The End of May

It has been the kind of spring that makes people who don’t normally care about the weather complain on Facebook. The kind of spring where I’ve gotten to use the new “winter” boots I bought on end-of-season sale, and wear the hat that took me too long to knit (until it was eaten by an unleashed dog in a park). Someone told me that the Dutch news reported a whopping increase in the number of holidays Dutch people have booked this year (and if it’s increased, it must be now quite high indeed). We ourselves went a little nuts two months or so back and booked things for May, July, and September. Um, and August, if you count a home trip to the United States. And… I’ll tell you later about June. (I’ve mentioned before that Tim gets 42 days, right?)

IMG 8535

watching the finish at the Leiden Half

The weather’s been so rotten, I’m getting a cold. It might be from standing shivering outside to cheer for Tim at the Leiden Half Marathon this Sunday. But I’m smiling as I order a tea at my favorite (yes… I almost deleted that word but let’s be honest. I’m here nearly every day) cafe. This is because of the incredibly high guilty-pleasure meter on the cafe’s soundtrack of late. I can’t get through “Mag ik een thee” with a straight face, because the guy and I are both really distracted by the urge to belt out Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Last week, the entire room was on the verge of a flashmob to “Beat It.”

I return to my seat only to discover that a very small dog is nosing around my ankles. Dogs are allowed in cafes here, but… it’s not normal for them to be unleashed and roaming. I resist the urge to punt the dog. Living in Holland has not improved my feelings over honden (see hat reference, above). I can’t tell who owns this one, but I want its face out of my workbag.

Despite the heavy clouds, out on Koornmarkt the young guys who run the rondvaart are squeegeeing the boats, optimistic that today’s tourists will come. And they will; it’s hard to cross Delft’s Markt in May without getting tangled in a long line of (generally) senior citizens, following a microphone-d guide holding up a sign with the name of a cruise line or bus company. I myself gave a three-hour tour on Tweede Pinksterdag to a group of art / history students from an American university, who made what had sounded like a ridiculously long assignment actually quite enjoyable.

It’s the end of the school year (ish), and the number of odd things seen out one’s window is higher than normal. More guys in animal suits. More guys in full, rakish-looking (standard) suits. Last night, there was some sort of rowing event going on on the canal, complete with cheering fans on bicycles, with air horns. It was 10PM and the sun was still up.

As the weather continues to be bad (sorry; I know I keep mentioning it, but really, if you were here…), I continue to head for my workouts indoors at a gym. I run on a treadmill that faces the street (not my favorite, to be clear, because you get watched as much as you watch) and watch as Delft goes by. Students go in and out of a bicycle-repair shop. The clientele of the street’s “coffee shop” make their visits. Bicycles dodge cars dodge scooters dodge pedestrians.

It’s just another day, and lately there have been lots of those. Expat life isn’t all “firsts” and epiphanies. It’s just another day, but I’m plagued by the wondering of how many more of those I’ll have. As people who remember our initial plan like to remind us, we said three years when we moved here. Somehow, we are now one month and five days from that mark. Tim’s contract is up this summer—but last month, he renewed it. I sent in the application for my new residence card. This decision was made in part by default: the lack of a concrete opportunity thus far that would take us back to the US, where we have no intention of moving to be unemployed. Some days I feel ready for that next chapter, and other days the current one is a book I hope goes on.

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second BBQ of the year

I don’t know if I’ve said this already, but I know I’ve thought it: the decision to move here was nowhere near as hard as the decision to move back will be.



Filed under Our Dutch Adventure

8 responses to “The End of May

  1. Mathieu

    Great to hear you like it enough to stick around a bit longer! Maybe we’ll actually have a chance to meet up … especially since I’ll be joining the BasicFit tomorrow evening. Just promise not to punt our dog… 🙂

    We also extended our stay several times. First plan was 3-5 years, now we’re at 11. And I took a new job in January, so it will probably be a total of 15 years before we actually make any move …and even then, it will be a struggle to pull ourselves away, I’m sure.

    • unquiettime

      Great! I solemnly promise not to punt your dog. Based on the previous description, it was not the one with its nose in my bag this morning.

  2. I understand how you feel…. This summarizes
    my own feelings perfectly. Some days I wish i could take the next flight home. Other days are just normal ordinary days. But most days I can’t imagine leaving. Kinda like life, I guess… A mix of bad, ordinary and perfection…. Julie

  3. angela

    I understand how you feel….living in another country changes you forever….I read an article recently about the five stages of living abroad….1) honeymoon stage (~0-3 years; time of excitement and intrigue when everything new and different is appreciated) 2) frustration or ‘rage state (~0-3 years; “the frustration stage or rage stage sets in when the cultural differences, the language barriers, the fatigue and other tribulations unnerve you.”) ,’ 3) acclimation Stage (2-….years; “Acclimation stage is all about acceptance – accepting your personal background and accepting life and culture in your new location. “) 4) integration stage (~4-…years) followed by a 5) “Reverse Culture Shock” when returning to your home country….

    I guess I am somehow stuck in phase 4…possibly forever 😉 (I have spent graduate school here (5 years) , doing my Postdoc here (…years) and my hubby and most of my friends are American….plus, after all those years abroad it is becoming tough to keep in touch with friends at home…..). Home sweet home? Where is home? “The decision to move here was nowhere near as hard as the decision to move back will be”…I could not agree more…

    • unquiettime

      Hi Angela– someone told me something similar… that around 4 years you hit a point where going back to your home country will actually be difficult. I remember at the time thinking: well, we won’t be here that long… ! And I know what you mean about keeping up with friends. Sometimes it can feel very odd, not knowing who you are close to or who “understands” where you are at. Postdoc… husband… friends… it sounds like your life has lots of good things in it– I’m glad to hear so.

      • angela

        Yes, what I’ve learned while living abroad….is that “Home is where your loved ones are and where the things that make you exited to wake up in the morning reside.” If that’s the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany or…. does not matter that much! 😉

  4. well said, and yes, its so true what you said there at the end. Weird that it should be so easy to decide to upend your life and move to a place you barely know and have every reason to be afraid of, and that it should be so hard to go to a place we already know and are comfortable with. I guess we humans crave the unknown, the opposite of routine, perhaps even crisis more than we think?

  5. angela

    Yes, what I’ve learned while living abroad….is that “Home is where your loved ones are and where the things that make you exited to wake up in the morning reside.” If that’s the Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany or…. does not matter that much! 😉

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