Six months of research and planning. Five months of KonMari, otherwise known as the life-changing magic of getting the heaps of shit in my apartment under control. Four months of bucket-list-living my NYC life. Three months of canceling subscriptions and catalogs, getting accounts in order, and shuffling paperwork. Two months of tediously arranging, editing, rearranging, and re-editing my work affairs. One month of goodbyes, going away dinners and brunches, farewell parties, and dissuading myself time and time again from pulling the world’s most tempting Irish Goodbye. Three weeks of destination-hopping my way through North America. And finally…
I’M HERE! In my new home, living in a foreign country. It’s been almost a month, and somehow the time has completely flown by. In New York, I spent hours, days, maybe even weeks dreaming about what I would do when I found myself jobless and living in the Netherlands. I imagined myself waking early for a leisurely breakfast and going to mid-morning Pilates and spin classes at the gym (I’ve always wondered who the hell is able to go to those). I figured I’d spend a big chunk of time planning, shopping, and preparing elaborate meals. And then of course I’d be taking up tennis since I’m now a card-carrying member of a tennis club here in Baarn (and soon-to-be First Lady of Phonosmash – what!what!).
Yet, we all know that ‘dreaming’ is just that. And that real life never quite matches up with what we’ve envisioned, for better or worse. I’ve yet to drag myself out of bed before 8:00 am even once. I keep rationalizing it as recompense for the years I’ve spent rolling out of bed well before the sun comes up. I’ve found that even though I love eating more than pretty much anything else in life, I don’t really enjoy the pressure of being creative in the kitchen. Not to mention, these milliliters and grams and celsius conversions are making my head spin. And I haven’t had even one tennis lesson yet. So, there’s that. I completely underestimated the amount of time and energy it would take to navigate through everyday life in a foreign country. I’ve decided this will be my grace period.
What I have been doing is enjoying the delightfully slow and lovely way of life that the Dutch seem to have mastered. I’ve never had so many tea/coffee/dessert breaks/dates/meetings in all of my life. Every person I’ve come in contact with has been warm, kind, and happy. I’m not exaggerating. Even the government workers at City Hall and the Immigration Office have not only been friendly but have also smiled while helping me find my way. I attribute it to the fact that getting 6 weeks of vacation per year is pretty much par for the Dutch. And they seem to vacation for no less than 2 weeks at a time. I mean, we Americans all know the guilt and shame of asking for the Friday off before a week of vacation. God forbid we want to prep or leave for vacation a bit early. The Dutch also typically get an extra paycheck in May or June called ‘Vakantie Geld’ or ‘Vacation Money.’ Huh? Really?? No wonder everyone is happy right now.
Marco’s friends and family have gone out of their way to make sure I’m settling in as well as possible in my new home. And while it doesn’t quite feel like ‘home’ yet, I know it’s only a matter of time. Ik ben blij!