Thursday, June 26, 2008

This side of the road

My life is so damn charming in Denmark, it’s not even funny.

I eat cherry-wine-gummies every evening on my bike ride home from work. Sometimes I want to steal a puppy and place it in my bike basket, just because it would look cute perched inside. Like a toy-poodle.

At the kiosk around the corner from my job, I grab a bag of colorful matador mix.

“What’s up, Habib?”

The candy was named after a famous Danish TV movie that everyone watches on Christmas, New Years, or days that end in -y.

People smile so much in Denmark, sometimes their lips stick to their gums. Maybe its all the wine gums. The looker Prince Ingolf is an example of this. With his toothy grin.


I whizz past the queen’s guards everyday on my ride home. I salute them, even though I’m an American.

This country loves foreigners.

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I’ve given up driving all together since moving to Denmark, in favor of my red city bike I call my “shitty bike.” Here, there’s panache attached to riding the crappiest set of wheels on the street. Like all the years of hard riding with the scratches, the drunken tumbles, the spills in the rain, give the bike street cred. Sometimes cyclists get huffy and kindly cut you off in the bike lane. Once, I caught myself lunging for the horn – as if I were in my old car. The medal handlebar splintered my fist.

That urge is a remnant of my anger management years, driving around the streets of Los Angeles.

I used to roll phone calls to my mom during my morning commute to the Paramount lot in Hollywood– which took 1 hour and covered 16 km. She would sweetly hold the line when I told her I had to put the phone down to free up my middle finger.

It’s just part of the deal of building a life in LA: topsy-turvy, hypnotic, smoggy.

Double-shot skinny lattes, therapy-on-the-go, colonics, puffery, cocktails at Chateau Marmot, smoking with the top down on the drive home from yoga. The idiosyncracies are seductive and come in decaf. 

Living in LA, you spend a good portion of your day in your car. You bond with it – you make it your office, your bedroom and you fill it with important things like Chicken McNuggets, tape mixes, lip balm and blow-up dolls (for sneaking into the carpool lane on the 405 Freeway).

Many important life events took place in my station-wagon. I was asked out for a date at In & Out Burger, I’ve had meaningful relationships with other drivers that went on for blocks; and I’ve driven head-first into a live film shot starring Al Pacino (granted, that was in a golf cart on the Paramount lot). But you get my point. Even escaping to the 'office' meant I was behind another set of wheels.


On a recent business trip to LA, my boyfriend asked me if we should walk from our hotel to dinner at a nearby restaurant. It didn’t feel safe – I had to decline his offer. Drivers aren’t used to seeing pedestrians on the sidewalk. I wouldn’t want to alarm them.

Two years ago, I sold my beloved sage green Subaru to a sweet couple from Sacramento. We struck a fair deal, and they were “delighted” to give their lesbian cash to a young lady taking off for nobler pursuits in Europe.

If they’d known the extent of my nobility was a tipsy cyclist's salute to the fuzzy-hat-wearing guards in front of the castle in front of my flat, they could have low-balled me more.

I think of them sometimes, and my old car, my old fast-driving life:

The Pacific Coast Highway, the drive-thrus, the fender benders and those who surprise you by letting you in. 

I miss it just enough to keep me pedaling harder and faster on my red shitty bike.


* For søde Gitte Holm