What's Your Dream World?: in which she rants about Very Minor Things, and also toys with escapism.

This morning I went to church because it was my turn to do kaffe hour. The brownies I made wouldn’t bake properly and I ended up scooping them out of the pan one strip at a time,  flipping them upside down on a cookie sheet, and putting them back in the oven so the bottoms wouldn’t be gooey. Then I went to three shops trying to find paper cups, to no avail. When I got to the church someone had hosted a catered party the night before and brought over all the leftovers, so all my stuff stayed packed in the grocery bags.

Since I didn’t have to prep my cold cut platters, I went into the sanctuary for the second half of the services and immediately started crying. I do that at lot at church. I think it has something to do with processing the deep loss of Leaving Church after so many decades of dedication. (We only go once in a while now, to give the kids a taste in case they like it and to take Communion which is all rite-and-ritual and kinda pagany–I do love it so!) 

Anyway, this Sunday I realized that while I’m sure I still have a nice deep well of  Leaving Church sorrow, I was also tearing up because I am so damn depleted from this expat living thing. I just want to buy a coke with ice in less than 15 minutes; buy clothes that don’t look like pregnancy-smocks with leggings; and for godsake be able to pick up paper cups on a Sunday! The closer we get to our sabbatical, the more on-edge I become. It reminds me of how we used to completely max out on being parents about 45 minutes before the babysitter arrived.

The toughest thing about living here–other than the vitamin D depletion– is a leathal cocktail of one part too-small adult-friends community + two parts  “family time” with the children. Recently the small community has shrunk even more, and the kids have had approximately one million days off from school. Yeah, it’s a deadly combination.

In past month I’ve said goodbye to:

-our BFF Family, who moved to Portland, OR.
-my favorite soulsister/artist in CPH.
-a pastoral collegue who actually “gets” me.
-the only other American family in the kid’s folkskole.
-6 of the kid’s friends. (There’s 2 left.)

I’m trying hard to see the benefits of this expansive web of friendship that now lies all over the world. But my deep communitarian roots are showing, and all this bon voyaging is wearing at me until “I feel thin and stretched, like butter spread over too much bread.” (Frodo, I believe.)

On the other hand, I am longing for solitude right now. Paul is Stateside for week doing the Microsurf thing, and I’m at home alone with the girls. Today when I got to church my enjoyable pal Joel asked me how I was. I sighed and absentmindedly said,

“My children never stop talking.” 

This literally cracked him up. He’s child-free and apparently not accustomed to parents saying unflattering things about their beloved offspring. And yet, the sorry truth of it is that Eden and Cate talk non-stop: in English, in Danish, and I swear in some sort of alien language they learned from Dr. Who. And that’s when they haven’t had sugar. Post-Sunday School Cupcakes, this is what Cate did under her breathe the whole way home on the bus today:

“It’s chilly outside. Chilly Willy. That’s a good name for a penguin. Chilly Will was a Penguin. Chillywillychwillywillypenguinchillyoustside for penguinsnamedchillywillychilly…”

And she’s the quiet one.

So rather than whine and rant any further, let me just say this about that…

In my dream world I live the life of a hermit, on a deserted beach where the temperature is a constant 83 and breezy. Even tho I am all solitary and sh*t, I get to go out to lunch for big salads 3 days a week with my soulsisters…and there is a guitarist who lives outside my door with his band and they play amazing songs on demand. Oh, and there’s a bathtub with super soft bamboo towels. And superfast internet. And conjugal visits.  Yeah, that sounds about right.

Where do you escape when life wears you down? What’s your dream world? Do tell…

Pu’uhonua: “City of Refuge,”  Hawaii.
What’s your dream world?

Heather June 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm

This hit home, thanks for putting it into words.

I’m not an expat but sometimes I feel like an alien in my world. Where is my escape? I’m not sure. I think it’s in learning new things and pushing my own boundaries. I like to feel like I’m growing because I can make that happen when the world around me doesn’t “seem” like it’s changing.

My kids don’t stop talking either. It’s delightful but (mostly) exhausting.

Trenda Plunkett June 14, 2009 at 4:57 pm

So glad I’m not the only one who occasionally fantasizes about a quiet, hermit-ish life on a beach. :-)

Thank you for your honesty.



Jolie June 14, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Rachelle, I’m remembering 2006 when my ex-pat community was all about the good-bye party. I’m taking a few deep breaths on your behalf and sending you all my sparkly thoughts today.

As for my dream world, my imaginary escape hatch is a warm cabin in the mountains near a lake with lots of trees. There’s an occasional snow, but only enough to make everything pretty, not enough to make life miserable. There’s an unlimited supply of yarn, a comfy chair and a fire for roasting marshmallows. Though, someone else roasts the marshmallows without burning them, because I just like eating them. My cabin is connected by bus (because I’m not driving in the snow) to a major city with a real art supply store, a good yoga studio and a decent vegetarian restaurant. Chris lives in the cabin next door and it’s connected by a walkway– kind of like the set up that Frida Kahlo and Diego had (minus Diego’s girlfriends). And yes, superfast internet, a hot tub, and excellent north light windows for painting. I could keep going with this for days, I think…

Margretha June 14, 2009 at 11:22 pm

HAHAHA, and I was wearing one of those smocks ;oD Not expecting though :-)

Dream place? Back home in the Faroes, the chickens, the potato patch, the dome-office in the garden, earning a living talking to interesting people and telling stories in text and sound.
Well, kind of possible… only I want warm summers too, and fruittrees and fish for dinner four times a week (that one is possible too…., have to think harder here….)
Yes, having a solid and secure base, a place to call my own, tastefully decorated and magically tidy, happy, thriving and creative children doing their thing and letting me share the ride. No laundry or at least only when I really would love to do some. Yes and travelling the world in a gipsy wagon. With the family. And quiet time when I want it. A tidy gipsy wagon.
What a mix.

