Do you ever have those moments that put you in your place? Pull you from reverie? Fully entrench you in your present. And not the gift-wrapped type. Like right here. Right now. Feel this, kind of present. There is really nothing like falling flat on your face to do just that, as a matter of fact. Literally. Falling. On. Your. Face.
Me. I did that. Recently.
And no. I wasn’t day drinking on the Copenhagen canals in the early summer sunshine, like I may have recommended that you do. Like some Danes may do whenever the sun shines bright. This was a weekday, people. Before noon. And I wasn’t at a Danish birthday brunch. Today anyway.
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Actually, since you are asking – I was feeling quite full of myself. In the best, most happiest, abounding with self-satisfaction kind of way. I had just finished a very spectacular meeting with a local Danish graphic designer and artist. (Pssst… you can meet her here.) At her lovely light-filled studio in a cool-ass neighborhood of Copenhagen. Walking away from that encounter with a sense of accomplishment and excitement; full of ideas and potential. And posters. Sublimely cool prints. To hang on my wall. In our still new home. Around the world.
Rocking my red Swedish clogs and vintage sunglasses, I truly felt all that. And a bag of chips. At least in my head. When all of a sudden, in the middle of the trendy, hip, and somewhat tattooed meatpacking district – I ate it. Clog caught a cobble and down I went. Flat out on the tarmac in the middle of Kødbyen in Vesterbro. It’s true.
And it was one of those moments when you can almost see it play out in slow motion (cue Chariots of Fire music) but then it happens so fast that you hit the deck before you even realize that you’ve tripped. BOOM. Just me? You don’t do that? Damn those clogs. No, just kidding. I love them. I will absolutely still wear them. They’re SWEDISH. (I really do love them.)
So there I am. On the ground. And being in the middle of – you know – the meatpacking district – where there are actual meatpackers. Working. Forklifts and trucks and packers and … meat.
“ER DU OK?!” shouts the nearest meat packingly, forklifter driving type.
Are you ok?! In shock, I look up. Is my underwear showing? No. Ok. Thank god. Instant gratitude. That I was actually wearing them, to be honest.
“Ja, ja. Jeg er ok.” I am ok.
Plucking myself up from the parking lot floor, I do a quick stomp stomp stomp to test the legs. Jeg er ok. I am supremely thankful that the lunch crowds hadn’t yet filled the outdoor dining tables at nearby Warpigs – home of Copenhagen craft beer crown holder Mikkeller. I mean if it had been only thirty minutes or so later, I may have been putting on quite a show for more than just the forklift driver. “Skål!” Cheers. Fantastisk. That’s Danish for fantastic.
I do a quick inventory. Camera ok? Ja. Prints ok? Ja. Am I really ok? Give me a sec. I’ll check around the block. Right now, I have to save a little face. Licking some of the egg off, I round the corner, cross the street, and head for Hovedbanegården – Copenhagen’s central train station to head back home. When I finally pause to take a look, the top of my right shin looks like a cheese grater has been applied. GAH. Awesome. Not sooo horrible. But not exactly pretty either.
ER DU OK? Are you ok? Shit. I think so. Ja, Ja. Jeg er ok. Yes, yes. I am ok. I am. Truly. I’m not perfect. And neither is this life. But I’m still grateful. (Not grated.) Grateful that one year later, my relocated ankle – after three surgeries and three months on crutches – didn’t go out on me. It was just a wobble. Just a scrape. A good one, but just a scrape. And two days later I was able to run on that ankle. Yes, it was only a 5K. And there were no personal records, but I did it. Jeg er ok.
Living a life abroad is full of stumbles. In all fairness, living any life is full of potential stumbles. Remembering to shake off those stumbles in your favorite clogs is key. Psst – you don’t have to like clogs. It’s a metaphor. Choose whatever you love and hold on to that. Keep an open heart full of gratitude. Be thankful for opportunities put in your path. Even if they require falling on your face once in a while. Jeg er ok. Du er ok.
Every scar adds to the map. The map that makes you, you. How you embrace those scars is up to you. I made this map. It is my map. Sometimes it is flat. Sometimes there are hills to climb. Sometimes, I fall in the valleys. And maybe lay there for a while. But knowing that the dip is only part of the journey makes the peaks that much more breathtaking. Cliché and predictable perhaps, but sometimes when you are flat on your face in the middle of the parking lot of your life, it’s just what you need. Jeg er ok.
Thanks for listening. Cheers from here. Come to Copenhagen, she said.