is strange and I don’t quite feel at home yet. You can always go home.
And that is true. I can go there. But for every trip to Denmark, it also becomes more and more apparent that it is not home anymore. And it was scary and sad and so many feelings at once that I can’t even distinguish them, to walk through my old neighborhood, the safe place in my mind on days where America sucks, people are way too much in my personal space, and I feel like an alien. I romanticise it, these little streets and this old life and feel like just going home will solve all my problems. It was like a big slap in the face to walk past my old crooked apartment building and feeling like a stranger there too. I sobbed onto my husband's shoulder over the fact that apparently there was nowhere in the world I feel at home anymore. Being confronted with these streets that I miss a lot and in my mind hold the special feeling of familiarity and home, did indeed look familiar but through a veil of distance and strangeness too. Not the way that it is in my head.
And yes, I can still move back to Denmark. It was just a hard reminder that the life I stepped out of is no longer waiting for me to step back in.
This trip it just became so apparent that now I am visiting. Visiting old places, old friends, and other people’s lives, and somewhat visiting my old life of what was and what could have been.
It has had me a little rattled, this realization that there’s nothing waiting for me and to go back is not to go home but more like starting over. That my life is present with me wherever I am and that there isn’t a parallel life for me halfway across the world just waiting for me to be back.
But then I stepped through the front door as we got back from the airport. Arriving back home was such a relief after three weeks of a little too many people and events for my introverted mind. And here it all was. Our furniture, our art, my plants, our bed, our organization, our smell. That’s when I realized that I still might not feel completely at home in this country or this town, but in our home, I am home. My little place in the world and for that, I am just so unbelievably grateful.