I conned poor Mads and Michelle into taking me in to their home for two nights in Sorgenfri ("Sorrow-free") outside of Copenhagen. It was particularly sweet of them to welcome me in with their home under work, meaning I crowded an already full house.
Mads and Michelle I met in Krakow, but the other three members of the family I got to know during my stay.
Oliver (family friend), myself, Elias, and Albert
Elias, 12, is a handsome-son-of-a-gun whose school photos wouldn't have looked out of place in a teen fashion magazine. He was initially slow to respond to me in English on the drive home from the airport, filling pauses with "uhm"s and often switching to Danish to ask his mom for a word. By the morning I left, Elias was rattling off sentences as though English was the only language he knew - at the end, he confided in me "I never knew English could be so fun."
Albert is three years younger than his brother, and was fast asleep the night I arrived. In the morning he shyly said hello, but took a bit more time to warm up to me. I came to find out that he understood English just fine, but hadn't had much practice at all speaking it. Once I used the universal boy language - rough housing, throwing him over my shoulder and hanging him upside down - he went up to his mother and said "Oh, he's sweet. I think I like him."
The fifth member of the family was Emma, and she was our excuse to go on walks through the gorgeous Danish countryside, especially verdant after a week of rain.
We went to the city proper one day and enjoyed a tour through Copenhagen's canals and across the harbor. Elias sat across from me and we talked all about rattlesnakes and buffalo and all the things that make Wyoming a boy's dream. As we passed by the opera house, which was funded from the pockets of a single person, the conversation switched to wealth and Elias shared some naive logic of how the world should work.
Elias asked me how much money I make in a day, which isn't a way I've ever thought about my salary. After a bit of math, I kind of surprised myself with the number and followed it up with "which seems like far more than I actually deserve - I'm just lucky."
No, you do deserve that money because you travel around the world!
In the evening, Michelle and the boys went home while Mads and I went out for an evening of beers and nerdery with Oscar and Martin (whom I also met at the conference). Safe to say we had a fantastic evening.
Me, Martin, Oscar, Mads
On my last day, Michelle and I toured around a park filled with historic farm houses and buildings and had lunch in the nice weather.
On our way home we stopped by the boys' school. Subconsciously I was sure we were breaking a rule walking onto a playground filled with children unannounced, but then I realized this is Denmark, not the U.S. Here, rather than banning families from schools, they've banned guns.
I gave the boys hugs goodbye, and then a few more hugs goodbye, and then after making them promise to harass their parents until they agreed to take family vacation to Wyoming I boarded a train to Halmstad.
I'm really sincerely grateful to Mads, Michelle, Elias and Albert for inviting me into their lives for a few days. It's very special to get to pretend I'm part of a family in a far-away land.
Sorry for eating your pantry empty - it wouldn't've happened if the food wasn't so delicious.
Can't wait to see you all again.