The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game. Wow. Apparently I’m good at it. Or maybe it’s the opposite, maybe if I was good at it, I wouldn’t be so affected by it. I feel like I am always waiting here. In Denmark. In America, waiting is not a worthy pursuit. Patience is a virtue, perhaps. But time is money, peeps. We don’t have time to waste. We are efficient masters of time. What are you waiting for? It won’t just land in your lap, you have to go out there and get it. Whatever your it is. In America. We work long hours to achieve our “it.” Shuttle our kids to and fro their scheduled active lives. Free time? I might have some. Next Tuesday. Let me check. Worth is measured in how our time is filled. What you do with your time. Downtime must be used efficiently as well. Long weekends are good enough. Fill it up. Get out there and get to it. The doing in the time you have allotted for whatever it was you set out to do. Did we get it all done? Who knows. Did my Facebook album and Instagram feed make it look like I did? Super. (They say that a lot here in Denmark.) Success. Right? Maybe.

Back in Copenhagen. In Denmark. Things are slower. It’s acceptable. It’s expected. Nothing wrong with it. Meals are slower (which I like.) Commuting is slower (on bikes and busses.) So here I wait. I wait for the bus. I wait for the train. Not long luckily, most of the time. I used to have to wait for the electric car to charge before we could make the final legs of our long weekend journey home. While the Leaf’s efficiency in lowering carbon emissions is bar none, the electronic charging station infrastructure outside current Danish metroplexes lends tedium to the logistics of using it. We ditched it. Too much waiting. Currently I wait for my ankle to heal. I dislocated it. Badly. And unfortunately the timing for its healing is vague and amorphous. If you can recall, I was released from the hospital with allowances to attend my pre-planned family reunion round the globe in Hawaii. I did. Make it. It wasn’t exactly fun traveling for nearly 36 hours with brand new screws in my ankle and heparin shots to self-inject. But. The arriving and the being and the experiencing and the reuning with family on the Big Island for a long week was worth it. The warm sun on our faces. The iced Kona coffees shared at the sand-floored waterfront shop. The perma-smiles on my childrens’ faces. Was worth it. Even if I couldn’t get in that blue blue water teeming with colorful sleek fish. So worth it. The return trip home equally as tedious. But again. Worth it. That was Thursday last.

Painting Ceramic Easter eggs at Copenhagen Creative-Space
Painting Ceramic Easter eggs at Copenhagen Creative-Space

God Påske from Denmark! We returned home to a quiet Easter weekend in Copenhagen. Even with 90% of the city shut down – it was beautiful. A long weekend dressed in spring’s finest. Daffodils emerging sunny and yellow. The bluest skies painted with the fluffiest whitest clouds you’ve ever seen. Seriously. You want to learn how to paint clouds? Come to Denmark. Where Copenhagen sits is an island. Clouds blow over the flat landscape in ever mutating puffy shapes. One advantage of our 5th floor flat is that I can bear witness to their passing from my window as I elevate my broken foot. This pro only slightly tops the scales balancing the con of crutching up those flights on one leg. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger may apply here, but allow me some license to gripe. It isn’t easy. And my husband waits. For me. Afraid I might careen back down and break another something I think. Not in my grand plan. But neither was the tossed ankle to be honest.

I’m awaiting a call from the Doctor. Waiting to see when the follow-up surgery required to correct the original corrective surgery will take place. Waiting to see when the light at the end of my tunnel will appear. Right now – it’s pretty dark in there. And there is a traffic jam apparently. Back-up of surgeries more acute than mine at the hospital. Plugging along. But can’t deny that emotionally, it is a wee bit challenging, knowing that you’re rerouting. A big U-turn if you will, back to the beginning of your post-op recovery time. Any progress – less swelling, less pain, more mobility – all null and void. I know. I know. It could be worse. It’s just an ankle. It will heal. But more than my ankle, any progress that I was feeling in expatriation here has slowed to a snail’s pace. Hard to network and explore and share with children when your current reality is moving at a careful, metered crutch-across-cobblestones pace. Eight weeks post-operative progress starts…. NOW. Oh – not now? When, exactly? You don’t know. Oh. Do you know when you’ll know when? No? Ok. Let me know. When. I’m here. Waiting.

