All At Once

Today I tried to use the Danish washing machine.  Normally, I love doing laundry; it’s a very satisfying task that has a very tangible beginning and end.  You start with a large pile of dirty clothes and a few hours later have a warm pile of clean, folded things that you can put away in a designated spot.

Not so here.

The washer and dryer are located in the bathroom here and I’ve been staring at the convoluted mess of incomprehensible Danish words for a week.  As I’ve paired down all the clothing I own, it was time to wash what little I had.  I took my hamper, stared at the machine, put in what seemed like a reasonable amount of detergent, chose a setting and prayed that my clothes would come out okay.

A few hours (yes, hours) later the clothes were out of the wash and I went to hang up my things on the clothesline outside.  Henry had told me how he accidentally shrunk everything he had when he first got here, so I was scared to use the dryer but I have to say that I was equally scared to hang out all my underwear for Gitte, Johannes and the rest of the world to see.  In a country where nobody would ever want to be caught in anything less than their best, it seemed shocking to me that they’d be so willing to hang up their underthings in obvious sight.  After my frantic messages to Henry, he assured me it was a normal, acceptable thing to do and I spent a good amount of time hanging up all my things.  As it was picturesque and slow process, I lost track of time and soon found I was late to go meet Henry at his school.

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Photo next to the poster my mom got when she was in Denmark when she was my age. The poster hung in my childhood bedroom.

I biked over quickly, proud of myself for not getting lost or falling over (I don’t know why I keep thinking I’m just going to fall over on my bike…I don’t think I’ve ever done that before) and met some of his classmates who weren’t at the Thanksgiving party before he led me the back way through Christiania.

It was fascinating.  I rolled my bike through the mud and stared, wide eyed, at all the the strange looking homes, colorful and oddly shaped and lined up next to each other like a little area in Disneyland.  I desperately wanted to take out my camera and start snapping photos, but they aren’t allowed in Christiania: Denmark’s hippy commune social experiment.  (You should look up some photos online, really.  It’s fascinating.)

We wandered until we found a coffee shop called something like Måndefiskeren and I was, yet again, stunned at it all. Everyone inside was smoking or rolling cigarettes, playing pool or lounging around.  It was very different from the Denmark I had gotten used to in the last week and I had to take some time to adjust to the newness of it all.  (I’m actually devastated that I can’t take pictures there.  It was the one thing I’ve seen in this country so far that has desperately made me want to pull out my camera.)

After a cup of coffee we wandered over to Nørreport where Henry went to talk to his boss at work and the two of us decided to look for tacos, stopping at a somewhat expensive shop where we were happy to find tacos that, while nowhere near as good at back home, were good enough to push aside some of our homesickness.

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We then wandered over to the Christmas market where we drank warm wine out of Christmas shoes (Scandinavian Shoe Wine, as my sister appropriately dubbed it) before making the long walk back to our bikes in Christianshavn.  We stopped again to have a glass of wine and were lucky enough to find a backgammon board.  I taught Henry how to play (it’s a big game in our house and I wanted him to be prepared to play with my brother and dad) and we played a few rounds before calling it a night.

Another long, lovely day in Denmark.

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