Out of (Car) Body Experience

I am feeling very un-expat-like today. (Maybe that’s non-expatish, or in-expatable. Whatever.)

It took me a little while to sift through my vague feelings of unease to figure it out.

No surprise there, since yesterday was Day Two of Centraal Station: Redux. It was every bit as noisy and full of commotion, with the workers and the landlord coming and going, all day long. (Yes, the scheduled half-day of work stretched into a full day.)

But I’d rather not think about that right now. The work done looks good, and slowly some semblance of peace is settling on our home. Son, feeling much better, is back at school.

All is (generally) right with my little world. Or is it?

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something was off, and it was making me feel off.

I pondered the situation as I was driving Daughter home late last night from her voetbal practice. It’s a good half hour drive each way without traffic, which is fortunately the case most evenings. (Yes ,there are closer Dutch clubs, but we were looking for a progressive one with a competitive program for elite female players.)

As I turned onto our quiet little street, it hit me. I was driving too much. More than I had driven in weeks, months. Rather than my usual 3 or 4 times a week (3 related to Daughter’s voetbal and usually once a week for something else), I’d been driving every day. And not just once a day, but heading out to 2 or 3 different appointments.

I was beginning to feel, well, American again. I was driving far more than I wanted to, spending far too much time in transit, scurrying hither and yon. (Don’t even get me started on rising fuel costs.)

And the truth is, I didn’t like it.

Over the almost two years we’ve been here in the Netherlands, I’ve come to embrace the opportunity to use public transportation (usually tram, sometimes bus or train) to get around. It’s fast and economical, and gets you where you want to be, generally without any difficulty.

I enjoy walking the two or four blocks to do the shopping and run errands. Sometimes daily, sometimes every other day. It makes me feel connected – to my neighborhood, my little corner of the world.

So having to revert back to old patterns was a bit jarring.

Now I know that every expat experience is different. While I enjoy not having to drive as much, others must drive to do anything and everything. Some don’t bother with a car because of terrible congestion. Others don’t drive because there may be little to drive to. That’s true for expats across town or across the world.

All I can say is for Yours Truly, I was content with my new way of life. And I didn’t like the mind-shift brought on by having to drive significantly more. I missed the simplicity.

So what’s on tap this weekend? Perhaps a chance to stay home and enjoy a little peace and quiet?

Not a chance. I’m leaving shortly for Antwerp, we’re going to watch Daughter’s team compete in their end-of-season school basketball tournament.

And yes, I’ll be driving. A lot. Sigh…


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