I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for waiting with me.

Cheers from Denmark!

Catch me if you can as I cobble and crutch
Catch me if you can as I cobble and crutch

Difference of Perspective

Slow as… molasses. Paint drying. Grass growing. Slow as … insert your own metaphor here, but it will probably fit. If the boot fits, wear it I guess? Oh, that’s me in the boot, remember? Due to recent events properly constraining my personal mobility, everything takes a little longer to accomplish and necessitates much assistance. Like just getting my morning tea and breakfast over to the table. But especially like traveling. Around the world.

Hjælp! (That’s Danish for help and pronounced exactly like the website Yelp!) Ask and you shall receive, at Copenhagen airport, at least. CPH offers mobility assistance from almost every point of entry – from parking garages, metro stops, arrivals drop-off – they will assist those mobility impaired. You can go online and pre-register with your flight # and specifically what assistance you require. They recommend registering a minimum of 48 hours in advance of your departure, but I didn’t. Being discharged from the hospital less than 48 hours before our first flight precluded me from attaining this deadline. But even with only one-day advance notice, my request was acknowledged and accommodated I was.

Backing up a wee bit, my journey really began hours before our actual arrival at CPH. What emotionally felt like the longest travel segment in recent memory, was actually the FIVE flight descent from our building and the three block crutch over cobblestone bedecked sidewalks to the bus stop. Still car-free, you see. Luckily our local bus connects to the airport Metro easily and we only need to switch once. The Kongens Nytorv stop is tremendously accessible with elevators directly in front of the elegant Magasin du Nord department store, taking you right down to the Metro level and transporting you directly to the airport. Designated seating for wheelchairs, elderly and mobility impaired – which I had yet to need use of – suddenly extremely convenient and beneficial. When you reach the København Lufthavn, near the Metro exit, you will find easily identifiable signs with a phone to call in your pre-registered assistance request. What if you didn’t call ahead, but realized that you do need help getting from A to B once there? I’m confident they would still be able to help – it just might be a slightly longer wait. But patience is a virtue here in Denmark. 😉 Yes, we have you here – someone will be there in five to ten minutes. Sure enough, he was. Then wisked ahead and zoomed through I was – the family scurrying behind with the bags, trying to keep up. I was pushed through the check in and security process, transferred right up to the door of the plane. Mange tak for the hjælp!

Passing through the security checkpoint was interesting. The wheelchair went through alone first with my courier. I’m seated awaiting directions on how to proceed. Can you take the boot off? Yes. But. I can’t walk on the foot – no weight bearing for eight weeks. She is processing, I can see the gears whirring, as she holds my metal crutches. Yes – I would love to take off the metal filled leg brace, the metal screws out of my foot and ditch the metal crutches, so that you can accurately screen me without setting off your metal detector too. But to do so, we’d all have to Superman the globe backwards to a week ago when my foot could accommodate your request. Something about this makes me a wee bit snarky. Ha! Says those who know me. You’re always a wee bit snarky. Maybe so. Ok. We’ll put the crutches through. Yes, leave on the boot. (Good idea.) We’ll screen you over here atop this small wooden box. Really? You want me to get up there? Good gravy. Ok. Complied. But, I had to chuckle to myself as he “patted down” my hard black go-go boot cast. I never did actually take it off. Who knows what I could be smuggling in there. Just kidding. No really. I have a prescription for those meds.

