There is strangeness in moving to another country: the small things, the unexpected things, and the things you thought would interrupt you, but really seem alright once you’re there. It’s with those thoughts guiding me that I find our life beginning in the Netherlands.
I had dozens of expectations, fears, and especially the things I put ‘on the backburner’, as it were. Already I’ve had people here ask, “what’s your favourite thing?”, “how do you feel about living here?”, and, perhaps most aptly, “what do you miss?” Mostly in those questions, I have stuttered or incomplete responses because, honestly, even though I’ve experienced the change (and perhaps upheaval) I also feel a disconnect to the moment-by-moment. No, not disconnect. Reconnect. It’s an acceptance of inevitability. Sure.
It’s like the almost future I’d hoped for, to send me skyrocketing out of myself. (Originally, I thought I’d be going to Hogwarts. Hence, almost what I expected.)
I now feel that I must have always felt we were meant to be here. Or, okay, somewhere. Everywhere is somewhere. I’m not saying everyone needs to live here. In fact, please don’t. There’s simply not enough room.
I feel the loss of moving, of course. The loss of friends, and weeknight activities and meetups. I feel the loss of being gone while my nephews learn to crawl, while my niece learns to count, and while my soon-to-be niece or nephew works on his or her arrival. But people live on. Ian and I will wake up and work and live and sleep and do it all again. Why do we all show our best faces and our best days? And stew in envy, doubt, love, and joy.
I feel set aside, almost, but that doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Perhaps it’s the strangeness of my personality, or a ‘writer’s soul’ as I’d like to say, but I must constantly check my worth against my imagined self. In doing this, yes, I feel set aside. I’m under a microscope, to be analysed by my own critical eye. It’s disappointing to feel that about yourself. You set the bar—you never measure up to it. But honestly, why? Legacy, wealth, bragging, success… I digress.
Maybe it’s the rain, or the cloudy skies (I love the rain), or the clacking boot heels on cobblestone, not pavement. Maybe it’s the click click click of rusted old bicycle wheels, or the occasional echoing honk of a distant car. Maybe it’s what I’ve been working up to since I was thirteen, and I decided I was going to write books about magical chickens and evil librarians. Maybe I started fighting for it when I was told often enough how weird I was. Am. Yes, I am weird. Or, sure: quirky.
Corrections, adjustments, and flippant regressions.
It doesn’t matter if I think I’ll leave the apartment today. I still look at my phone, open the app labeled ‘Buienradar’. It tells me when it’s going rain, and how much rain to expect. It’s usually correct, almost to the minute. And I look at it, every day. Rain today? Of course. How much?
It’s really okay. I think I like it here, even if they don’t have maple syrup. Melancholy. Ah, yes, that old dream. Canals, greenery, red brick and white paint. I regret the distant smells of black licorice on fateful breezes, and miss the callous, dry winds across familiar prairie skies, carrying with them the smell of manure and childhood reminiscence.
I can accept the discomfort of change.