A New Point of View


I changed my point of view recently, and it’s changed my perspective.




You see, I’ve finally moved back to my desk in our guest room.

I’d set up my desk and writing area when we moved into this house two years ago (two years!), but didn’t make good use of it. At first it was because I was too busy unpacking and trying to instill some semblance of order on the place.

Once we could navigate hallways and rooms without bumping into boxes and piles, I was thrown headlong into the morass of negotiating the twists and turns of getting oneself and one’s family connected. Again, literally as well as figuratively.

Acquiring  connectivity for telephone, cable tv and internet is usually not daunting, but add the vagaries of a different country’s rules, procedures and service sector mindset (one of my earliest recollections that we were indeed living in a whole other culture) as well as the challenge of a different language, and it can seem as though you’re playing the child board game ‘Chutes and Ladders’ (aka ‘Snakes and Ladders’ to my British friends). Climbing the ladder rung by rung, only to land on the giant slide sending you back to the beginning.

Procuring cell phones for Son, Daughter and myself was also a must given that their school is twenty minutes away by car, and at least twice that amount of time by public transportion. Complicated and oft-changing schedules required some semblance of communication.

Gaining said cell phones was such a protracted process due to service contracts limited to the country you’re in coupled with the problem of people scamming phone companies (e.g., fraudulently signing a cell phone contract, then absconding with what are significantly higher cost cell phones than we’re used to dealing with in the US), I truly shudder and break out in a cold sweat at the thought of making any change or adjustment to service plans. I don’t CARE if it will bring me into the 21st century, I won’t change a thing and you can’t make me!

Then came orientation to high school and middle school (and the Dutch school of life for me), after-school and other activities taking off at a gallop, coffees to attend and presentations to absorb, all in the name of helping us to get settled and get on with life in a new country.

Soon I was knee-deep in classes and daily homework for my first intensive Dutch course, hurtling toward and through the first year’s holidays, dealing with far less daylight than I’d ever experienced in my life, a second intensive Dutch course, tending to expat transition blues, yada yada yada.

Next thing I recall, it was spring and a fine film of dust coated my desk. Slowly but surely I started using my laptop for more than keeping track of goings-on in the world and keeping in touch with family and old friends. I began to write.

However, since the guest room was in regular use with visiting athletes, annual Model UN participants and the like, I remained mobile. Writing in a favorite chair was eventually curtailed due to proximity to the television: death knell to creativity and productivity if you ever succomb and turn it on during a weekday. So I don’t. Seriously. Never. (Okay, an exception was made for the Royal Wedding this past spring, but that’s it.)

A complicated yet epic trip (in duration, activities, mileage and people seen) back to the US last summer, then returning for a brief respite of remaining summer before the new school year began: this time with two high schoolers. At least the rules and key players in Son’s and Daughter’s education lives were finally the same.

I continued writing, but had moved to the living room couch. Comfortable, relaxing yet close to the kitchen (for another cup of koffie or to let the dog/ cat outside) or to answer the doorbell when the delivery man made his almost weekly drop-off of a package from my neighbor’s latest online purchase. I was writing more than I was internet-surfing (always a good sign), with the ratio improving on a daily basis.

Despite my writing taking a more serious turn, projects taking shape and deadlines to deal with, I stayed downstairs. Productivity wasn’t an issue as I steadily wrote more and varied pieces.

By now I had moved to the dining room table. Something about the light streaming in and the room to spread out reminded me of, oh, I don’t know. Perhaps my desk?? But the parade of visitors and guests kept my writing nook in the guest room just beyond my reach.

Until now.

While taking time to get away recently (don’t forget your Six Rs), I took stock of the situation. Time to up the ante. If I were indeed going to try to crank out a manuscript, I sensed I needed a bit more discipline. I would eliminate certain remaining distractions and increase the amount of uninterrupted time I spend planning, researching and actually writing.

In short, I had to learn to sit down at my (newly dusted) desk and write. It’s been a little struggle to remember to head back upstairs with my morning coffee rather than remain downstairs. I have to plan my breaks and my trips up and down (16 stairs each direction) for lunch or to throw in a load of laundry.

Oli was confused for the first three days, nervously glancing over to ascertain why we were in this room and when would we be leaving? He is nothing if not a pack animal; the thought that he could lounge around downstairs by himself hasn’t occurred to him.

I’m learning to like it here. On the second floor I’m level with the tree tops, currently waving in fury with the teeming rain. I’m high enough above the street not to get caught up in who’s passing by, the noise of the weekly garbage collection or the cries of the neighborhood children skateboarding by. Yet I feel connected to my little world nonetheless.

Whether the sun’s rays bounce off buildings and slowly turn to shadow as it arcs across the summer sky, or the rain pelts the windows and slides in rivulets down the panes, it doesn’t matter.

I am at my desk, writing, and seeing things from a new perspective.

[Image credit: happykanppy portfolio 1948 freedigitalphotos.net]


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