And so there we were aboard our first flight towards family. So far, so good. But rolling through crowds of people, the bulk of them on two healthy legs, at speeds brisk enough to put a breeze in your hair, you notice things. The perspective change that comes from a two foot decrease in height while aboard a – dare I say it – “roly chair” is remarkable. First of all – eye contact, or lack thereof. Upon first impression – there was very little. With me anyway. When following oncomers’ lines of site, there was a clear diagonal right over my head to, I can only assume, the driver of my speedy roly-chair. Now this could conceivably have been because they were worried for the safety of their own toes due to, let’s say, the “efficiency” of my driver. But it felt strange. Strangely anonymous. This new perspective.

I’m a smiler. I make eye-contact. I say hej. (pronounced hi) Even if Danes don’t respond back or look at me incredulously. I learned this from my dad. It was his nature. I remember asking him as a girl – did you know that person? Why did you say hi to him/her if you don’t even know them? Because it’s nice. He didn’t differentiate – the janitor, his peers, his friends, his kids’ friends, the grocery store clerk, the guys who made his coffee – actually these would usually become his friends too. But they all received his goofy gap-toothed smile and hi. Its just one of the things I loved about him. I still love about him. Maybe because of this, I do it too. I’ve internalized it. It’s part of my nature. When my opportunity to do so is intersected, it feels odd. Enough so, that I noticed it. It made me feel invisible – until that is, I was hyper visible at the screening check-point up on the block feeling wobbly and being ineffectively screened. Or while slowly making my way down the airplane aisle to my seat. But back in the roly-chair, it was like a Harry Potter-esque cloak of invisibility. No one could see me again. Perspective changed. Do I ignore people in wheelchairs? How awful. But I couldn’t definitively say one way or the other to be honest. At the kids’ former schools in the States, there were disability awareness days. Activities were planned for the children to maneuver through several stations “trying on” if you will, how being blind, not having use of your hands or being confined to a wheelchair felt and how that impacted your mobility. I thought it was a great idea at the time, but I certainly didn’t internalize anything personally. Being in the chair yourself, out of necessity, definitely hammers the sensation home. A difference of perspective for sure.

In Copenhagen, in stark comparison to many large cities in the U.S. and Europe, there very few homeless, beggars, or “street” people. But the few that you do see – anomalies in your new socialized landscape at first – become recognizable and familiar features in your everyday. If you live in Copenhagen, maybe you’ve met them also. There is the accordion player under the bicycle/pedestrian path along the lakes near Nørrebro. He always smiles and plays a wee bit louder as you walk by. There is another toothless smiley accordion player at the Nordhavn S-tog station – we smile and nod as I ride with my littles to school. His maybe not as altruistic as mine while his dish of coins beckons passersby, but I like to think it is just that – a smile shared. Others are less musically gifted than these gents, like the funny hunched over recorder man who works the Strøget, Copenhagen’s busy pedestrian shopping street – his huffy-puffy recorder sounds stop when he gets tired or is not getting the coinage he desires. So he shifts a few paces down and starts his huffy-puffy again. This shtuck must work. That’s his perspective. At the Svanemøllen train station there is a regular who sells the Hus Forbi street newpaper, but I can’t read much Danish (yet). I smile – he smiles, and he always says “Tak for smilet.” Thanks for the smile. This gives me perspective. And it makes sense. Above all, and I don’t think it’s just me, we all want, need, crave basic human connection. Even as a marginalized member of the highly organized socialized state of Denmark, he just wants connection. At its simplest – just some eye contact. Just a hi or hej. Just a smile. It doesn’t take much. It surpasses language barriers, it defies disabilities, it provides perspective. We aren’t alone.

My perspective while finally boarding our last flight from Los Angeles to Kona, Hawaii three hours late, nearly 30 hours after starting down those stairs, thousands and thousands of miles away and nearly almost able to see my extended family for the first time in four and a half months was nothing prophetic or quote-worthy. I could NOT WAIT. And to be honest, my broken foot couldn’t either. OUCH. But my flip-flop was calling (only one) and they’ve saved me a lounger at the pool. Til later – tak for smilet and Aloha! (and Cuchi Cuchi!)

