It’s one of those amazing sunny Sundays and the city buzzes with a giddy, almost tangible energy. During my run along the Amstel river to Ouderkerk this morning, past windmills and dodging enthusiastic cyclists and runners, I realised it has been five years since I became a Dutch citizen.
Becoming Dutch was pretty emotional. I’m not usually into the whole labels thing. Aussie, Dutchie, whatevs. But receiving the letter of approval from Queen Beatrix back in 2012 caused a flood of relief and gratitude. Finally, I no longer required a visa or a job or some external factor in order to be here for an indefinite period of time. Being me was enough.
|Amsterdam showing off again.|
I have travelled a lot in the interim. Since discovering surfing and an increasing need to be close to, if not in, nature, time spent in this flat, wet, densely populated country has decreased significantly. The question of where I’ll land has yet to be answered, but as seductive as Amsterdam can be in delicious weather on long days, it will not be here.
Yet this is the place that has borne witness to many of the most important events and decisions in my life. The year I lived on a dairy farm as a 16-year-old exchange student, exploring music festivals, a new language and myself. A return later to work at a Japanese company in Hoofddorp. The longest and most important relationship I’ve had to date. Time at a magic circle law firm in Amsterdam. A professional course to finally qualify as a lawyer and a year-long yoga teacher training in Utrecht. A bunch of therapy and some kickass travel. The formation and deepening of key friendships and the ongoing support of my amazing adopted family, the Ligtharts.
A burnout and an eventual relighting of the flame, which has never burned stronger than it does right now. And right now, five years into my Dutchness, I’m particularly grateful to my incredible friends and family here. And Queen Beatrix. Dank jullie wel.