What this is about.

This was going to be a post about how, after nearly four years living abroad, my husband and I made the decision to return to the United States. That was in October.

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Ok, so we got a little bit of sun…

Then, in November, this was going to be about our last European adventure: our holiday to Spain and our unsuccessful search for the sun on the famed Costa del Sol.

In December, this was going to be a post about the start of our transition, of spending the Christmas holidays in Boston and getting used to the idea of our return.

By January, this was going to be about farewells, and packing, and reflecting on what we would miss. Oh, and checking things off our Amsterdam Bucket List.

Come February, I could have written about unpacking, readjusting to our house and neighborhood, reconnecting with friends, and rediscovering Boston.

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First time at the Massachusetts State House

March would have brought some variety and excitement. In the middle of our job searches, we took a vacation from this “vacation” and made a quick trip to London and Amsterdam.

And here it is, suddenly, unbelievably, April, and I haven’t told you about any of those things, really.

In the throes of so much change, thinking about this transition–to say nothing of writing about it–has felt like a luxury. Or maybe it’s just hard to reflect on something while you’re still in it. I’ll just say that there is much that is good about being back in Boston. But there is also much I miss about Amsterdam and the life we built there. To borrow a metaphor, I’m in the hallway. We closed one door behind us (for now), and the next door hasn’t opened yet. So I’m hanging out in the hallway, looking for the door, turning knobs, and trying not to let the search distract me from whatever fun and beauty might be lurking in this liminal space.

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Moving house

Where the hell did all of this stuff come from?

In early March of last year, I moved out of my temporary apartment to a lovely 2-bedroom with a view of the Uilenburgergracht, close to the Amstel River and the city center. Friends arrived with their station wagon to help me move. They were surprised to see how little I had: one large suitcase, a duffel bag, a carry-on and a shopping bag filled with groceries. In truth, I could have moved in a taxi. Or a bakfiets.

One year later, and wow, have things changed. If those same friends were to help, we’d need several trips in their station wagon. Even though we are moving from one furnished apartment to another furnished apartment, we have so much stuff. We have been careful all year about what we bought, knowing that anything we acquire will eventually either need to make the trip back to the US, or be sold/given away/thrown out. And still, somehow, I’m sitting in my soon-to-be-former kitchen, looking around at boxes filled with pans, cookie sheets, hand mixers. And downstairs I still have clothes to pack, and toiletries, and all those little things that seems to sneak, uninvited, into your home when you’re not looking.

But. It will all be fine. We have time, and we’ll have help. With any luck we’ll finish the packing early and we’ll be able to enjoy a cold but sunny weekend, and take a last wander around our neighborhood. We’ll probably have dinner at the Asian tapas-style restaurant around the corner, where the waiters know us and our orders by heart. Maybe I’ll finally visit the Rembrandt Huis, which is exactly 350 meters away from where I sit, and still I’ve never been.

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Haven’t made it to the ballet or the opera either…yet

We’ll be moving further outside of the city center, but as I keep reminding myself, Amsterdam is so small; nothing is too far from anything else. It will be fun to explore and learn a new part of the city, and especially one that is less crowded with students and tourists.

I will miss the morning light on the canal, the red chair in the corner, and the heated floors in the bathroom. I’ll miss coming home to see the sunset over the Portuguese Synagogue.  And I’ll miss walking over the Blauwbrug on a quiet Sunday morning, while the tourists are still asleep, to get Nutella or banana muffins from our local bakery.

I will not miss the induction stove top, the strange smell of this apartment, the never-seen child who lives above us, or the intersection outside our building, rated one of the most dangerous for cyclists. (Not because of cars or traffic, but because of the cyclists themselves, of course.) Nor will I miss the constant flow of hop-on, hop-off boats at the diamond factory across the canal, the first of which just appeared as I write this.

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The soon-to-be old view…

A Dutch friend at work – who has lived for years with her family in the East neighborhood of Amsterdam – remarked that she would love the chance to move to a different part of the city every year. Her enthusiasm was mostly about finding new places to eat and have coffee, but I think she’s right. Living in one place gives you one view – of a city, of its people, of how they live, and how you live among them. But when you change your view, other changes follow.

So, next post from new address. And yes, if you’re wondering, it has a guest room.