November One

I posted too soon. Yesterday I wrote about how it was beginning to look a bit like Christmas, and then today I went out and all the Delft canal lights and decorations had appeared in full force.

And the true sign of the times is that behind the Oude Kerk, the Oliebollen man has taken up his seasonal residence. For the next two months, riding past the church is officially a fried-dough-temptation hazard. Oliebollen literally means “oil balls” but don’t be thrown: it’s basically fresh donut or funnel-cake in spherical form with powdered sugar heaped on it. I had my first oliebol of the season in Gouda a week or so ago. Delicious!

It always catches me off-guard to see the numeral 1 on my iCal icon. But this month is especially exciting, because in November we will be traveling to an exotic location known as… the United States of America.

At the station the day we arrived in Delft to live here. Ask me how I really feel about all the luggage....

We moved to the Netherlands sixteen months ago, and in that time I have been in ten countries*. None of them has been the US.

I haven’t been desperate to go back, so I don’t know what I expect. (Don’t take that the wrong way if I am related to you or am your friend—we miss people plenty. But that’s separate from missing the place, specifically.) Maybe it will just feel normal, as driving into New Jersey always did when I’d return home from Boston or Pennsylvania. Maybe I’ll feel like I’m reconnecting with my roots. Maybe I’ll feel out of place. Maybe people will tell me my English has gotten worse. Maybe I’ll spend half the time gaping at strangers because I understand what they’re saying. Maybe I’ll have forgotten how to drive a car.

The duration of our trip (11 days) seemed long enough when we booked it, but divide that by two families and throw in a half-marathon, and you’ve got a busy trip. We have some serious catching up to do. We have card games to play. We have a whole niece we’ve never even met, and I can’t wait to hold her and rub her fuzzy baby head. Besides spending time with loved ones, we intend to—yes—boost the American economy with some Euros. I’m coming for you, completely unimportant household items like large ZipLoc bags and familiar face-wash and baking chocolate and EmergenC. And shoes priced in dollars.

But trivial purchases and meaningful holidays and turkey with stuffing aside, I guess what I’m wondering is: Will it feel any different to go home?

On one hand I think it has to, because I’ve changed in the past year+. I’ve had more new experiences in that time than I’ve probably had since I was learning to walk and eat pasta. New work and new people and new places and new ideas. On the other hand I think, home is home because it always feels the same. Nothing has changed that much.

Either way: We’ll be dragging out the suitcases soon. I love to pack early because it kind of makes the trip-excitement stretch longer.

*Netherlands. Belgium. United Kingdom. France. Austria. Italy. Croatia. Montenegro. Serbia. Spain.

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