I don’t know where our dog or our seven bags are but the line into passport control is quick only because we waited twenty minutes for the ground crew to fish out our stroller from the plane that we thought we needed given the six hour layover we were about to endure. We just got off of a Boeing 787 after a nine and a half hour flight yet the kids are still surprisingly well behaved and rested. As we stumble into customs in Frankfurt the young gentleman sees that we are on our way to Amsterdam and asks “why are you going there?”… I look at him in a jet-lagged daze yet not wanting to let my dad joke go to waste say: “I’m going to Amsterdam for the beer…” I immediately regret the joke, on premise of the whole “never say bomb on an airplane” philosophy from Meet the Parents. We have a dog in the cargo hold who needs to be passed through customs as an “imported live animal.” I think I did all the paperwork right to make this happen, but ultimately I am just guessing and trusting in the process that she’ll make it through. If this guy is having a bad day I may have just cost us hours. He looks at me with a somewhat unfriendly face, down at my passport, types a few things in his computer and then back to me. He holds my passport up to my face, looks at me, to the passport, and says: “Then stay in Germany, we have much better beer here” and with that familiar clunk that I have come to love over the years as I have traveled, sets it down, stamps it and waves me by. With relief I smile at him and walk by. So began our European journey. We have been here (Europe) many times. But never with children. Never with our dog Abby. Never with an intention to put down roots and live. But here we are.
There have been many times in my life that we have been guided by the mentality which one may describe as YOLO. That thought of: yes, we are comfortable, we have good jobs, a nice neighborhood with great friends, the kids like their schools, we are close to family… so why change anything? And that’s a great question. Why would you? Why would we? Yet that’s what we did. We took a family of five (including our dog) and uprooted all we have ever known to move to Europe.
In a way this new part of the blog will try to answer that question. But not directly: rather through the eyes of a six year old seeing a real castle for the first time; through the look on two year old Owen’s face as he bites into a warm freshly made Stroopwaffel in a farmers’ market. It’s experiences like that that brought us here. Well, technically it was because Jenn transferred to her company’s Euro headquarters, but more so: it’s for the life that we expect we will live. Our dog now swims in a canal on her evening walks, Jacob is in a school learning Dutch and teaching it to us and we bike every single place we go. What a life.
This is definitely not America. Having lived in the USA my whole life I have had a stereotypical vision of Europeans, colored by my travels here, the news, the things that Trump says (OK, I take that with a BIG grain of salt). But I never thought I would be one if only for a temporary amount of time. I posted a few weeks ago on how my family moved to the USA hundreds of years ago via the Netherlands (they were German, but departed from the port of Rotterdam) and now we are moving back. Here you will find what it’s like to be “back” for us. The adventures, the challenges, the story of expats being in a place that yes, is as just like home as New York City in many ways, but also in many ways both painfully and beautifully different.