April 18, 2011

Ten years

Last Friday, the 15th of April it was the 10th anniversary of my emigration to The Netherlands. A good moment to pause and take stock of all that's happened in these years. It's been a decade of highs and lows, of sorrow but also of immense joy.

Some events of my last two weeks on Curacao are engraved in my mind and heart. I visited my most beloved places and took the sights in, recording the views, the smells and the people in my heart. This is the Curacao I will always remember.  I fondly remember all my friends who were with me till the end and even where present at the airport amidst my family. Your friends are the family that you choose.
I also remember panicking at the last moment because I needed a new a pair of shoes. The last frantic trip home, making sure that I wasn't late. And the family-friend who insisted to drive me to Hato (airport.) Neither, will I forget a certain person who left work early on my last day on the job, just so he wouldn't have to say good-bye. The reason will always be between him and his god.

I arrived in The Netherlands, with a bag full of illusions and a heart full of hope. Once here, I got a lot of love and support from friends and family here. Within six weeks I had a job, too bad it didn't work out. Within two weeks of quitting that one, I landed the job I still have. After five months of searching, I found an apartment to call my home. Within a couple of years, it was too small and I just needed a bigger one. I had to prove to myself and everyone, at all costs, that coming here was a good choice.

Remember the new shoes? Talk about a bad decision, wearing new shoes on a transcontinental flight. Or wearing those same shoes while beating the streets looking for a job. Major blisters and pain were my reward!

These past ten years, I recognized a lot of my illusions for what they were. I've seen people at their best and I've seen people at their worst. The latter being at the moment I could most use a helping hand, shoulder or ear. Many friends turned acquaintances or even strangers, sometimes all due to me. On the other hand, some strangers turned out to be awesome friends.

Some family members passed away, some were added to the family. I even found new members of my extended family. The one family member I'm really grateful I 'found' is my younger brother. It sure was worth it to, to put childish ways behind us1.

Sometimes, I wonder if migrating was such a good idea at all. I think I will let history be the judge of that. I do know that I was working myself to the ground back then. How many years of working 50 to 60 hours a week can one take? I still make 18-20 hour days, but with much more time for myself interspersed. I went from working 50-60 hrs a week to 36 hour weeks. This must be much healthier.

I had the chance to travel and see places I've never been before. Discovered new hobbies and interests. I remember celebrating NYE in Paris, amidst loads of strangers from all over the world and enjoying it.  This past NYE, saw me in one of my darkest periods and even here a friend stretched out his hand and practically forced me to enjoy myself. I even got to try ice-skating for the first time and didn't fall.

Not all decisions I made in the past decade were the best or the most intelligent, but they were mine. Let us not forget that every single step we took, every decision we made shaped us into the person we are. If nothing else, I learned a couple of lessons of it all and will learn more in the future. That is not to say that life didn't throw a spanner in the works. After falling into the same trap as before, I've been forced to reconsider my life and priorities. I just hope to be a better person at the end of it all.

I made a new home here in The Netherlands, for better or worse. They say we never forget our first love and it's true, I will never forget my "Dushi Kòrsou."

April 11, 2011

Spring Jitters (Lentekriebels)

Isn't Spring a marvelous thing?
Land-hugging fog in the morning
The sun rises earlier every day
The birds are singing, hurray!

Ducklings in the ponds
Green leaves on the fronds
Nature is in bloom
Gone is the gloom

Coldness cowers
Colourful flowers
Pollen in the air


April 6, 2011

Old fashioned?

Last night I was invited for a walk along the beach, followed by drinks in at the bar in a nice hotel. A nice and old fashioned romantic date. Only, it wasn't a date, just two friends spending time together. But, that's not the topic of this blog.
I grew up in a time and society where, as a male, you observed a certain decorum towards the female of the species. Little things like holding doors open, standing up when greeting a lady etc. I understand that not all these niceties are practical in all situations, but still. 
Try to picture the following: Boy and girl go out for dinner at a (not so cheap) restaurant. Body language screams "We're a couple." Boy walks ahead of her to their table and sits down, girl arrives at table and sits down. Nothing wrong with that you'd say? 
To me it's rude. In my eyes, he should have guided her to their table, check which seat she wanted and maybe even hold it out for her before sitting. To me this is all common courtesy, like giving up your seat to pregnant ladies or the elderly on public transport. 
Now you'll tell me it was a one off and the guy was just rude, well think again. Not 10 minutes later, a second couple arrives and nearly the same thing happened. In the last case, the Maître half-heartedly held out the chair for her.
I commented this to my friend and he found it quite normal. My friend and the two guys belong to roughly the same demographic group ( mid-twenties, males and Caucasian), the only difference is that he's a friend of Dorothy
These scenes left me questioning myself and society as a whole. 
a) Am I just old-fashioned
b) Did the equal rights movement kill chivalry?
c) Are we turning into an egoistic and egocentric society?
d) All of the above
e) It was just a fluke?

I secretly hope for e.

April 3, 2011

Life begins at forty, a retrospective

As the magical date approaches, I start thinking about the truthfulness of this adage. The more I think about it, the more I believe it to be a fallacy.

If life really begins at forty, that would mean that all my life so fas has been inconsequential. To even contemplate this, depresses me much more than the simple act of turning 39+1. It would mean that anything I've gone through all these years is nothing compared with what has yet to come. Talk about scary.

By no means am I saying that my life has been inherently harder than anyone else's. I'm not stating that I've had a better life either. All I can say is that it has been *my* life. So far, I've led a life of ups and down. Of love and of hurt, but never of hate. I can honestly say that I never hated anyone, nor did I ever set out to intentionally hurt anyone. While there are some things that I might have done differently, I am not going to apologize for any thought, word, action or even inaction. These are all things that made me into the man I am today. To apologize would mean to negate the lessons I've learned or will be learning. I do acknowledge that some situations could have been handled differently, but that how life is. There is no use crying over spilled milk.

In the last 14607 days, I've met a lot of people who have made an impact on my life. Some more pronounced than others. In some cases, the impact has been like fine mist on blotting paper. Other people have been like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Even so, my thanks goes to all of you. my life would have been so much duller without you.

The next 3655 (and a half) days of my life will be anything but boring. I vow to myself to live my life to the fullest, to seize the day. I will relish in the full range of emotions yet again from the highest of the high, to the lowest of the love, for such is the nature of life.

This coming 7th of April at 11:07 GMT I will celebrate my 40th year alive. And I lived it all *My way*

As a last thought to all who deem it their right to judge me on the life I have lived and the choices I've made, all I want to say is that *I am what I am*

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