Aloha and Mahalo
Aloha and Mahalo


Næste stop. Next stop, the pre-programmed bus announcer calls out. Easy to not pay attention with the free wi-fi afforded on public transport here. One of the many reasons that we have decided to go car free. Car-free… as free as the wind blows as free as the grass grows. We did it. We turned in the mini-lease on the Nissan Leaf. Like trying on 57 different swimsuits in a desperate attempt to procure the one that might, just might, play up your assets and veil your challenge zones, we were trying on cars. The Leaf just last in a line of rental vehicles that, like the suit I still am looking for, just don’t quite work. With three children – my eldest already taller than me at 14 – finding a car that fits us all here has proven challenging.

Small backseats in the European options
It’s cozy up in here

No big ‘Merican SUV’s cruising around here. Parkering would be interminable if there were. I don’t think my old Ford Explorer would fit down the cobblestoned streets or in any of the available parkering spots.

Maybe it’s an issue of living in the city versus living in the burbs. Truth ink that the further you go from old city the larger the personal vehicles become – true anywhere? Certainly comparable back in the States. I would never have considered going car free living in our Portland suburb. Too many soccer (ahem, football), lacrosse, football, dance, practices, games, events for shuttling children fro and to. Too many beautiful Pacific Northwest road trips to be had – how else to get to the mountain? The Oregon Coast? Football games in Seattle? Public transportation while existent there, not nearly as comprehensive and widespread as here.

And while we were here finding our way round and squishing into small backseats – the consistent cries of “I’m NOT MIDDLE!” and the subsequent elbow battles and “He’s in my space!” echo not so quietly or too far back in recent memory – did we slowly start to find that public transportation was terribly easy and convenient… and potentially spacious. My husband will tell you, should you ask him, that he was promoting a car free Danish existence much earlier than I was ready to accommodate. I was terrified to be honest. Why? You may ask. Hard to define. But something akin to having your wings clipped. Fear of the unknown? What would that life look like? Would it constrict us? As it turns out, I think the car has been the constrictor. Holding us back.

For example. The children are able to stretch their wings now. Kissing goodbye from the landing of our 5th floor apartment – the boys head off for their early days at school (not the same day unfortunately) solo and unaccompanied. They have to walk a few blocks to the public bus stop, swipe their prepaid Rejsekort (travel card) to start their journey.

Rejsekort - Travel Card
Rejsekort – Travel Card

They get off at the S-tog station and transfer to a train, clicking their rejsekort again – making sure that the line they want is going the correct direction, else ending up cruising the opposite direction. Of all the family members (besides the wee lass who has yet to make a solo flight) it is I. Myself. It is me who has blundered the transport the grossest. Now tell me this. All the busses heading in our direction are labeled 1A. About 1 in every 5 of them don’t have the same final destination. Couldn’t you call that bus 1B? No? Why not? Those who know say it’s obvious because the final destination is clearly marked on the bus marquee in front. I didn’t know. Anyway – now I know. It was concretely embedded a few months ago after I jumped on the wrong one and while standing out in the burbs – too far to walk to where I needed to meet the children in time, I waited on the other side of the street for the return bus. Much less frequent and far in between this return would be – remember I said in in every 5 goes out there. The children luckily pooled together and adding two and two assessed that mom didn’t have the car this particular day (as Dad had taken it to Aarhus) and waited patiently for me at the school. No more waiting now. They can text me and use their own rejsekort and make their own way home. Brilliant.

