"I have never flown before in such a large plane. The plane that flew me to the embassy was a lot smaller.”
“Are you scared?”
"No, not really, I was a little scared when we took offbut I'm ok now.”
"I'm glad. When we get home, I think you'll like living in Denmark."
After lunch I took a nap. Michael again was in my dream, he was smiling and nodding his head in approval. "Stephan, wake up. We need to get ready to land. You don't want to miss this."
I looked out of the window as the ground came closer and closer and then I felt a bump as the plane touched down on the tarmac. I just smiled at my aunt as I looked out the window.
"Gather up you belongings, we'll have to clear customs before we can get your luggage."
Arriving in Denmark was a new experience for me. I had never been outside of the US, and now I was in a new country, which would become my home. I kept looking for something. I wasn't sure what. Everything looked like it could be anywhere in the States except people were talking in a different language. I understood some of what was said, but they were talking too fast for me to understand everything. Clearing customs, picking up our luggage, I followed Aunty to the parking area and her car. After loading the luggage in the trunk, Aunty drove away from the airport. I wasn't sure how far from the airport she lived, but I did enjoy the scenery. We drove through several small villages before we began to turn toward the sea.
"I think you'll like living in Denmark. We live close to the sea. My house isn't large but it's warm and we have plenty of room. You'll have to help me, but that shouldn't be a problem for you.”
She was right. Her house was close to the sea. As we pulled into her driveway, I noticed a few cows in a pasture to the left of the drive way. Behind the pasture there was a barn. I saw some chickens in the field. Now I knew what free range was all about.
Walking into her home, I knew I'd be happy here. Just like my mother, there were plants and pictures on the walls. Several were of two little girls, I knew that one of those girls was my mother. I felt warm, like I was home.
"Stephan, take your luggage to the your bedroom. It's upstairs, the last room on the right."
I took the suitcase and the small carry-on that I had with me on the plane, heading up the stairs to what will be my room. When I opened the bedroom door, I began to cry. The room reminded me so much of my room in the States. The bed was covered in a duvet very similar to the one I had. When you think about it, I should have expected this home to be a reflection of my mother. Two sisters, separated by distance, but still very much influenced by their upbringing. I unpacked my suitcase and thanks to John, I had the picture of my mother that I had in my room back home. This picture was all I had, but in this room, it was enough.
"Stephan, as soon as you unpack, I'll show you around." It didn't take me long to unpack. I did change my clothes.
"I'm glad you changed into more comfortable clothes. I want to show you around and you might get your good clothes dirty.”
I followed her out the back door, there was a garden offto the right. Walking to the left, I saw where the chickens roosted, then we entered the barn. She showed me the cold room, the milking buckets, and the stalls where the cows would be while they were milked.
"Tonight before dinner, we'll have to milk the cows. While we were gone, Mr. Anders from the village milked the cows and picked up the eggs. Now we'll have to do that."
We walked to the sea which was like ten minutes away.
"Can you fish here?”
"Oh yes, do you see that wooden ramp that goes out to the sea? The boys usually fish from there. You'll see tomorrow morning, there will be boys there and then in the evening some of the men. I think I have an old fishing pole in the barn you can use."
I think I'll be happy here. Saying that to myself, I would’ve sworn I heard Michael say ‘God loves you.’ I smiled at my aunt as we walked back to the cottage.
"I'm going to take a nap, please call me when it’s time to milk the cows." My aunt just kissed me on the head, I then went to my room for a nap.
When I awoke, I could hear my aunt talking to someone. "Yes, the trip went very well... I think he'll like it here, so far everything has been positive... I'm sorry about him having to move to another country, but I'm glad he's here....Yes, my sister and I were very close...No, I didn't want her to leave but she fell in love...I'm thankful to her for giving me such a gift... Yes, I'll introduce him to the neighbors at church on Sunday...No, Monday I'll take him to school... Of course you're invited, when will you be here?... OK, just call before and you can have dinner with us... Thanks for calling and take care.”
"Did you sleep well?”
"Yes, the bed is very comfortable. Better than my old bed.”
"That was your mother's bed. When we were little girls, I had the room next to yours and your mother had your room.”
I thought about that. Is that why I slept so well? Is that why the room seem to welcome me? I just smiled at my aunt, in a way to let her know I'm happy to be here.
"Come and I'll show you how to milk the cows."
I followed her to the barn. She showed me how to prepare a warm bucket of sudsy water. I carried the water to the first stall, she opened the barn door to let the cows in. They were standing outside waiting, as if they knew and maybe they did. Who knows what cows think. I watched as each cow moved toward a stall. As the cow put her head through a brace that would allowed them to eat the grass in a trough in front of the brace, Aunty adjusted the brace to hold them.
