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January 16, 2013 by MM

I’m bad at transitions. I always have been. And, more specifically, I’m bad at goodbyes.

When I was little, every time I had to leave a friend’s house, I cried. I mean, I was having so much fun!!! I loved my friends!!! Why would my evil parents make me leave them??? Whyyyyyyyy?????

Once, in my very early 20s, I had a passionate affair with an Irish man whom I met abroad. When it was time for me to leave, I got on the plane and cried for the entire 9-hour flight home.

The time has come again for me to say goodbye. And, in true form, I DO. NOT. WANT. TO SAY. GOODBYE.

I found out a month ago that my company was making widespread cuts, and because I’m a newbie, I would be one of those cuts. Ever since I found out, the four-year-old in me has been screeeeeeeeeaming. “But… I just got here! I just started loving it! Things just got awesome!”

Truth be told, it took a long time for me to get comfortable here. It’s hard moving to a new country where you don’t have any close friends. If you read some of my first posts and read between the lines, maybe you can sense how lost I was. For my first handful of months here, I was counting the days until I could go back home. But at the same time, I didn’t want to leave, even then. I knew that I was here for a reason, and I knew that even though it was hard, one day it would get awesome. So I waited patiently. And then, one day, the awesomeness arrived. I say one day, but really, of course, it was gradual. But there are a few specific days I remember where I woke up and thought, “It’s here. The awesomeness is here. I waited, and it came.” And since those first initial days, it’s just gotten better. I’ve made more friends and grown closer to the first ones I made. I’ve gotten to know the city; I’ve found my favorite spots and continue to find more every day; I’ve hosted visiting friends; I’ve gotten involved with a church and an expat group; I’ve gotten to know a tiny bit more Dutch — and, at the very least, although I can’t recognize the words the cashier is saying when she asks if I want a receipt, I know, “This is the part of the transaction where she asks if I want a receipt,” and I answer like I can totally understand.

I’m leaving in 3.5 days, and part of me is very excited to get back. The weather here is freezing (although breathtakingly beautiful in the snow), and I get to return to Southern California sunshine. I can’t wait to see  my family and old friends and my favorite haunts and to eat good, reasonably priced Mexican food! But right now, I have to admit, my heart is aching. This is the kind of experience you can’t reproduce. It’s so different from how my usual day-to-day life was, and will be. The kind of bonds formed here, under these weird-ass circumstances, are thick, and it’s painful to pull away. It hurts to say goodbye to the people, the place, and the life.

I’m trying to trust that I’m on the right path, and that everything is happening for a reason. For whatever reason, I just assumed when I moved to Amsterdam that I’d experience a major life breakthrough here. Maybe I have; I’ve definitely learned a lot and grown a lot; but I still feel like I’m leaving before I should.

Every year on New Year’s Day (or thereabouts; I’m a procrastinator), I pick a word for the year. This year, it’s “faith.” As in, have faith that things are unfolding as they should. Have faith in love and in the order of the universe. Have faith that not all goodbyes are forever, and that the next chapter will be just as good.


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