The freedom of knowing that I’m not getting a parkering ticket because I parked in the wrong space or didn’t put enough time on the meter is unfathomable. The ease of getting into the city a breeze. The grey-hair inducing act of actually driving here in Copenhagen – which is something akin to Frogger or Crossy Road without the animals – OVER. Imagine trying to turn across bike lanes (which have their own traffic lights) with throngs of bikers only to meet on the sidewalk a myriad of giant-pram wielding, grocery-laden or dog-walking pedestrians and then trying to maneuver around giant delivery or garbage trucks – not even to mention the construction, construction, construction – EVERYWHERE. My anxiety levels while driving and trying to manage the “he’s in my space!” from the backseat were high to say the least. Riding the bus or train is like a dream. I can post to my Instagram (or @expatindenmark’s Instagram which I was flattered to be asked to takeover this week.) I can catch up on you on Facebook, I can read a book. I can chat with my children and hear about their day when I ride up and gather them from school or while delivering them in the morning. It’s delightful. Seriously.

And easy. To use. User friendly. When the users are friendly – which is most of the time – gets a little hectic at rush hour, but still ok. And there’s an app for that. It’s called Rejseplanen (trip planner – duh.) Put in where you are starting from and where you want to go – you can adjust if you want to arrive at a certain time or just determine whatever options there are departing now. Or 15 minutes from now. It’s up to you. Hit “Find your journey” and the next 3 options pop up. Pick the best and click for details so specific right on down to the walking map which will lead your feet (most likely donning black Nike trainers, wellies or heeled black boots) smack to the front door of your desired destination. Awesomesauce. (I don’t know the Danish translation for that yet.)

So far so good and I haven’t missed our vehicular existence. (It’s only been a week.) And I think its good for the kids – a life skill garnered. Something is working. Not everything. But something. For now. Have a wonderful fredag and wherever your næste stop may be – enjoy it. Skål fra Danmark! xoxo

Swans in the Sea

One of the primary reasons in any pro column when processing an expatriation would have to be a perceived potential for expanding of horizons. Think of all the new things we’ll see, learn, experience and feel. (More on that.)

I have never seen Swans in such great quantity as I have come to know here in Denmark. Swans fill the lakes that separate the old city from the Copenhagen neighborhoods of Østerbro, Nørrebro, Fredericksburg and Vesterbro. Their graceful posturing and elegant cruising makes the shallow (and somewhat trash-filled) bodies of water near our hood somehow charming, even with giant construction cranes in the background. I am told that in the summer, swan-shaped paddle boats puddle up and down along side the birds. I am positive that my wee lass will enjoy partaking on some future warmer weathered afternoon.

The prevalence of swans pervades popular culture as well inspiring location naming here. Both our most utilized S-tog train station and the nearest beach use the Danish word for swan (svane) in their namesake – respectively Svanemøllen Station and Svanemølle Strand honor the majestic white birds. Do you know the story of the Ugly Duckling? Who doesn’t? Oh – you don’t? Oh. Ok – go read it, it’s a classic. Read it to your kids – lovely message. It’s kind of the “Rocky” story of fairy tales right? Do you know who wrote it? The Ugly Duckling, not Rocky. None other than Danmark’s own – H.C. Andersen. Yep and as it turns out – he tells people later in life – that the story was a metaphor for his own life experience. Spoiler alert – the little ugly duckling, awkward and ostracized, grows up to be the beautiful swan. Junior High anyone?

But Swans as I know them belong on a lake. Being balletic in background, with 15 years of my youth spent stretching, pointing, plié-ing, extending, port de bras’ing, rehearsing and performing ballet, I believe that swans belong on a lake. I was an avid attender and supporter of Oregon Ballet Theater while there and enjoyed their production of Swan Lake and will admit that I miss the regularity of that set date night every other month. (They are currently performing Cinderella, which I can both recommend and relate to.) If you are unfamiliar with Swan Lake, the iconic Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky classic, put it on your bucket list, preferably performed by a Russian company like the Kirov or Bolshoi that has a corps de ballet by the thousands – or… 24-32 is good too. Thirty-two perfectly synchronized, mesmerizing, white tutu’d and feather-crowned swans that float and dip and fly across the stage. For a tiny teaser – please enjoy my all-time favorite two minutes of ballet and you might see why. Brings tears to my eyes and chills to my skin every time. You too? No? Ok. Thanks for playing. As it turns out, similar to old Hans from Denmark, Peter’s work was not originally received as the masterpiece it is now considered. Criticized for being much too complicated musically, it wasn’t until later that it grew into its current and sustained popularity. Second only to the Nutcracker in performances and attendence, there are surely many many many more years of challenging musicians and dancers as well as delighting audiences to be found in Swan Lake. 

