13 April 2010


i walk into the kitchen that i share with twelve others, braindead at the end of a long day, in my pajamas. i take out a bowl of popcorn from the second drawer in my cupboard. add a little more sea salt. rune tilts his blonde head, a foot above mine, to ask me, "isn't cold popcorn boring?"

boring? i am unable to attribute the word boring to something seasoned, at least, with salt and herbamare.

"uh... no?" i flounder, wondering if he's joking. the danes, as a rule, take great pride in their "unique" sense of "ironic" humor. i survey the room. no one else is around to help me confront this question.

"you can buy it in the u.s. with spices and stuff," i continue. "i just made too much yesterday and have this leftover--" i try to justify my apparently wayward eating habits. i don't know how to convey the fact that my original goal regarding this popcorn was not to eat it cold, but rather than i had accidentally made way more than i wanted since i had forgotten to save the directions from when i bought the kernels. i remembered the "cook in a big pot with oil, lid on" part. i even got the proportions okay. the first time i made popcorn here, i even double-checked the danish word for "pot" in an effort to do it right. then i threw the directions away.

yesterday i - in the typical fashion that leaves me indelibly marked as american - improvised. and ended up with a little more of a snack than i bargained for. i tried to share it, but in the gap between lunch and dinner the only food people were interested in were their open-faced sandwiches on rye bread with butter and liver paté.

he nods as i falter and breaks out into a grin.

"so are you going to watch a film?"

by now i am used to hearing movies called films.

"nope." i can hear the next question dying to be asked: why are you eating popcorn, then, if you're not going to watch a movie?

"i'm just going to read," i tell him, and retreat to my bedroom.

this kind of thing happens nearly every day.

the small differences are really what makes being here a challenge. it's not the different language or the fact that it's illegal to have a gun or figuring out how to navigate the free healthcare system. no, it's the little things that add up: the dozens of small misunderstandings cultivated by the language gap that really isn't a gap but rather a shaky bridge, the social norms everyone else knows but you don't necessarily. take your shoes off when you enter a home.

anyways, the sun is back and shining with a vengeance. flowers are blooming, the bike lanes are crowded again, you can hardly walk down the street without a small child on a bike or scooter mowing you over, and ice cream is everywhere. it's practically summer! never mind that the highs are still hovering around a balmy 10 (50 F) degrees; the sun doesn't set until 8:30! this means lots of bike rides and walks and general exploring. finally!


geneviève said...

i love being here, reading what you write and seeing the pictures.

i had a huge bowl of popcorn the other day. i never measure anything - just oil and popcorn in the pot - and yes i always end up with too much. i have been eating it with nutritional yeast. Þ has started to be ok with that - although usually we have to have separate bowls so that he have his own 'boring' popcorn just with salt.

geneviève said...

and - these pictures are so bright. amazing. i cannot believe there is just so much sun there in the city now.

maya said...

mm popcorn with nutritional yeast sounds delicious. better than butter.

and the light just keeps coming and coming and coming.