I’m back in Copenhagen for the first time since we moved to Canberra and it’s wonderful (no pun intended) to be here.
During the long flight over from Australia, I wondered how I would feel about being back in what is my favourite city in the world – would I regret leaving, would I feel that the place had moved on and lost its personal welcome, or would I realise that the time had been right for a separation and that all things, however good, have an end.
In fact, so far, it’s been all of those things. On my first evening here I hopped over to Sweden on the train and met a couple of old friends for dinner – one of them the former HR chief responsible for approving my recruitment in Denmark.
As we talked and laughed an reminisced, I was able, for the first time, to tell him that the move from London was so perfectly timed that it’s hard to imagine any other path lay open to me. My eldest son had just been born and I looked down the barrel of my work/life ‘balance’ in London and decided that being absent between 6.30 and 7.30pm daily wasn’t the sort of parent that I wanted to be.
The move to Denmark gave us 10 years of a much more family-oriented existence, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Today, as I took the bus to a meeting in the Copenhagen suburbs, the barman at my favourite pub here – The Globe – climbed aboard, did a double take at my face, and then joined me for a quick catch up on our move, life here and his plans for the future. He’s a new Dad, and an Irish expat, and we talked about whether Denmark was the best place in the world to be a new parent. We agreed that it was.
Bumping into him, seeing old friends, revisiting old haunts, have all conspired to make me feel more like a local than a visitor. As it did 10 years ago, this place has opened its arms to me and made me feel a part of it, which is something I could never say about my home city of London.
Do I regret the move? No. Do I miss this place? Yes. And believe me, if you can miss (or even stomach) Copenhagen in February, then you’re doing better than most born and bred Copenhageners.
But was the time right to move on? Seeing the HR guy and bumping into the barman made me realise something – Copenhagen was perfect for us, but perfect for us then. I won’t rehash all the research we did to reach our conclusion, but a couple of years ago we decided that Canberra was right for us now and, we think, the future.
I’ve got a week left in Copenhagen, with more people to catch up with and more favourite places to go and see, but when I leave, again, I’ll be ready. Ready to go home, to Canberra.