Swans are supposed to be on a lake. In a lake. Around a LAKE. My bias may also stem from the fact that I have spent the last seven years of my life living in a town called LAKE Oswego. Maybe. But here in Denmark (and other places I can now suppose) there are swans in the SEA. Swans on the beach. Swans in the ocean, people. Wha? Without having seen them – I may not have believed, but lovely and serene on the calm tide they seem. Until that is, they come ashore expecting the food they think they should receive, moving towards your children, my daughter only half again as tall as their menacing waddle. These birds are enormous. Beautiful. But ENORMOUS. Carefully, we allow them their space and haven’t gotten the courage to feed them as of yet.

Svanemølle Strand Svanes - these birds are big.
Svanemølle Strand Svanes – these birds are big.

But courageous, constantly, we are all required and attempting to be. On a daily basis. Trying to understand where we can be ourselves, but fit into the flock here in Denmark. It isn’t always easy. Our feathers may be changing, ever-slowly. The sun will come out. Tomorrow. (Sorry, the wee lass is practicing for the International School spring performances of Annie, the tunes of which pervade our sphere.) But, I will admit that we as a family – individually and together – are still feeling a wee bit more like the large, loud, grey-feathered, clumsy and awkward ducks still trying to fit into the barnyard flock. Waiting to emerge into our beautiful full-feathered culturally immersed elegance. Does that happen? I have a feeling we will lose a few more feathers in the evolution. Paddling along, we will continue and let the water roll off us. Spring is coming. Little blooms popping up in parks and around trees and under winter’s dead exhale. I can feel the days lengthening. We are literally gaining 4+ minutes of light every day. It’s palpable. Our spirits lengthen with it and in the words of my teenage son, “I have high hopes for summer.” So do I son, so do I. Breathing. In. Out. Repeat.

Love from Denmark!
Love from Denmark!


It’s Lent. The Lenten season. How you believe and what you believe and how you exercise those beliefs is between you and yours – not for me to question – unless it impacts my family. Please refrain from using weapons to share your faith, speaking from experience it converts few. But as far as modern celebrations, public holidays and personal traditions evolve, I have always been interested in the why and the how from their basis they form. All the more so now in my newly expatriated version of self, how those resonate within different cultures is especially remarkable – and now I’ll remark on it. (You knew that right?) As it turns out, very little investigation required, determined that the origins of the English word Lent emerge from the German, Dutch and Old English words for spring or the coming of spring, a lengthening of days. (I can seriously feel them changing daily here in Denmark. Lengthening. Hver dage a little bit more sun in the morning and a little bit more sun in the afternoon – every day. For this I am faithful, sommer in Denmark will be amazing.) The word Lent as it translates from Latin into our modern romance languages relates more to its respected historical and modern timing – 40 days. In its most generic distillation, Lent is the 40 days before Easter and starts with Ash Wednesday and is generally marked by a personal sacrifice – giving something up. Did you give something up this year for Lent? Sugar? Wine? Watch this and get back to me how that went….but as I said before – to each his own.

To me, what is almost as interesting as the cultural significance in your Lenten practices are the events that precede the penitenten Lenten days. WOOT WOOT! It’s Mardi Gras y’all! Laissez les bons temps roullez! Oh sorry. I’m not sure where that escaped from – maybe watching too many friends celebrate in multi-faceted bedecked and bejeweled style on Bourbon Street via my Facebook. I’ve never actually been there – but it looks amazing in its own right. Carnavale pops up in many cultures – scantily clad and costumed, bedazzled and parading – let it all hang out before we have to rein it all in. Personally I’m not quite ready in Februar to let it all hang out. Ask me again midsommer and I may feel differently. Too much good Danish brød and smør this vinter for me perhaps.

