So much has happened the last few months. I would have written a blog earlier, if I would have been sure that it’s interesting. Maybe it was. I guess it depends on why you’re reading this, why you’re following us. Is it for the travelling stories or to come along with me inside my head?
Travelling wise not much exciting has happened, I can tell you that. In the first week of August we arrived in The Netherlands, thinking we’d stay there for a month – maybe a bit longer, depending on how much we’d enjoy it. But there was one important side note: it wasn’t supposed to be like ‘we were home again’.
No home anymore
First of all: we don’t have a home like that anymore, not in The Netherlands and not anywhere else. Second: we weren’t ‘returning’, just stopping by to say hello to family and friends and have some things arranged, like renewing our passports and giving Chewie the proper attention she deserved. Third: even though I was really looking forward to be in The Netherlands again (and eat frikandellen, pindakaas and haring), by the time we crossed the Dutch border we totally looked forward to venturing into other, new countries again. Maybe it was the bad traffic and the grumpy people or maybe it was the pleasant familiarity turning into that same ol’, same ol’ before we knew it.
To be ‘back’ again (I must emphasize the strangeness of the whole thing, because since we didn’t have our own place anymore, everything was different and so: can you then be really back? Or is it just another adventure in a new shape?) consisted of a thousand feelings. I may very well have not even taken all of them into account yet.
Easy on the updates
I already expected I needed some room, so we didn’t let anyone know the exact moment we were to arrive. We drove right into Amsterdam and made ourselves comfortable on one of the campsites there, located in the far east of the city. Since we’d lived in the far west the area was quite new to me. I felt like a tourist. Especially since the campsite was fully booked and we’d made no reservations, so we had to beg to stay a couple of nights on an emergency spot. Begging to be able to be home. Luckily everyone else on the campsite wasn’t even Dutch, let alone familiar with the city, so that encouraged me to classify myself like a local again.
Being in my own city again raised some questions concerning my identity. Can I still call it ‘my city’? Am I an Amsterdammer still? You should know that people from Amsterdam are really proud to be living there. They’re right, because it’s a great place, but it’s also an important thing to be having. Surely they deserve it, paying that much for (small) housing and going through the never-ending bustle. So where does that leave me? Can I still consider this place my sort-of home? Where do I belong now?
Busy city lives
I am blessed to me surrounded by people who understood I needed to land. Bit by bit I let them know I was there, arranging when we could perhaps meet. Nothing too planned, just letting things happen. It was difficult because even though it became my own indispensable modus operandi, I noticed how almost everyone else, at least those living in the city and having busy schedules accordingly, think about their lives as a string of routines and rendezvous’. But I trusted in the fact that I would get to see the people I needed to see and the others, well, I can’t have it all.
That is a tough lesson to learn by the way, especially when you’re surrounded by basically everything you can think of, being in a big city again. I am not one for ‘fear of missing out’, and even when I lived in Amsterdam, I could easily stay at home and not go to all these things I could go to (and would enjoy). Still, in hindsight I now notice how hard it’s been to find peace and quiet within and discover what I really wanted, when the world around me was revolving so fast.
Somewhat the same goes for staying with family. To be sleeping underneath the same roof is very special when you haven’t seen them for such a long time. To be sharing meals, bathrooms and privacy. The fact that it felt so precious made it all the more intense. Quickly we realized we shouldn’t get caught up in these moments for too long, because it was as if we were leading their lives and not our own. For a little while that’s very comfortable because you needn’t worry about anything, but soon there’s this restless feeling creeping up on you: because didn’t you choose this boho life just because you wanted to have the freedom to live the life you yourself envisaged instead of following others’ footsteps?
Everything and everyone is magic
This made it all the clearer it’s about balance: not too much of the one thing and not too much of the other. After having been in Amsterdam I totally longed for nature, so that’s where we went: to the seaside – at Castricum aan zee. By then the bad news had already hit us: the minor repair of Chewie that we’d expected had turned into her needing a new engine – or her own revised. It was by the sea that you guys let us know you wanted to help us by transferring some money and since there were so many of you, we decided to open up a crowdfund page. What happened next made be believe the parking lot where we camped was a magical place. Or maybe this world is just very magical – but probably all too often we don’t even try noticing that because we’re so busy. Or maybe we, ourselves, are made out of pure and unrefined magic and we can do so much more than we think.
We received so much support from you guys that after a week we decided to close the page, because we had gathered enough money so that we could actually borrow the remainder and have Chewie repaired within only a few weeks’ time instead of something like half a year. The only thing we needed to do was hold on until she could go there, so that’s what we did. We laid low and tried to spend as little as possible. We also drove as little as possible, because by then we couldn’t go ten kilometers without severe overheating. Maybe I would have felt more stuck if I wouldn’t have experienced such a great amount of love from people whom I, in most cases, don’t even know in real life. Thank you for that. It was a true lesson in receiving (I’m not good at that) and in taking it as it comes.
Of course the overhaul took longer than expected. That’s what you get with these old beasts with minds of their own. I totally understand. Have I already told you I’m only one year younger than Chewie?
But here we are: somewhere in between green hills in the very northern part of France looking out over the Channel and the white cliffs of Dover, with our Chewie driving like never before. At least not in the last twenty-five years or so. We’re on our way again and as soon as we hit the road, it felt like home. And I remember what I’ve been learning this past year and why I should try to never despair over that question again: home is where I am.
A bit of an anticlimax: we need to go back, still. Back to the workshop where Chewie got fixed, that is. We have to drive about a thousand kilometers and then have her checked, before we can really take off. Instead of starting the next part of our adventure somewhere mid to end September, we will now leave in the second week of November. No idea how it’s going to go from there or how cold it’s going to be before we get somewhere not so cold, we’ll see. If there’s anything the past months have taught me, is that things will always turn out alright.