Sometimes, it feels like everything happens all at once. For example, over the summer there was an eleven day period in which I:
- turned 23,
- became an American citizen,
- incorporated my business,
- launched a website, and
- got my license (took me long enough).
And then there are times when it feels like I’m stuck. It’s been just under two weeks since I came home from college for the last time, and in the past eleven days, the most impressive things I’ve done are (barely) survive a few sessions with a personal trainer, and keep my room clean for a little over two hours. And it’s only “clean” if you don’t look in my closet.
Normally, some down time wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m supposed to be moving to the Netherlands this month. Nothing is packed, Ken and I still don’t have a sofa, and after getting a quote for the cost of shipping eight boxes to Holland by boat (the answer is $1600 and your firstborn child), I’ve spent the last few days dramatically saying goodbye to the luxury of books and craft supplies (which, as you know, do not exist in Europe).
I’m buffering, if you will, between two stages of life. I should probably be looking forward, by packing and planning what needs to be done. Instead, in these last few weeks at home, I feel a little stuck where I am, and I’m looking back. My upcoming move is bringing up some parallels to when I started this blog.
Five years ago in February of 2012, I was supposed to be packing for a three-month stay in Leiden, the very city to which I’ll be moving again this month. With twenty hours to go before my flight, I had two empty suitcases to pack and instead decided to start a blog (because, why face reality when you can write about it?). By the time my flight came around, I had written my first two blog posts, and had managed to fit 14 books and 11 notebooks into my suitcases, along with all my clothes.
At the time, I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side of the ocean. I know that I expected to go to Ireland and to finish my novel, neither of which happened. I know that I didn’t expect to fall in love, or find a home away from home, both of which I did. And I know that all of the time I spent worrying that it wouldn’t turn out okay was completely wasted; those three months were some of the best of my life.
Now, five years later, I’m about to go back, to live in the same city that I first explored then. Things are different now: five years ago, I was a high school graduate with no idea where I’d go to college or who I wanted to be; I was single, and planned on being single for the next several years (ha); and I was leaving one home for another, to go stay with my aunt and uncle. Now, I’ve graduated from Wellesley, have spent the last several years in love with someone I met on that first trip, and am leaving this home to create a new home with him. I’m older, a little wiser, and probably better-versed in healthcare statistics and 15th century Dutch art (thanks, Wellesley).
Just like five years ago, I’m terrified. What if I hate it? What if, even when living with Ken, I’m lonely? What if all the things I worked up in my head are just make-believe, and all I want to do is go back? And just like five years ago, I’m excited and hopeful. Maybe it will be fun, and maybe it will challenge me, and maybe, like last time, it will be different and better than anything I now imagine.
Five years ago, in my first blog post in the Netherlands, 18-year-old me wrote,
“When you’re up in the air watching it all fall away beneath you, it strikes you that the world is so much more vast and beautiful than you ever gave it credit for. And it’s all before me, waiting to be seen, explored, and experienced.”
That’s still true for me today. I was as afraid then as I was excited, but there was no need to be. It all turned out okay in the end. I know it will, this time, too.