I’ve just returned ‘home’ to Dordrecht after a month ‘home’ in Melbourne. The temperature has dropped by forty degrees (although it’s actually half-pleasant for winter), I’m all messed up by jetlag (is it something you only get in your later years?) and I even got a ‘welkom thuis’ (welcome home) from the passport officer at Amsterdam Airport.
I loved my month back home. It was my second visit since moving to Dordrecht three years ago, and my first in two years. That first visit came less than a year after I’d left, when everything over here was still relatively new and I still felt relatively temporary. This time was different.
I’d missed home particularly over the previous couple of months – homesickness was a foreign concept before that – and things had changed while I was gone. Footscray Station was unrecognisable. South Melbourne Market Dim Sims had opened up outlets in the city. Zara and Topshop had come to Australia. My parents’ dog Jerry had gained some manners. Even the government had changed, and not for the good.
But some things hadn’t. People were still complaining about the same things; myki, speed cameras and the Melbourne Star. My favourite little strip of Asian restaurants in Swanston Street was still intact. The 57 tram was still stuck in the 1970s and lacking air conditioning. Internet connections were still deathly slow. And we still filled the MCG on Boxing Day.
Paul and I busied ourselves over the month. We checked out our old haunts – the South Melbourne Market, the MCG and the Westpac Centre (where we saw Nathan Buckley, Peter Daicos, Nathan Brown AND Tarkyn Lockyer). We discovered new ones – I stayed a night in the luxurious Crown Metropol, enjoyed dinner with friends at the Panama Dining Room and rode a horse down on the Mornington Peninsula.
We also spent a week down the beach. For any non-Aussies reading this, a week down the beach after Christmas is a tradition for many, and my family has been no different. I can remember the different spots in which we’ve holidayed over the years – Blairgowrie, Ocean Grove, Lorne, Portarlington, Robe, Merimbula… the list goes on. Sometimes we mixed it up and got a houseboat on a lake or river. This time, we picked Torquay and filled our week with plenty of beach action, shopping, coffee-ing and a hell of a lot of movies. Yep, the house we rented in Torquay Sands had a cinema room!
And now I’m back here in Dordrecht. I’ve come back jobless, which is a very strange position to be in. I still hardly know anyone here. And it’s cold.
For the first couple of weeks in Melbourne, I was worried about coming back. Life in Melbourne was easy – I could speak the language fluently, I knew my way around and I was surrounded by people who knew me well, and had welcomed me back as if I’d never been away. Why was I leaving again?
But then something changed. I’m not sure what it was, perhaps I just slapped myself in the face and told myself to get over it all. We’re probably going to be living in Holland for another year or so, not a lifetime. Paul is the loveliest guy I could ask for. And now I’ve got all this free time to yes, job-search, but do something else I love; write. Why not turn this into my advantage and try and write as much as I possibly can?
I’m pretty cynical, usually; I hate people’s boasting on Facebook on how wonderful everything is. I hate New Year’s resolutions. But, perhaps a couple of weeks late, I’ve decided there’s no harm in having some expat resolutions, of which I can think of a few:
- Pass the NT2 Staatexam and in turn qualify to receive my Dutch passport;
- Combat the dreary weather by going on a health kick;
- Get published either in print or online;
- Find some new paid work, whether it be part- or full-time; and
- Explore some new places both in Holland and elsewhere in Europe.
So there you go. I’m thinking POSITIVELY! And guess what? The sun is even out. What a welcome back. Happy days.