Monday, 27 May 2013

Rambling à-la-hollandaise

When I tell people I just met I used to live in the Netherlands, the most common reaction is "how cool is that!"
Then, when I tell them I found it cold rather than cool, the reaction is a mix of "I think you just sprouted a second head right in front of my eyes" and "you sounds quite a loser."

I got used to it by now. I know that not everybody is, luckily or not, meant to call a place home just cause he/she laid a hat on it. I am of this kind of people, I discovered: I know that I don't fit well for a long period of time in all the places.
And I also realize that the shock caused by my dislike of living in the Netherlands is greater in people that never left Italy or has just visited Amsterdam in a smokey trip. Or both.
We do seem to be all inclined to think everything is better somewhere else but in Italy and me telling people that actually outside is pretty shitty too is not an easy way to start a causal conversation.

However I also feel a bit guilty when I talk about my time in the Netherlands, as if I have to justify myself and what others perceive as a defeat.
The looks of people seem to ask: "What's wrong with you?"
Well honestly, many things are wrong with me and even more were wrong, not only with me, when I used to live in Haarlem.

Everything of my life in the Netherlands feels just so relatively-something.
Relatively foreign to me, relatively forgotten, relatively detached. That's probably why I feel strangely awkward and somehow detached when I go back to the Netherlands. Which is precisely what I did last week.

It was something I felt one year ago already but recently, with Flavia and Rob visiting me in Torino and me going back to the Lowlands, it just become a very tangible, unavoidable feeling.
My memory is selectively failing when it comes to this country and my life there: just as if I wasn't really living there and I'm just watching somebody else's holiday movie or a predictable tv series, I look back and can't fully recognize my past. 
Flavia was talking about some of my past colleague and more than one I struggled with associating the names to the faces, not because I was confused but because I completely forgot about this person. Next to the names there was nothing, not a face, not a shape, sometimes maybe just a shadow.
I used to work with this people, spend 5 days a week with them and now they're just a foggy notion. This brought me to another "revelation": I remember things but not in a linear way. I got a sharp memory of the day I landed there and the day I left, but everything in the middle doesn't follow a linear timeline. Could it be I zapped through those months on board of the Tardis?
I've learnt not to regret and even my move there is something I don't regret, but, only recently I came to admit to myself that the reason for it is not that I'm grateful for the experience and the growth it provided me.
I don't regret it because I don't care. Funny, when I'm there I feel somewhat irritated: by the rudeness of people, by the awful weather and even more awful food, by the fact I couldn't fit in there. But ultimately I don't care and it makes me a little sad, because I wish I could care and because I'm not so stupid not to realize the ups of living there: it's a practical country with little emotions and, in a twisted way, the best place I could spend some months recovering from a severe burst of depression.
Ironic, isn't it? Battling depression by living in a country I find depressing: I'm pretty sure you won't find such a treatment in any medicine essay.

I don't think about all of this a lot normally, but yes, last week I had to, because I was back there for 4 days. I left on Saturday quite tired and confused, unsure of my feelings and of my own very self. I feel I'm once again walking on eggshells and annoyingly enough I got no clue why.

On Saturday I was walking towards the Openbare Bibliotheek and Amsterdam was basking under the sun. I stopped at the traffic lights, closed my eyes and enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face.
Oh, such a beautiful day! Even though, if you really want to be accurate, it's the end of March and I'm wearing a winter coat with a wool scarf and 3 layers of clothing underneath it.
Well, I commented to Flavia, that's Einstein's relativity theory à-la-hollandaise: a peculiar application of the theory by which one can sit nicely on the balcony on the last floor of Amsterdam library, enjoy the small little pleasure in life like sipping a mint tea and finding herself at peace. Relatively so, at least.

So where does all this free form rambling leave me? Nowhere precisely. Misplaced somewhere in the universe, I know that I can't make sense of the world, because I can barely make sense of myself. Yet, I know that no matter all the things that pissed me off in the Netherlands, they still got a hell of a mint tee.
I'd even define it "lekker", if only I didn't find this word as one of the most annoying and misused word of Dutch (or any other language)...

Muntthee

No comments:

Post a Comment