As we settled into our lodging in Copenhagen, Denmark a familiar pattern of exploration ensued. I used to say things like, “There is no coffee pot! They said there would be a coffee pot!” Now it is more to the tune of, “Yeah! We have an oven. Hmmm, four bunk beds, that is interesting!”
Nothing is the same, from language to currency and accommodation, no matter how much preparation we do. The only option that is freeing, with the lifestyle we are leading, is to be open to the element of surprise.
Expecting what we were sold or what we saw pictures of on-line and fighting the difference was tiring and not working for anyone. Now we arrive with excited anticipation, and the result has been life altering.
If Ron and I withhold judgement when we arrive somewhere, it is fascinating to see a place through the kids eyes. They have a sense of wonder in places we would totally miss (and they would never share) if we voiced our initial opinions.
Being close to the canal in Copenhagen spelled mosquito nightmare to me, but to Henry it meant long awaited time to fish until dusk and listen to stories of the one that got away from many Danish anglers.
There are plenty of challenges. We never have the same supplies for which to set up in each country and we are dependent on what is provided due to our commitment to traveling only with what fits in our carry-ons.
There have been times when a paring knife is all there is, or a wok is the only pan available. We’ve had everything from hot plates to no plates to gourmet six burner commercial kitchens. We have slept in matrimonial beds (two twins pushed together with a valley in-between), bunk beds and luxury feather beds. We have arrived to find no reservation on the books and other times we have had the red carpet waiting.
The consistent piece of this journey is that there is no way to plan for what is ahead except to know that it will be unique and new and amusing if we can embrace the uncertainty.
I have come a long way from being thrown off if my clothes dryer needed repair. I found myself asking last week what was meant by the community toaster sign at reception. I discovered that a toaster could be checked out if we wanted one in our room. I giggled walking away with my toaster thinking about the predictability that was once the foundation of my day.
There are days when I miss that familiar pull of the silverware drawer, always in the same place but I know I have grown tremendously from this experience. My son Max said yesterday, as he was making his bed for this week, “I remember when we used to go away and I could not sleep because I was not in my own bed. I haven’t felt that in a long time. Every day I wake up and I know where I am and you are all here!”
His story made me realize that we experience the unsettling feeling of disorientation much less and we settle much more quickly. It also brought to light the fact that what is grounding or unsettling is not about having familiar “stuff” as much as it is about being together.