I woke up the other day in a panic, thinking, where am I?
Draped in a blanket that smelled of my apartment in The Hague, I slept on a couch in a sparsely furnished living room that felt unfamiliar. Since my mind and vision were blurred by flu symptoms and various types of exhaustion, it took me a second or two to make sense of old and new.
It’s yet another beginning.
A few months ago, I considered this move, concluding I wasn’t meant to live happily ever after in the Netherlands. After nearly eight years, I had fallen out of love. We were meant to go our separate ways – and obviously, I would be the one leaving.
But really, this was an overstatement or misjudgment of my time there. Once I began to put departure plans in motion, I realized I still felt mad love for my former home. I just hadn’t established anything big or important enough to make me stay. With the appropriate hustle, my work could be done from almost any location. I didn’t have a house or any other big financial responsibilities. No kids. No partner. No obligations to be there.
So, it should have been simple. I thought I was falling out of love and nothing was keeping me in the country. Keep it moving, right?
At least, that’s how the celebrated travelers and expats of the world make it seem. Make a decision, make a move, then bask in the glow of that decision to move.
But for the first time in my change-loving, commitment-avoiding, new problem-seeking, quite frankly ridiculous expat life, I felt some hesitation.
Did I just waste my time living there? Was I running from a relatively good thing too quickly? Would it be better or worse where I was going? Did I have the energy to start over and possibly fail again? Couldn’t I just kinda still live in the Netherlands a little bit?
I started to become nostalgic about things I had forgotten to appreciate. Like the incredible, growing community of Amsterdam Black Women that I helped create with dear friends who generally made everything worthwhile. And there was that certain quality of life and enjoyable vibe that came with daily life in the Netherlands, surprisingly even in times of conflict. Plus, I always admired the country’s general appreciation of nature and animals. And all the bike riding, which I sort of hated, but also loved.
Yes, I had plenty of complaints while I was living there, but it wasn’t all bad. And although I knew it was time to move on, I couldn’t help but re-write the struggles and frustrations into fond memories and important lessons. It was something like those feelings that make someone want to reunite with an ex – comfort with the familiar and fear of the next beginning.
This was more about my fear of another beginning.
While I didn’t have anything keeping me in the Netherlands, at least I had established a life and knew what I was doing there. Now, I’d be starting all over in a new country: the United Kingdom, where I’m not even confident crossing the street. I chose the country for love, to be with my partner who I’ve been dating somewhat long distance for about a year. But I needed to establish a whole life for myself there, creating new reasons to stay beyond love.
At times, the plans felt daunting and scary. But they were already decided. Really, they had already begun. The mover was booked to drive my boxes from the Netherlands to the UK, and we were deciding on short and long-term places to live in Bristol – a lovely city I can’t wait to tell you more about.
So, when I woke up the other day in a Bristol living room – my living room in Bristol – I was exhausted from the move and the stress. And I was disoriented like the frightened stranger who lived in my home.
But I started to remember my surroundings and circumstances after glancing at my old boxes scattered around the room. I actually moved to this new place in real life. And I left a whole lot behind. But I’m definitely going to make sure it’s worth it.
In the meantime, through the sometimes scary adjustments and changes, thank goodness for naps in cozy, familiar blankets.