The super duper thing about having a blog is that I can refer people here when something comes up that I’ve already addressed. Usually the inquiry or comment is benign, about food. But sometimes it’s not, and patience for repetition I have not. Believe me, me sending you a link instead of giving you a personalized response, in these cases, is better for everyone involved.
1. The question: The thinly veiled string of inquiry that’s really asking, “What could Amsterdam possibly provide you that Americuh can’t?” It invariably comes up at family gatherings and leads to me getting all defensive and flustered in response to an unfortunate recipe of closed ears, open mouth, and condescending smirks.
My answer: A lot of things, but that’s not the point. No one makes you defend why you live where you do, and as long as we’re all happy, alles is goed, right? Now if you’re truly asking what I love about living in Holland, that’s an entirely different discussion and one that I’d be thrilled to have, and have already publicly had.
2. The question: Anything getting at, “When are you guys moving home?” I include all inquiries, both casual and formal. Both types are almost always paired with misty eyes.
My answer: I get it. You want us to come back. The problem is, it comes up SO OFTEN BY EVERYONE ALWAYS, and we have no more of an idea than you do. My official response is it could be ten months or ten years. There’s just no way to plan this kind of thing; it’s one of the downsides of signing up for this version of reality. Contracts come and go, other opportunities come up, things change. Expat-dom is intrinsically transient. You can continue to ask this question every few months, but I’m pretty done answering it. I’ll send you here, gently.
3. The comment: “You look tired.” <<insert pitiful gaze>>
My answer: Really? REALLY? I just figured that once someone has children, this question stops being asked, that a YES answer is inherent. I don’t particularly care to chat about my nights unless you’re currently going through or have recently gone through a similar hell. I’m just too tired to talk about it. And, most importantly, don’t connect exhaustion to anyone’s appearance, ever. Ever ever. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at putting myself together, however unbathed I might be, and some days, it’s the only thing I have to hold onto. An exhausted mama is on a short fuse already; you should be adding water, not fuel of any sort, to this particular kind of she-fire.
Jess out. xxx+o