Monday, April 1, 2013

Five years later...

A friend recently told me that every expat goes through the same cycle in regards to their new home. First is the honeymoon phase. Second comes the major dip where everything is awful. And finally a plateau is reached - a love/hate relationship of the location, but it’s home. 

As he mentioned it, I looked back on my 5 years in Amsterdam and wondered who had been spying on me to come to that conclusion since it couldn’t have rung more true. 

During my first two years in the country, everything was beautiful. Everything. I even chalked up the bitter winters to experience. I returned home after a trip away as equally happy to be back as I had been on holiday. 

The following year and a half, though... those were the hardest. Prior to living in the Netherlands, I had moved (at the maximum) every two years since 1998. My body was used to it. Craved it even. 

I remember coming home from a Doner Kebab shop in a mild panic attack after the attendant became the third person in a week to tell me he only had the intention of living in Amsterdam for 3-5 years when he arrived a decade prior. While sitting down to eat my kebab I replayed their stories in my head until I had difficulties breathing. I could NOT let that happen to me. 

Seasonal affective disorder also hit me hard at that point. I was no longer giving winters a quick sidewards glance. Then again, winters weren’t giving me any consideration either. Nor were the summers by then. My eyes glazed over when newly arrived friends would point out the beauties of Amsterdam. 

I was ready to move. 

Thankfully I didn’t. Thankfully I stayed long enough for my feelings to level off. I reached a point of content that I never thought I’d achieve during my down years.  More than any other place I've lived, I consider Amsterdam my home - amidst the good and the bad. 

As easy as it would have been at this point to stay though, I would not -I could not- allow myself to be an increasing statistic. My vagabond blood, the intrinsic wanderer inside me, the very core of my being stood firmly against it.

Which only lead to this solid conclusion: in the end all the plateau did was make it that much harder for me to leave.

No comments: