The sun rises at 8:30 and it’s dark by 4pm. It’s cold but so cold that no one really notices (except to say it’s too windy to ride a bike, and everyone rides a bike). You walk against the wind and hit the streets for the 3 hours of daylight you’ve managed to nab since getting out of the house before 12 isn’t a realistic option when there’s a sad pug and wi-fi and British television and homemade bread with raspberry jam.
Everyone is tall, but you knew that, and dressed in dark high-quality wool, blond on blond on blond. They’re hotter than you in a distinctly Danish way which maybe also makes you hot to them in a distinctly not-Danish way.
Tinder hasn’t gotten weird in this country yet.
There’s a 7/11 on most corners and that’s comforting. The wind carries you through frozen parks and slick plazas and you keep stepping into the bike lane but they’re too polite to hit you. You eat open-faced sandwiches with the friendliest of friends of a friend from New York and drink the Christiania beer from the north and ask to pay with card for a hot dog at 7/11 and the teenaged clerk speaks better English than you.
You were told it was expensive here but next to Oslo this place is on sale.
You walk through a deep dark hole into the free town commune of Christiania where suddenly you feel like you’re at burning man, but with fewer yuppies. There’s no electricity in the streets but for a blazing flood light to watch for cops. Past trashcan fires and dreads and no photo signs you drink more of that beer and manage to buy a joint of pure skunk at a kiosk covered in that military camouflage webbing. You’re not sure if it’s a successful transaction or not but now you have a joint and he has money and they’re selling chocolate cake at the kiosk next door because these are goddamn businessmen. The bar you’re brought to is pastel and full of colored streamers and reggaeton and everyone dances badly, enthusiastically.
You go across the river and meet up with some Faroese at a bar listening to Nick Cave as if he knew you were coming. The Negronis are strong the punch is stronger. The joint is passed around and it wrecks you and suddenly you can see through time.
The next day you don’t make it to the sunlight but you have muesli and the sad pug doesn’t want you to go. This country won’t keep you but you contemplate missing your flight and calling the Faroese but you have to teach 1st grade PE in the morning and no one else is going to sing the “hokey pokey” with the correct lyrics, the children would be devastated (especially Guillermo).
The airport has chocolate and wi-fi, and that’s some consolation.
You put on 6 layers of many shades of black, hug the pug, and start out for home into the frozen wet darkness of 3:58 pm.
And for the music portion:
I left my heart in London 10 years ago and I haven’t tried to get it back. I’ve been there so many times between then and now I could practically naturalize myself, but immigration law doesn’t work that way. I have unattainable loves there who I yearn for but never want to end up with; they aren’t the kind you’d want to keep even if you could, and you can’t. I have grand visions of fantastic life and vibrant joy and whiskey sex and parties and black poetry. I’ve lived it in small spurts always peppered in between long blocks of confused idolatry of inconsistent men and jobs of small responsibility and even smaller consequence.
I’ve drunk a lot of bad gin waiting.
Now I’m back in Madrid. The fantasy is intact if not increasingly delicate. For now I can afford to feed myself and buy the next round, and that’s its own victory.