Negen jaar geleden, woonde we nog in Amsterdam. Onze huis stond wel leeg met een boordje in het raam: “Te Koop.” Maar onze vrienden… onze kerk… onze gezinsgeschiedenis… Die waren allemaal nog steeds daar, in Nederland.
Tot de ochtend van 10 juli 2012.
TRANSLATION: Nine years ago, we still lived in Amsterdam. True: our house was empty, with a sign in the window saying: “For Sale.” But our friends… our church… our family history… These were all still there, in the Netherlands.
Until the morning of July 10, 2012.
A lot has happened since the 10th of July, 2012. We expected change when we waved “Tot ziens” to our friends at Schiphol Airport that morning. Our family knew that we’d be speaking a different language, using a different currency, getting around with different modes of transport. We knew that we’d be making new friends, building into a new church community, and writing a new chapter in our family’s history. Still, I don’t think we were prepared for how quickly the time would stack up — putting separation between our family and our life in Amsterdam.
The kids were so little. Elliot was ten years old. Even though he was not born in Amsterdam, a whopping 92% of his life had taken place in the Netherlands. Olivia was almost eight years old, and Cor was almost five years old — and they’d lived in Amsterdam since they were born. 100% and 100%. I look at the picture taken while visiting the Crawford County Fair a couple of weeks after our move to Ohio, and it strikes me how jarring that transition must have been: from urban Europe to rural Ohio. I’m proud of the way they took it in stride. Still, we asked a lot of them with that move.
Now, they’re all teenagers. Elliot is 19. Olivia is almost 17. And Cor is almost 14. The percentage of their lives spent in Amsterdam continues to shrink with each passing year. They can all still say they’ve spent about half of their life in the Netherlands (Elliot’s percentage is now 49%; Olivia’s is 47.5%; and Cor’s is about 56.5%). But in the months and years to come, that percentage will grow even smaller. And somehow, that feels really weird to me.
Even for myself, after another six months here in Kent, I’ll have lived in this town for longer than I lived in Amsterdam. Longer than I’ve lived in any other town for my entire life.
Nine years ago, some of our closest friends weren’t even acquaintances. Our extended family was still relatively far-flung and independent. I thought that the way H2O Kent did church felt kind of weird. And I had no idea that I’d come to love the sport of running as much as I have. But a lot has happened in the last nine years. We’ve put down roots here in northeast Ohio, and we’ve established ourselves.
This date in history will probably always feel significant as a closing of the Amsterdam chapter of our lives. But it was also the opening of the Northeast Ohio chapter of our lives. I want to remember and appreciate both. So: proost to all of you who have played a role in our lives, either Amsterdam or Kent. We houden van jullie. We love you.