Friday, 20 July 2007
These are my last days in Amsterdam and, like any other thing that must come to an end, small things seem precious. Pigeons, which usually fly so annoyingly close to me when I'm biking, are cuter; the canals, within which usually float curious objects, are lovelier; friendships, which I usually need to drag my ass out of the house to tend to, are harder to let go.
I began to question myself: is gratitude reserved to the novel and the temporary?
When I first arrived, everything was breathtaking. Western Europe, with its enchanting historical buildings, museums, concerts, was an endless array of adventure and learning opportunity. Grocery shopping, bike rides in the snow, cooking - everything - was special.
But then the novelty wore out. I adapted. I tried all the good places to eat, every activity became a routine. Weekends: movies and dinner. Weekdays: studying and coffee with friends. Every new country I go to are countless churches and historical platforms and buildings and museums. What used to be exotic European languages became a spin of basic Latin words (honestly).
The premise in my head re-structured itself from the classic Western-Eastern paradigm of Advanced-Developing to New-Exciting/Adjusted-Boring. I realised that anything, no matter how amazing, surreal, out-of-this-world, will become ordinary once we've adjusted ourselves to survival.
Then you arrive to the ending of all that is normal. Everything becomes: the last time of .... (fill in the blank). The last time biking in Amsterdam, the last time I'll ever see my friends, the last time I'll ever bla di bla di bla. It's true, but come on. Virtual reality develops new forms of relationship and physical migration is more than just a possibility (statistically speaking, a person who has lived in a foreign country has a higher chance of travelling than a person who has never left their home country).
So what then?
I think it's not just me.
I think most of us have a tendency to exaggerate the novel, take everyday-life for granted and romanticise goodbyes. Ironically, the only part of life where we can really make a difference and be grateful for what we have, is the part that we take everything for granted: what you do after you wake up, how you maintain your friendships, how you love your family, what you say when you're unbelievably angry (do you deliberately say words for spite or take a step back, calm self down, and think: 'Would I really want my last words to [fill in with the name of any loved one] to be so hurtful?').
Life is not about what or who we let go, but what and who remains. The things and people we usually take for granted are the aspects in life we can still maintain. It's so easy for me, and most people I know, to belittle the things that are actually most precious.
So I am going to hug my husband, who has been such a good and supportive friend of mine for an unmeasurable 8 years. A companion for 4 years and a spouse for 2. Who has held my hand through the most defining period of my life up until now (I am pretty sure, if I am given the time, there are still so much more to come). Who is literally 'my home away from home'.
Sometimes it isn't what you are letting go, but what you will have for, hopefully, a very long time.