Today I rode a bike.
When I was about 12 years old my dad decided enough was enough and that it was time for me to get on a freaking bike. He tricked me into getting in the car, took me down to a flat, secluded area and made me ride until I felt moderately comfortable on the thing. My relationship to bikes ever since then has been hesitant and distant.
A few days before I arrived, Henry told me he was thinking of romantic ways to meet me at the airport and I asked if he was thinking of picking me up on a bicycle. He responded with silence then a hesitant, “…yes?”. HIS relationship to bikes is eager and involved. I told him that if he made me get on a bike with a suitcase after over 24 hours of being on planes and in airports, I would turn around and get back on the plane.
Thankfully he didn’t pick me up with the intention of riding, but in the weeks before I arrived, he bought a bike for me. Lovely, white and almost new, it sat glaring at me this morning. “Let’s ride! I’ll bike to work and you can stop by a coffee shop or something on the way!” I swung my leg around the bike and knew immediately that it would be a terrible idea. “Nope. You ride to work. We can hang out when you get off.” He seemed upset but biked off anyway and I went back inside to work up the courage to get back on the thing. It had started to rain as I went back outside and considered the new bike.
Such a lovely gesture. Such a torment. I swung my leg around it again. “Okay, bike” (I talked to it because I believed addressing it directly might move it to cooperate with me) “let’s do this”. Shakily I managed to get around the block. I stumbled a few times before finally getting my footing and started confidently riding around in the rain; I managed to ride for about twenty minutes before seeing another human and stumbling off my bike. The Dane seemed very unimpressed with me, though not unfriendly, so I got back on the bike and forced myself to ride another twenty minutes.
By the time I arrived home, my pants were soaked through and I was freezing. A week in warm Texas sunshine had not prepared me for the harsh realities of Danish winter. I changed my clothes and decided I should open my vacuum sealed luggage (thanks again, Madi and Krystal!) and get settled. My cough had worsened but I was determined to try not to nap (a futile attempt) before having dinner. Henry finished with work and decided to take me on an adventure to the grocery store (on our bikes, of course) for supplies for the Thanksgiving dinner he has been planning to have with his classmates.
I rode without embarrassing myself too much in front of him and we arrived at the store – a ridiculous, overwhelming experience. Right upon entering the store one of the employees bumped into a pile of flowers and knocked a tray of them to the floor. We both wordlessly knelt down to pick them all up and place them back in their assigned spots and he said something kind to me in Danish (at least, I’m assuming. All I know how to say is “the elephants are eating the cats and mice”. But his tone was friendly) before I wandered off to find Henry. A small moment of connection in a strange place.
Trying to understand Danish grocery stores is like trying to figure out the Danish language — a futile, seemingly useless waste of time. I’m slowly learning to just accept and lean into the absurdity of it all. Desperately wishing I could call my mother to tell her about it, I followed Henry around the store, wide-eyed and fascinated. Supplies are (mostly) ready to prepare a feast for tomorrow!