Becky Knight June 15, 2009 at 3:03 am

I can so relate! I have three kids, and my oldest is Olyvia (age 8). She can talk on and on about any number of subjects, and loves us to quiz her on animal facts or multiplication tables. I love her curious and passionate nature, but she exhausts me.

I used to feel bad that I loved time away from the kids, but I’ve come to realize that my introvert self needs that time in order to recharge my “batteries.” I’m happier when I can make time for myself, even if it’s just a few stolen moments curled up in the hammock in my back yard.

When I go somewhere in my mind, it’s to the North Shore of Minnesota, up on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior. I love the feel of being up high over the water crashing on the rocks below, feeling a cool breeze against my skin, and looking out over the water. I’d be staying at Naniboujou Lodge, in a quiet room overlooking the Lake and eating wonderful meals next to their huge dining room stone fireplace. In the morning I’d read in one of their big adirondack chairs on the shore, in the afternoon take nature walks, and in the evening have a glass of wine on the porch.

Ahhh, it’s a wonderful place to go, if only in my mind!

lisa (msla) June 15, 2009 at 6:34 am

If I need a quick escape, I rocket back to my memory of floating au naturel in cool-warm turquoise blue water in a totally deserted bay on the north tip of the south island of NZ. The sand was golden, I’d just had a hot day of hiking and slipping into the water was utter bliss.

My dream escape? A backwoods cabin next to warm turquoise ocean. It has lovely old wooden furniture and warm colours all around. It’s solitary, but I see my soulsisters regularly and have a generous lover who totally gets me and who drops when he picks up the vibe. Someone drops off healthy groceries and I have all the time (and creativity) into the world to make them into delicious meals. Count me in on the fast internet. I want an always heated outdoor bathtub and soft fluffy towels. I also want a yoga teacher who comes to my cabin daily to do one-on-one yoga. I can also magically paint and create fabulous art.

Kel June 15, 2009 at 11:23 am

a real art supply store
and decent vegetarian restaurant
yep – that would be Melbourne :)

funny that

when i lived there
here was my island escape
now i live on the island escape
melbourne is my escape

what’s that you say . . .
greener grass?

Cindy Spencer June 15, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I can so relate to “my children never stop talking,” and it makes me even crazier when my husband is out of town, like the ten days we’re in (including end of school – how is this a good idea?) For years it was only my daughter, she-who-never-stops-talking, but now my autism-spectrum son has found his voice, and I long for silence. And yet, with my partner gone, I ironically also long for companionship (just the adult kind!). Sending wishes for patience and SUN, which seems to make all things go down easier.

Rebecca June 15, 2009 at 6:54 pm

rachelle, i’ve been lurking on your blog for a few weeks now. your wise words and humour have really been helping me through a tough time, so many thanks for that.

i have a 17 year old daughter, and every now and then i have to remind myself how great it is that she still talks to me (sometimes non-stop, it seems)! as a former expat (british and living in the US for 13 years), i can almost taste the expat-blues, as you describe them. what helped me was reading books that transported me, tardis-like, back to england. i had a little shelf of books that i wallowed in when circumstances demanded a little wallowing be done. now i am ‘home’ and my special bookshelf is full of books that can whisk me back to america in a flash … of course, i miss life there as much as i missed life here. we humans are such contrary creatures!

as for my place to escape to: it is a hidden hummock by a tiny, steep-sided stream in east sussex, within walking distance of my home. the stream is like a minature grand canyon; it’s sides are covered in moss and ferns; in autumn there are drifts of golden leaves; in spring a carpet of bluebells; in summer the fields i walk through to reach my secret place are full of red sorrel, golden buttercups, butterflies, skylarks; and even in the grip of winter there is a strange stark beauty about this place that captivates me.

good night!

p.s my favourite clothing company is a danish one — noa noa! i guess they are a bit smockalicious, but also amazing colours and fabrics and great skirts.

Lynette June 17, 2009 at 6:45 am

Was just thinking today I need 2 things: alone time and rejuvenation, that’s my connection to your beautiful writing. The alone time I think I can figure out once this school year finally ends after all the strike days and snow days we have to make up. The soul rejuvination used to be church, I don’t know how to get that regular set aside time now, perhaps I need to get back to my yoga class…and something else… Thanks Rachelle, I’m thinking again…

Pam at beyondjustmom June 19, 2009 at 2:19 am

I can definitely relate to this, and I love the picture of the City of Refuge! We visited there in February and I wrote this piece:
place of refuge
Definitely a slice a paradise I’d like to escape to. . . daily. Nice to know we’re not alone.

Previous post:

Next post: