Monday, January 22, 2007

Sliding Glass Doors, National Libraries & Other Reflective Surfaces

If there's one thing I've noticed in my short time in Copenhagen so far, it's the overwhelming number of sliding glass doors. I first encountered this design statement as I went through Passport Control at the airport. After checking my embarassing photo (think Nick Nolte's infamous mugshot) and shiny visa, I had to pass through a short tunnel with not one, not two, but four sliding glass doors of varying sizes. It seemed unnecessary, but also beautiful. The mechanisms involved allow for a smooth, graceful gesture. It truly is a pleasure to walk through them. Glass doors are also found on the metro here, with the platform of some stations completely encased by clear glass. Individual metro cars also have glass doors as borders and can be opened with the simple touch of a button. I see this as a way the Danes have of foregrounding modern technology's most fundamental and magical feature: its invisibility. Here I am, walking through glass doors that sense my presence almost intuitively. Each slide is a welcoming and a promise. Each successful entry of mine is a small victory -- something I hear the Danes appreciate more than most -- that allows me to count one more day that I did not smack into a wall and cry.

I think I've made quite the impression on my roommate, Elizabeth. I don't mean that I accomplished conveying a deep sense of myself in the hours we chatted sitting on the kitchen countertops drinking tea; I mean that when I woke up from a three hour nap to find that she had prepared dinner for me, I entered the dining room only to shout in my delirium, "MEATBALLLLLLLLLLLLS!" Really, I was thrilled. She seemed thrilled that I was thrilled. She'd prepared a full Danish meal with authentic Danish meatballs (patty-shaped, pan-fried), plus pasta, Bearnaise sauce and a blood-red shredded apple and berry salad. Elizabeth is a beautiful Danish woman. 25. Political science student. Saavy, sophisticated, yet grounded ("I don't understand how some Danish women can spend up to two hours in the morning getting ready. I believe in upholding other values," she said, adjusting her skirt). She lit candles for the dinner and told me about the history behind her furniture. (Most of the pieces came from her family's summer house.) She'd designated a full cabinet for my use, along with a metal shower rack and a wicker basket for my toiletries. She even got me fully stocked with groceries and laundry things. She makes me feel immediately at ease and she runs a laidback household. I imagine that the easy-going atmosphere here is what I would cultivate in my own apartment five years from now. While eating the very meatballs I so enthusiastically salivated over, she dropped the bomb that she is leaving this Thursday for a week to snorkel in Egypt with her boyfriend. What a woman!

My travel to Denmark over Saturday and Sunday was as painless a trip as I could have hoped for. Sleep and consciousness became virtually indistinguishable within the eight hour flight. In the airport I met a ton of DIS students, one of whom goes to Brown with me (just met!) and another of whom went to high school with me. It was a literal party in the terminal with excited American students running around. I floated from group to group, making small-talk and participating in the inappropriate, though requisite ticking unattended luggage jokes. There were some Danes on the flight with us, too, identifiable by what else but blonde hair and sharp outfits. I read some of my New Yorker on the flight, watched some How I Met Your Mother and a documentary about savants.

Everything is beautiful here. I understand that I am in the honeymoon phase where all sidewalks and all spaces become holy places. I also understand that in this phase any successful movement from point A to B without angering any locals or being crushed by bicycles is tantamount to winning the Nobel Prize. I got through my first night of loneliness and isolation, sleeplessness and nervous excitement. I think now my job is, among other things, learning to be the best pedestrian I can be. I believe that this will have something to do with rhythm.

1 comment:

adrienne said...

my flight was mostly How I Met Your Mother and The Last Kiss. The latter was a dual screening including the Trinidadian lady next to me going "Oh no he didn't!! That's right! Kick him out!"

your living situation sounds so cute! I wish I could have a nice British lady!