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Surfacing

Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.

Yours truly, sheepishly shrugging while simultaneously cringing at how pathetic this looks.

When last I posted several weeks agesΒ ago, I dropped the bombshell we were moving back to the US this summer. That news was indeed incendiary on a personal basis as we had fully expected to stay another year, possibly two, in the Netherlands.

At the time I had a list of nine – count ’em, nine – relevant post topics I fully intended to crank out in the ensuing weeks before the movers arrived and I’d be forced to invoke radio silence for a while. Because that’s what tends to happen to expats/cross-culturals when in transition: we fall off the face of the earth.

Or at least it seems that way. But best laid plans go awry, and so on. I’d been humming along at a furious pace, trying to juggle move prep with finishing the 101 tedious little things necessary to get a book published, with an editor, publisher and layout designer practically pulling their hair out.

Okay, there may be a bald patch or two with my name on them, and for that I am truly sorry.

I was keeping up with packing lists and the household inventory needed by the Dutch moving company, and answering questions posed by the American company that would help our goods clear customs and be delivered later in the summer. Stateside school applications for Daughter were duly submitted and awaiting decisions.

I’d lined up temporary housing for when the furniture, clothing and assorted accumulations of family life would begin being packed up, and enlisted help for the notoriously exacting scrub down required by Dutch landlords which would commence the moment the truck hauling the shipping container pulled away from the curb and not cease until the keys were returned to their rightful owner.

We worked out the private sale of our car to a citizen of another European Union country, graciously arranged by the dealer from whom we’d originally purchased it. He even placed phone calls to the Ministry of Taxation to ensure we were fully compliant with Dutch sales law and then turned around and explained the lengthy and convoluted process to the administrative person at Husband’s international organization.

I ran errands, made travel arrangements and pet health paperwork appointments, and ferried family members, animals and inanimate objects hither and yon for a variety of reasons. We consulted spreadsheets and added items to already full ‘to do’ lists faster than we could cross out the completed ones. We tackled closets and dressers, tossing and donating and giving away, doing our best to make all that remained truly ‘shipment worthy’.

But in the end, something had to give. The tsunami of things left to do threatened to overwhelm the remaining days which ticked down to mere hours. There were also the protracted negotiations with our landlord over what constituted normal wear and tear for an average family living in a residence four years, and what each party thought was a reasonable amount of our security deposit, causing great consternation and grinding down our will to live: we were thinking in percentages and he was thinking all that and then some, the equivalent of some countries’ gross national product.

Not surprisingly, blogging and interaction on social media fell by the wayside. By the time things were settled in the Netherlands, it was time to head back to the US and two trips to Florida to be with my parents as my father entered his last days. There is much I don’t recall of that period, and it’s probably just as well. I liken it to being subsumed by a black hole, and whether my memory returns in part or in its entirety remains to be seen.

This coincided with and was followed by a period of protracted lack of internet connectivity, made all the longer by a cable company which insisted on operating as if in a failed state rather than a first world country. The household goods arrived a week ago, furniture has been arranged and the boxes have been emptied, although whether everything has been put away I refuse to comment.

At long last I’m beginning to surface, coming up for air in a new stage in a new place in a country and culture which seem familiar yet I don’t always recognize. I’m reminded on a daily basis that I’m not in the Netherlands anymore. Some days it hurts less than others. I’m getting better, if you overlook the time I burst into tears over yogurt at breakfast a month ago when I heard the guttural lilt ofΒ Nederlands spoken by a tourist in the hotel dining room.

Every day we exchange looks of satisfaction as we remember why we love it here so. The book is published, and I’m slowly easing back into catching up on social media. There are life changes and exciting plans underway, and new adventures to be embraced if we can just survive that d@mn ‘to do’ list. Funny how it managed to follow us across the pond…

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