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."


Zelfstandig journalist Antwerpen said...

Het zal een hele culture shock zijn geweest, van Curacao naar Nederland. Aan de andere kant: de jaren die ik je heb meegemaakt als collega leek je toch ook al verdraaid goed je plaats te hebben gevonden in Nederland!

Anonymous said...

Home is where the heart is, couz. I loved the life I built for myself in Curaçao from 2003-2009. I'm looking fwd to going back someday. One comforting thought is that the island will always be there (unless it sinks) no matter where I live or which arbitrary turn my life may take. I'm looking forward to moving to NL again for a year in 2014 to get my EU certification. Who's to say what may or may not keep me there. In any case the world is my playground and for the time being I'm building sand castles in China. Here's to you and the next 10! Salud! Yat

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