We are back in Denmark. It's warm and sunny and feels like, maybe not spring, but definitely like normal March. We are running on trails in woods that are just few days away from erupting into green. The kids are outside on playgrounds; Christian begs to bike around Susåen.
Duluth, a place far South of here, is still locked in Actic air.
I cannot believe how cold the Winter has been in Duluth. Duluthians love bragging about their cold winters, and we certainly heard plenty horror stories when we moved in last summer. But the relentless cold and wind have still been shocking and overwhelming. Too much, almost. From November until now, biking or going to a playground with the kids has been realistically impossible. It has not been a winter I care to live through again.
When we moved to Duluth last summer, we weren't sure what kind of move it was. Was it for good? Was it just a place to stay while the Girl applied for residency? Maybe something in between?
Six months later, it seems like Duluth will end up being a short-term home. The Girl finalized her match list last week and Duluth Family Medicine was not on there. Despite living there and me working at the hospital (and even sometimes teaching the residents), she didn't even get an interview. She may have been "over-qualified", but I think she would have considered taking a position, if one had been offered to her. It certainly would have made a lot of things easier in our lives.
Minneapolis is the closest thing on the list to "home", which by now is an ill-defined area beween La Crosse, Duluth and Milwaukee. But it sits very low on the list; so low that matching there seems very unlikely.
So where are we going, and when? Well, we don't know, but an educated guess would be either Utah or California. Both are pretty cool places, of course. We'll know on March 21st where we are going (and when; it could be this summer or the next). Being from flat, civilized, parcelled-out Denmark, I would be lying if I said I wasm't excited about moving to the mountains. Just imagine: home will be next to the Wasatch, Sierra Nevadas or California's coastal range mountains.
The only problem is that these mountains are not exactly close to the kids in La Crosse. That part sucks, but there is no way around it; we'll just have to make the best of it. At least the kids will visit us in a cool place. I did try to convince Natali to come with us to California (if that's where we end up), but she wasn't buying it.
She has gone through a major change since moving to America last summer. School in Denmark was 6 hours a day. There was maybe half an hour of homework at night, abd the rest was soccer, tv, friends, playing the guitar and whatever else she felt like. Now, she catches the school bus before 7 and is home at 4. She worries about papers and tests and grades; much more than is reasonable, in my opinion. She gets straight A's, so she is doing something right. It's just so all-consuming.
I spent three days with Natali and Andreas. The boys were with the Girl in Denmark, so it was just me and the big kids. Andreas was excited about the weekend plans: Lego movie, Star Wars trilogy, pizza and board games. Natali looked like some angry princess of darkness and made it very clear that everything in her life would suck until Sunday afternoon arrived and she would be done spending time with me. Well, alrighty then.
Thursday night, we went to the mall. Natali cheered up a little, even though she would not admit it. The mall is place the cool girls go to. It seems kind of old-fashioned to go to a mall to hang, but maybe the kids have gone full circle on that. She showed me her favorite books at Barnes and Noble. And that's when it happened: Andreas brought up Dungeons and Dragons and Natali seemed at least slightly interested in it. They had heard about the game but never played. I let it be known that I had been quite the dungeon master back in the day, and that we could certainly play a game if they wanted to.
So we bought a rules and monsters encyclopedia and bought the special dice. We ordered pizza and started playing. Natali was a female wizard and Andreas was a young warrior. They teamed up with a master thief named Snake Plisken, they fought alongside a dwarf named Rufus, who was eventually petrified by an Obelisk. Andreas hired a young squire named Natali who, in an interesting twist, was a moody teenager like real-life Natali, but who fell deeply in love with Andreas' character.
We played and we played, for two straight days. People came and went. Some died. Andreas briefly turned on Natali (with the help of Natali, his squire) and they were screaming at each other. Some rules were made up by me as we went along. On Sunday, they were both begging to stay with me for a few more hours and wailed over the fact that they would not see me in weeks.
D&D: my secret weapon. Who knew?