I drove down into Oakland yesterday, and then through the tube to the island of Alameda, where Clint Eastwood used to live before his movie career took off. Downtown Oakland is such a spacious airy place, especially down near Chinatown, the prison and the court-house. I've gone down there for jury duty many times. The sense of flatness and nearness of water, openess of sky and abundance of small clusters of clouds increases in Alameda, 'the marsh,' and I am aware that this landscape is not unlike that of Denmark.
I visited Denmark after graduating from high school - a long time ago! - but it's all still pretty fresh in my mind. I've been thinking so much lately about my danish relatives, especially my father, and my cousin Kirsten who lived with us for a few years before she got married. They were such positive, upbeat people. They say 'the melancholy dane,' and there's certainly some truth to that - as there is for all people - but as a culture, they seem to cultivate an easy-going, good-humored, basically positive approach to life.
As an American I've taken a lot of razzing about being low-key, sort of 'neutral,' gently good-humored. I actually thought there was something wrong with me, but now I realize the truth: I'm Danish. My father was one of those Scandinavians who wanted to assimilate, to be 'American,' but in reality, he was always Danish, and I picked it up from him. Rediscovering my Danish roots is turning out to be very helpful, very illuminating, and you may be reading more about it here in these pages.
I enjoyed my drive into Oakland and Alameda yesterday. It made me feel at home - as if I were in Denmark. Small is beautiful. Low (in contrast to high) architecture, even downtown. Wind and water, flat stretches of light. Yes.