In Denmark at this time of year – like all of the holidays I have experienced here so far – there is a melding of modern Christian and medieval Viking culture. You will here the words God Jul wishing you a merry Christmas in December, but Jul was celebrated long before the heathens were converted, evidence of the cultural consolidation. At this time of year – Danes celebrate Fastelavn. Occuring this year during our strange Vinterferie, we really didn’t get a good grasp of all that is Danish about Fastelavn. But as I understand it, costumed children (not unsimilar to Halloween, which has only recently in the past decade taken on in Scandinavia) sing songs and go door to door for treats or money. Local bageris make their own version of the Fastelavn bolle – a yummy Danish version of fried dough. I have a theory that all cultures have a version of their own traditional fried dough and it is especially heightened at this time of year. (ie; Pączki, pancakes, donuts, churros, King Cake, fastelavn bolle, etc. etc.)

My favorite part of Fastelavn is the somewhat strange medieval corruption of the game “beat the cat out of the barrel.” (slå katten af tønden) Yes, you heard me. Something about knocking bad spirits, embodied by the cat (preferably black) out of a wooden barrel. They literally shoved a live cat in a wooden barrel, strung it up, sang songs and whacked the crap out of the barrel until the cat escaped or didn’t. If it escaped alive it was chased out of town to preserve the village from evil doings the coming year.

Essentially similar to whacking a piñata – the wooden barrel is full of candy and children take turns hitting it with their best shot one by one with a wooden bat of sorts. The first child to break the barrel open releasing the treats (which will be equally shared of course, this is a socialist country) is crowned the Kattedronning. The “Cat Queen.” Special, for sure, but not as coveted an award as the next, as evidenced by the sheer size of the faux crowns. The highly prized and generously faux-crowned title goes to the Kattekonge aka the “Cat King.” To earn this challenging and luckily-timed award, one must be up and have the last whack per se. For it is the one who knocks off the very last board of the barrel who can only be crowned the Kattekonge.

Call it beginner’s luck, but my wee lass came home with this penultimate crown. I met her off her train/bus commute home festooned in her gold and red crown and adorned in the widest grin. I will admit at first that I found it quite charming, but had no idea what she had accomplished. Not until our Danish contacts kept commenting how special and amazing and special and cool and special it was that she achieved said Kattekonge crowning. Children apparently go their whole lives hoping and striving for said title, but alas my wee lass got it on her first go. Now – just to be clear – she waited her turn and not until her 5th whack in the line did she lay into that last board and win her major award. Those who know her can only imagine her fierce determination to knock that thing off. Even the boys were impressed. Hugs and cheers from classmates, alongside more than a few covetous glances to be sure.

All hail the Cat King!
All hail the Cat King!

So this year, maybe we missed the costumes, didn’t even really sample all the fastelavn bolles, didn’t get to earn the candy or monies (we didn’t know the songs), but my kids will have forever memories of the season, especially my Kattekonge. Will we give something up for Lent? No. We have given much up to be here. Besides a disposal (I still really miss that), a comfy couch, a car that comfortably fits us all – we have given up the regularity of seeing good friends. Given up holidays and events with families. Passed on leading committees, making sports teams, dancing on stages. We have given up to be here. We have made our sacrifices, be it Lenten in determination or not. But what have we gained. It is still being clarified. But so far, I know it will have to include; experience, culture, empathy, people, adventure, tradition. Will they all be experiences and adventures that we choose. Maybe not. But part of us, they will be. And as Lent is a time of internal perspective, I can appreciate the introspection and inward turn in anticipation for longer days and the rebirth of the explorer inside of us all. Just wait. I am.