When I’m writing this, I still have 25 days to go before I have to go back to the Netherlands. The reverse countdown has begun. Walk another trail about 20+ times. Four more times up and down being an Uber driver to the airport. And pack my suitcase 1 more time before leaving. One of my favorite Sugarland songs is playing in the background; Baby girl. “It’s a long way from here. To the place where the home fires burn. It’s two thousand miles and one left turn.”
When I arrived here about five months ago, I never expected this kind of adventure, I experienced in recent months. I stepped out of my safe bubble and threw all my routines aside to start all over again on the other side of the world.
“Dear Mom and Dad, Please send money, I’m so broke that it ain’t funny. I don’t need much just enough to get me through.”
From living alone for twenty years to suddenly having two roommates. From a townhouse on the corner of the street with 4 bedrooms to a tiny two-bedroom apartment. From doing everything on autopilot to having to think about almost everything.
How hard can it be, I thought positively when I left. We have become so Americanized in the Netherlands that there will not be much difference anymore. I was so wrong about that being right was not even a close call anymore because it was all so different from home and I had to figure everything out on my own. From ‘what is the best butter’ to ‘where the hell can I find a stamp and where is a letterbox’.
Because my superpower is ‘getting lost’, I also had to use Google maps everywhere. You would think that if you drive to the supermarket three times, you would know how to get there a fourth time. Perhaps in the Netherlands, because the streets and houses are unique there. But here in America, everything looks the same. Whether you’re in a mall in Portland or a mall in Phoenix, it’s exactly the same.
Of course, they drive on the right of the road but still, all the signs and traffic rules are different, so again the autopilot switched off and I have to think every mile I drove.
A wise lesson that I also learned the hard way, is that if all the cars suddenly stop or drive very slowly, a deer jumps around along the road. He looked at me, I looked at him and we were both shocked. Fortunately, we both escaped unharmed. Lesson learned.
Of course, I was also here to network with what I did so enthusiastically. It was going great, they loved me, and they loved my work until it came to that specific moment we talked money and I saw their faces change. What? I wasn’t too expensive, was I? How is this possible?
Fortunately, a helpful fellow entrepreneur gave me some insight information about the entrepreneurial culture here in America. If your prices are too low in their eyes, they will assume that you are a beginner or you do not know what you are doing, so raise those prices. I had to learn to praise myself over the top. Fake it till you make it! I’m the best, the fastest, the funniest, the greatest, there’s no one better than me. Something that doesn’t quite suit me at all, but whether I wanted to or not, I had to make it my own.
The only place where I could breathe and relax was the forest where I walked for miles, uphill, downhill, inhaling, exhaling. The first two months were tough and I often wondered what the hell I was doing here. But then I decided to take matters into my own hands. Driving became easier and easier, I did my shopping on autopilot again and there was room to meet new people and make friends.
On Christmas Eve I was stranded at the Seattle airport but I said hello to 2023 at a Russian party on New Year’s Eve. I met people with whom I could talk wonderfully about human behavior and its psychological background and when Portland showed his weirdness again I received an invitation to a polyamorous relationship. It’s all possible in Portland.
“I know that I’m on my way. I can tell every time I play. And I know it’s worth all the dues I pay”
But then suddenly it is 2023 and the date of departure is getting closer and closer. I feel like not wanting to go home at all. I want to do so much here, see more, and feel more. I haven’t reached my goals yet. For the first time in my life, I am really happy in a place. The panic I had, in the beginning, is now bubbling up again but in reverse. I’m not done here yet. My visa will be valid for the next ten years, so I can easily fly back and forth quite a few times. But boy, I’m going to miss this place.
For now, I still have 24 days to enjoy and make the most of what I have. With a backpack full of emotions, experiences, and memories, I will soon get on a plane to immediately make a plan for part two.
“I still love you more than anything in the world. Love,
your baby girl”