The next morning I draw the curtains to a grey, familiar view. We’ve arrived in Copenhagen, looking out at sea to the stone defences sitting out in the water. A seaplane makes a landing. We eat breakfast on the 9th deck, looking down at the row of red Hop-On Hop-Off buses waiting for guests to make their way towards them.
We visited Copenhagen last year, in the dead of January when we essentially had the place to ourselves. I lived here for about three months over summer in 2012. We have no rush to see anything here, so we decide on a stroll and a coffee shop we liked on Kongens Nytorv so we can get some internet access and confront the real world before switching off again.
I guess you can say you know a place when you can walk around unaided by a map, unsurprised by the location of coffee shops, the exact layout of the sofa you like and the taste of their chai lattes. The constancy of some things is a reassurance.
My time in Copenhagen in 2012 was an interesting moment in my life. It was here I decided I couldn’t possibly continue working the way I did, and thought about my options and potential. I can’t say I had a lot of support from some people in my life who were meant to be important. Here am, six years later looking out at the harbour of Copenhagen and considering my past year. I return to this city married, on honeymoon, with a first class degree and a good part-time job, with hope for the future.
I remember talking via Skype with my friend Randy, who appeared on my laptop screen like an oracle, telling me everything was going to be fine. He attended our wedding in March. He was right.
I’m glad we did everything we wanted to do in Copenhagen in January, despite the intense cold. We walk past the Little Mermaid statue now, and we can barely see her. It’s a thicket of arms holding up cameras and tablets, pushing each other over to take a selfie. I think about Don Dellilo, and his piece on tourist attractions, about how the importance isn’t the object but the space the object inhabits. The poor Little Mermaid might as well not be here.
I enjoy seeing local people walking around. Scandinavians are eminently fashionable. It reminds me to look after myself a little more, to not lose myself this coming academic year in front of a computer screen and walking backwards and forwards every available opportunity to my part-time job. Take a little time to breath, make a little cruise ship bubble of your own in London.