"They are content to eat while we milk them. The brace holds them so they don't decide to walk away before we’re finished.”
I watched Aunty as she washed the area under the cows, she called it their milk bag, then she washed their teats. Once she was done washing this area, she rinsed the area with clean water. Sitting on a stool, she showed me how to milk a cow.
"Now you need to get another stool and wash the other cow."
I went and got another stool, sitting down I washed the cow as Aunty had done. I couldn't see her, but if I looked under the cow, I could see what she was doing. After washing the cow's milk bag and teats, I tried to do what Aunty was doing but no luck.
"Stephen, make a circle around the teat at the top, squeeze gently, then without relaxing the circle, pull down."
I tried it several times until I saw some milk drip out into the bucket. By this time, Aunty was finished, she let the other cow back out to the pasture.
"Tighten your circle a little more. When you feel that you can't tighten it any more, pull down.” I did as she said, I got a full stream of milk out.
“Now, instead of pulling down, just put your thumb and first finger around the teat. Then roll the other fingers down like this.”
I watched Aunty and then did as she showed me. Soon I was milking away, and my bucket was getting full. When I couldn't get any more milk, Aunty checked and said that was all there was.
"Now we have to do this twice a day, once in the morning and once before supper."
"What happens if we don't do this?”
"Their milk will dry up, then we can't get anymore milk till they have a calf. By doing this each day, we'll have all of the milk we need. Bring your bucket and follow me.”
We walked into the cold room, Aunty opened the large refrigerator and poured our buckets into a stainless steel vat.
"The milk needs to be cooled down or it will go sour. Once it is cooled, we can separate the cream from the milk and make butter or use the cream for cooking.”
"That's a lot of milk. I can't drink that much milk.”
“No, once the milk has cooled, we put it in that can. When it’s full, we sell the milk. You'll see, when it’s full, I'll call a man who will come and pick it up. The same with the extra eggs. Let's go and get cleaned up, we'll go to the village tavern for dinner."
I knew as soon as we entered the tavern, everyone in the village will know Stephan and that he was staying with me. One thing about a small village, gossip travels fast. I knew before long, Stephan will have a lot of friends, he'll be a novelty being from the States.
When we entered the tavern, I never saw so many people come and welcome Aunty back. I saw some of the kids looking at me, a few of the girls smiled at me. I smiled back. A couple of the older boys came over and introduced themselves, I was glad I knew a little Danish. I looked at Aunty, she was smiling. Soon I was dragged to a table with the other kids, then it became impossible for me to remember all of their names. I did remember one boy’s name. He looked older than me. Reminded me of Thor. He was tall, with blond hair and blue eyes. I thought he was very handsome and I wanted to know more about him. All of the girls sat around me. They asked questions, one being will I be living here. I answered that I would be living here with my aunt. Then, did I have a girl friend back home? No, I didn't have a girl friend back home. Why am I living with my aunt? My mother who was my aunt’s sister wanted me to live in Denmark when she died. Then everything got quiet.
I looked over to my aunt who obviously was listening to everything being said at my table. She smiled at me. I smiled back. Then the food came, one thing about teenagers, no matter where you are, food quiets everyone. I wasn't sure what the food was that I ate except it was very good. No hamburgers or pizza, but it was delicious, I really enjoyed it. After dinner, the kids started again. They asked if I was going to go to school here. I said I was and would start as soon as my aunt enrolled me. I had to explain what enrolled meant since I said that in English. Thor understood and just smiled at me. No matter that his name was Nohr, to me he was Thor.
The rest of the evening, everyone talked about school and wanted to know if it was different from the States. There were several questions about the States and what I did for fun. The girls just looked at me and giggled once in a while as they whispered back and forth. Girls are the same the world over, I think, they whisper and giggle.
On the way home, "Did you have fun tonight?”
"Yes, I did but boy the questions. They just kept coming, I felt like a celebrity.”
"In a way you are. You're probably the first person any of these kids have seen from the States. You wait till you start school, there will be a lot of questions from the teachers as well as other students. I listened to some of your discussions, I think you did very well. Stephan, I want you to know one thing, I know you’re gay, and that doesn't bother me at all. I also saw you looking a lot at Nohr, he's a very nice boy. I wouldn't mind you becoming friends with him. He'll help you in learning Danish. In fact from this point on we'll speak nothing but Danish.”
I just smiled at her, as I saw Michael whispering, ‘God is love,’ as we walked by the sea.