I miss touching S., having her body near me, the private pillow talk of couples. I’m far from other people these days. I’ve started seeing people on the street I think I recognise from England. I’ve even stopped and looked back at strangers. Sometimes a word comes into my head and I’m sure I see it on a sign or a passing van, or hear some passerby say it.
I’m glued to my phone and my laptop. A million words and images pass me by every day. Occasionally something stays, for a second. Only my crows, when they hop up to me as I walk up the hill, give me some grip on the day. I like to imagine it’s a silent little friendship. You take your scraps of nature where you can in the city.
My whole being cries out for love, for something different. Nothing in my face or movements betrays it: I’m Danish after all. Denmark is considered one of the world’s happiest countries. That’s always confused me. It seems too real to me, with its lifeless suburbs and perfectly sensible people. So real it’s dreamlike. Happiness here means nothing and no one out of joint: no cracks, no one out of the system.
Hayfever, brainfog. Despite the discomfort it’s a relief to have an excuse for not being able to connect things in my head. It’s a bit dreamlike, walking through the park – which is full of blooming flowers these days – but not like the grey dream of the past couple of years. I feel better.
I told myself before I left Vienna that it would take two years to get over it. Now how would I know that? I didn’t think it when I walked past the building sites in the North Harbour that winter day when she told me the Russian had moved into our flat. I hoped a crane would drop a breezeblock on my head, or the wind would sweep me into the freezing water. It was a pleasure to imagine.
In dreams, as everyone knows, things and events are often out of joint. Yet sometimes there are lucid moments when you can almost see through the dream and have the power to change it, for example when you can suddenly fly where you want. I’m starting to think one can sense one’s future in the same way. You sense where the dream is going and bide your time until the right moment.
The only real question I’ve asked myself in these past two years is whether it was fate or chance that led me here. But now the question seems wrong, and unsolvable, it only led me in circles.
The difference between writing, say, an email and typing in this journal, even if you write the same sentence; there’s an abyss between them.
And from the depths of falseness God answers, and my world seems vanishingly small. No matter where in the world I am.
Yesterday I went to see the building where Kierkegaard wrote The Sickness Unto Death and his autobiography. It took me a while to spot the plaque. His flat was above a tanner’s business, and he was bothered by the stench of entrails in the gutter on the street below. His solution was to move to the neighbouring building, where the smell was just as bad. Today the tanner’s business is a skincare clinic.
The North Harbour, where my flat is, is a massive construction site, with half-built corporate buildings, a metro station, ugly modernist apartment blocks – and behind it hundreds of shipping containers stretching out to the Sound. When I stick my head out the window I count five cranes. On the street are two scaffolds and stormwater protection works. I hear the tok-tok of a train pulling into the station and an underwater thudding: they’re building another artificial island to make room for more buildings and prevent flooding when the rising water comes.
I go to the Aldi by the station, walk past the Little Mermaid and around the ramparts. I last about a week at a time here before I pack my rucksack and cycle to my parents’ place in the posh part of town, near the city’s biggest park, my crows, and the zoo, where I walk about looking at the animals in their cages.
My mind’s muddled after all this time alone. I don’t know if I’m good or bad, how or where I should live. I’m starting to think in Danish. Unnerving as always to live among Danes and listening to how they think. I passed an ad for a political party on the side of a bus stop today:
That hasn’t changed, I think to myself. But it rings extra hollow now.
Now a quiet evening sinks over Copenhagen, with that sweetly melancholic Danish light the old painters captured so well. It makes me so uneasy I have to go out and bike halfway around the city.
A dream last night. I was in a sort of compound: a mix of a festival site and a slum. Someone took the food I was carrying and threw it up a stairwell, where rats swarmed on it behind a corner. I tried to get it back but had to retreat. I left through a gap in a fence, where I saw my wallet, which had been trampled into the mud. I hadn’t realised I’d lost it.
Please God, I said when I walked by the church yesterday, out of nowhere. Please God. It made me feel better for the rest of the day, even if it seemed false as I said it.