I surprised my family and flew home for a few weeks. My parents did not know I was coming, which was all the more exciting when I arrived at the house at 12:32 AM last Thursday. Arlo, our gay family dog, ferociously wagged his tail in what I'm assuming was delight. Groggy, my mom came stumbling down the stairs wondering if the dog was having a seizure. Or had learned how to turn on all the living room lights.
I've been sifting through old family photo albums to take some pictures with me back to Denmark. I've posted some below.
It was a little emotional returning home to the (surprised)welcoming arms of my mom, dad and sisters. Things haven't changed drastically in Sacramento, but it's good to be back in my mother-country. I'd forgotten how open Americans are. My first day back, while shopping at the fine American boutique/superstore Target, four different people talked to me, striking up little conversations here and there. "Does this top fit?" "Do you know where the nail polish section is?" "Would you like to get a slurpee with me?"...
At first I was taken aback, before I remembered that I wasn't in Denmark any longer, where people are less chatty. Danes are just as kind and welcoming, but are ever cognizant to not impose. I love that about my hometown city, Sacra-tomato. Though still rural in its roots, the city has always struck me as a charming, friendly and open-minded locale (often under-appreciated by Californians). No matter what, Sacramento will always be better than Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield. Pee-yew.
I've become more danish in the way I like to pick on other cities in a game of friendly intra-state ribbing. In Sjælland, the island I live on in Denmark, the locals like to make fun of Jylland (Denmark's much larger, more rural country-bumpkin island to the west). Jyllanders think Copenhageners are snobs. And the entire country likes to tease the bigger country across the Sound to the north, Sweden. Sweden picks on Norway, and all three countries pick on Finland. Denmark also suffers from Small Country Syndrome, and I haven't figured out why yet. One of its symptoms is a sudden urge to blurt out in conversations with non-danes that Denmark is: 1) sooooo small and 2) has only 5.4 million inhabitants. When you measure the country's booming economy and performance on the global scene in areas of foreign aid, philanthropy, human rights, health, science and sports, the countries 'contribution to population ratio' is deeply impressive. I think that's probably why they remind me how teensy their country is. Lest their small little nation gets a big big head, I always counter by stating that many European countries are smaller than theirs. (Iceland: 300,000, Luxembourg: 480,000, Lichtenstein: 34,000, and Norway squeaking by with 4.7 million).
I flew home on Delta Airlines via Georgia, and spent an exciting 6 hours at the Atlanta Airport. Coming out of customs, you are surrounded by drab cream-colored walls and a long escalator that climbs a thousand feet into the air, leaving baggage claim-hell behind and entering purgatory in the form of a Food Court to shame all food courts. Nothing says "Welcome to America" quite like the sight of "Chick-filet", "Arby's," "McDonald's," "Panda Express" and "Dunkin Donuts".... which you'll all find in just about every terminal of every airport in our country.
Chicken 'n biscuits to my left, my recoiled face quickly swung to the right where I found a defibrillator on the airport wall. Right next to the fire hydrant. Two life-saving devices, one that works wonders when jump-starting ventricular muscles of the heart in the event of myocardial infarction ("heart attack").
Heart disease is America's number one killer. It's not a laughing matter. Neither is the truly frightening sight at how "portly" "chubby" "big-boned-deded" and down-right FAT our nation has become. I think I'd blocked out that reality. I have my theories as to why 'fat' has become the new 'normal', but I'll spare you for now. And I admit it's terribly politically in-correct of me to address fatness with such bluntness. But I don't really care anymore. In the States we've been so hung up on the language of our discourse -- being sensitive, inclusive and careful not to offend. Its time to stop worrying about hurting people's feelings and instead, take a closer look at reality.
I'll climb off my soapbox now. For further reading on this trend -- what has been called the "wussification of America"-- you need look no further than Sacramento's favorite morning talk radio show: Rob, Arnie and Dawn. http://www.robarnieanddawn.com/RobsSoapbox5Articles.htm
Or, we could just reminisce on the old, trimmer days.