One of those days…

{This post contains random unrelated photos from a hike we took this summer, because sick kids and existential questions are not especially photogenic}

It’s been a long one and a tough one. The kids are sick, which is never a good start. Well, actually it’s slightly worse than that. One is sick and sleepy and the other is a fiery bouncy ball of wild toddlerness who can’t understand why I won’t take her to the park… Oh, did I give away which is which?

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Sleep has been scarce for the last week or so, mainly due to a cold featuring yo-yo fevers that go away and spring back at you unexpectedly. You never know when someone is going to wake up dripping with sweat, or suddenly feeling better and hungry for a snack.

Of course, this is always the prime setting for an existential crisis. That and the two-day migraine at the start of last week, before the kids got sick. I think that the basic culture shock is starting to wear off, and now I’m just struggling with where I fit in here. I was adamantly against putting our children in the International School, because I didn’t want our life here to be in a little “expat bubble”. I had lofty ambitions of picking up Dutch effortlessly and quickly and fitting right into the local community.

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I guess I forgot that “fitting right in” has never really been what I do. Anywhere. Ever.* Even my best and tightest knit groups of friends have come together because we were misfits in some way. A bit dreamier, but with varied dreams. A bit too loud about a few of the wrong things, not the same things, but close enough that we could talk about them. Writers, but not in the same genres. Artists or artisans, in different media.

If I’m honest, with myself and with you, there’s really something to be said for the expat community. If only because there’s that shared understanding that our situations are very different but, as the Queens of the Stone Age so eloquently put it, “Sometimes the same is different / But mostly, it’s the same.” The same waves of homesickness, the same confusion, the same uncertainty, the same difference.

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Maybe this relocation isn’t about adapting to my environment. Maybe it’s about creating it. Without the pressure of conforming. Because I have an out, I’m not from here. What would I do, if I didn’t know any better? How would I dress, eat, work, play, live, if I didn’t have cultural expectations ground into me? Where would I be, if I were wild and free?

I’m not from here. Perhaps now is the time to embrace that.

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Love,
Belligerence&Chocolate

*Excepting my own family of origin and the one we’re currently building, but even then, we’re a pretty odd and assorted bunch.

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