Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Skinny, lonely women and the Danish-American Transition

As we stood by the baggage carousel once again at Chicago O'Hare, I surveyed what remained in my life: 3 suitcases, two boys, a baby jogger. Rolls (and a little Brie) fom the plane. We were all tired and how would I wheel all of this out the door alone? And why had I said good-bye to my whole life once again?

Just the day before I had run Skodsborg Marathon.

A nice cool day, light breeze, no ice or snow. Here are Henriette and I right before the start. Would you believe my hands were too cold the whole race to turn on my music??Rasmus let me run since I'd be with the boys for two weeks without him. I ran the hilly trail marathon in a comfortable 3:32 (well, 3:29 when I came through 26.2 miles), taking second overall, first woman and, as far as I can see a female record on that course (!). I felt awesome. I guess for a lot of reasons. It's about running, it's about loving this area of the world, the people, the life that has become my own. Eating a lot at aid stations.

And then there was O'Hare Airport. I was glad to see my mom, but fell asleep on the way home, not knowing what life would bring. But happy I had some Diet A&W Root Beer at my side.

We've had a number of mornings in a row waking up early: 2:30, 1:45, 2:30, etc. then when the child care opens at the YMCA, I am there! And so are lots of other moms. They are thin, maybe a little hungry, maybe in a bad mood because of that. Or perhaps they're lonely and bored. Just like me. What am I doing in Oconomowoc? Maybe I could make some new friends. Maybe I should get my act together and contact my old friends...

SR has two weeks left of his fellowship. Then he will be joining us at our new rented house in La Crosse.

In the meantime it is the kids, me, my parents. I need to get adjusted. But even my work is over the computer via VPN to the hospital intranet in Denmark. I look at Danish peoples' eyes from the US. Wild. I'm just so glad it works.

At times like this, I never feel like focusing on getting fast. I just want to lose weight. It's sad but true. I am down to 113 lbs. I was between 118 and 120 just 2 months ago when we were in the US. It's a way to get control, of course. But when the woman at the Y saw me with Mattias and said "you are so skinny and you just had a baby!!??" I should have been happy, but I wasn't. Is my life about being thin and in shape? Or um.

This morning I woke up with the boys and there was snow outside. I was happy, too, because SR had read me a letter from Værn om Synet (Vision Protection) saying my PhD project had been awared 200,000 kroner! (like $40,000, though less now that the Euro is doing so poorly). My mom watched the boys while I went for a snowy trail run, 17.5 miles, watching the sun come up and life was more than okay. I got home and told my mom I was going to make a lot of food for Christmas this year for us and the relatives from California: æbelskiver, rød kål, sild, ris à l'amande. I can't just forget that life in Denmark (I just hope this does result in less work for my mom and not just weird, bad food. Anyone who really knows me knows I am not joking.).

And some running music:

Danish of course:
Church of the Real by I've Got You on Tape
Finnish with a Danish record company:
Ode to the Bouncer by Studio Killers


Christy said...

I love your honesty, it is so refreshing. How do you counter those who imply you can't be a good mom with the lifestyle you lead in terms of exercise/weight? I feel similar to you in so many ways, and would be curious as to how you would reply.

gumbo said...

This is only my second time commenting but I felt compelled to say please be easy on yourself. We spent 6 years abroad before moving back to the US. It is so strange to come back to a place that is supposed to be 'home' and realize how much at 'home' you were when abroad. Even though you didn't always feel at home when abroad...It's a strange transition.

I hope you can come to peace over time. Take care of yourself, it gets easier.

DDitlev said...


Congrats on the Skodsborg marathon placement, the lovely kids, the woman giving you credit for being thin (eat more loose less!) and the 40k and being one hell of a blog writer.

Feeling lonely sux and I'm sure all you Danish friends misses you too but we will survive survive until we meet again. So try to enjoy those snowy trails runs a bit more knowing that we (in Denmark) don't have anything like that yet.

Glædelig Jul to you, Rasmus and the boys :)

Diana said...

I read your post this morning and it made me a little sad. I've read that moving back home for an ex-pat can be a tough transition. I miss so many things about the U.S., but even when I go back for a visit, I begin to miss Dutch food, my bicycle, our grocery store, etc. Does that make us cosmopolitans: comfortable anywhere but citizens of nowhere (not literally, of course).
Grr, I'm so sick of people commenting on mothers' bodies. Who the hell cares if a woman is skinny after having a baby? Isn't there something else to talk to a woman about besides her weight? Even if you aren't interested in getting faster right now, don't forget to enjoy your runs and your workouts. I would love to go for a run in the snow, so peaceful and beautiful.
I hope the transition to life back in WI gets easier. Have fun making your Danish food!

sea legs girl said...

Hi Christy. What a great comment. Well, I actually tend not to defend myself other than to say I'm so happy I can keep running and trying to stay in shape. I know I'm not a perfect mom and don't want to try to pretend I am. But gosh, moms really should not go around feeling guilty all the time for doing what makes them happy. Ha. But they do (me included).

sea legs girl said...

Gumbo, Thank you so much. I should be used to this by now, but perhaps part of the problem is my parents live 30 min from the nearest grocery store by car. My friends are even farther away. One can really feel isolated!

sea legs girl said...

Thanks, Daniel! Always good to hear from you. Did I just read you guys got snow today?? :)

sea legs girl said...

Diana, I have no doubt we are kindred spirits. I think if you read my comment to Gumbo things will make more sense. Of course the US, Holland and Denmark are all good places to live. We should be able to enjoy them even more being our cosmopolitan selves, right! I hope I didn't sound like I was complaining in the post.

DDitlev said...

Thanks and likewize :) We haven't had any snow in Sorø but I'm not sure if the rest of the country have had any .. been playing with the kids, taking the baby jogger for a trail run plus reading a lot of info about my summer plans :D :D :D

Kirsten said...

You don't have to forget life in Denmark, just take the best parts of the two places and try to build your special kind of life. I think that's what a lot of us "move-around-the-world" do, everytime we leave a place something stays with us and we shouldn't try to forget it, but savoir the memories!
No, control over your body is NOT the answer!!! You know that!! The answer is to go with your feelings, let them surface and deal with them. Greet them as friends and they will help you get through the turbulent times. They too shall pass.

SteveQ said...

Finnbjorn looks so different from the last photos! Now he actually looks like the Lorax's brother.

Diana said...

No no, it didn't sound at all like you were complaining. I completely understand how it is to get back to the U.S. and feel isolated. It's a long drive to good grocery stores where my parents live. Going back there and finding the right routine is tough. I can't imagine what it would be like if I actually moved back. It would be quite the culture shock.

SeeAliEatSeeAliRun said...

I LOVE that you brought brie and bread on the plane-I do much of the same.
Why do people care so much about others' bodies? I've had a similar thing happen to me.

heather said...

Commenting on someone else's body is just rude. Like, why is it anyone's business? Especially some random stranger's?

Your kids are so cute. Hopefully you'll feel less isolated when you move to La Crosse! And gosh, hope you're all un-jetlagged by now...