Dear Leon,

The following is a blog post that was written some time ago, during a wet, rainy day here in Amsterdam.

I have no idea when you will find yourself reading this or if you’d ever come across this open letter to you at all.

Today was a Wednesday, meaning a short day at school today. I did the usual routine of strapping the car seat on to the bakfiets, carefully placing Kate into the seat and cycling to school with Alex and Harvey. I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary today.

When Lewis left for football and Billie went home to her house next door, I asked you if you wanted to come on Maxi’s walk with Kate and I. Normally, you don’t say yes because you’d rather spend the time on your half an hour screen time but today, you decided to come along. It was 4:45pm, the rain had stopped for a bit so it was the perfect time to go out and do a nice long walk around the lake.

Like our usual heart-to-hearts, we got into the topic of how long I’ve been in Amsterdam for. “Since tomorrow is February 1… It’ll be about 3 1/2 months now”, I say to you while pushing Kate’s buggy. You proceed in telling me that Lewis mentioned that Alex hasn’t reached a year with their family yet. I chuckle and correct you, telling you that Alex has actually been around for more than a year and will be marking her 2 year anniversary with their family in the summertime.

You look at me and ask, “When will Alex leave then?”

“Alex’s situation is quite unique. She’s planning to move in with her boyfriend so she’ll definitely stay in the Netherlands. But they can’t do that just yet, she still needs to save some money.”

“And he is still in school.”, you added.

I smiled. “Yes, that’s right. And to move in together, they’re both going to need money. But it’s nice for Lewis and the rest isn’t it? Alex gets to stay with them for a lot longer.”

“I wish you could stay longer.”

My heart swelled up a few sizes bigger when you said this. This always happens when the topic of me leaving comes up. What you don’t know about this time was that I was already seriously considering finding ways to stay in the Netherlands; not only because I’ve already started building a life here but also because of you and your sister. Every time you ask me when am I leaving, I bite my tongue before I could get the words “I don’t plan on leaving because I want to stay near you. I want to still be around when you become 10, 11, 12… I want to be around when Kate goes to school or when you get your first girlfriend.” because honestly, who knows? Things may change in the next few months and I didn’t want to get your hopes up.

I have not known love the way I have come to love you. Taking care of you, learning with and from you, has been the best part of my 2017 and is what I look forward to everyday. All these emotions I feel for you and Kate, I never would have expected to feel in my lifetime.

And it’s prompted by the little things that both of you do. Like when Kate makes a new sound and giggles whenever I imitate it or when you talk to me about your Harry Potter progress. I have a new appreciation for all the maids and yayas that have spent part of their lives taking care of me and my sisters.

But instead of saying all these to you, I let the emotions settle in. I look at you and touch your back and reply simply with “Me too, buddy. Me too.”

 

A letter to Amsterdam

I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped on to the plane heading towards you back in October. I cried millions of tears from the Immigration counter to my seat on the airplane because finally, I was starting the long journey I had been dreaming of. The sheer amount of blog posts, testimonials, youtube videos, and guide books that I had read could not prepare me for what was in my future, when you and I would finally come face to face. Honestly, I still cannot describe how I feel about you despite having been with you, in you, for about a month and a half already.

I will try to illustrate my thoughts in bullet form for the time being.

  1. Everyone was right about your temperament. In a single day alone, you would give me a bit of sunshine only to be followed by endless bouts of rain, scattered all throughout the day. I can’t tell when your tears will pour so I find myself staying in my waterproof boots and bright, yellow raincoat.
  2. You are kind. I lost my wallet about a week ago and somehow, it found its way back to me. If that had happened anywhere else, I knew I would have had to kiss Chewy goodbye.
  3. Nothing could have prepared me for the money situation. I was not previously informed that you promoted paperless transactions, so I was quite reliant on Anna ’til I was finally able to get a bank card of my own. This irked me for weeks even if I knew it would get better in the long run.
  4. You have so much to offer. I could get lost in the mazes of your museums for days, maybe even weeks. Don’t even get me started on the houses! The streets are generally quiet but nothing short of interesting. I could stare at you and never get bored.
  5. You are home now, but not really. I still feel like an outsider not because of the language barrier or my ethnicity. You are beautiful but a stopover, if that makes any sense. I was waiting for that feeling everyone talks about when you know you’ve found the one; that it’d be love at first sight and that I would settle here for the rest of my life. I honestly was hoping that from you, for us but sadly, it doesn’t appear to be so.

I hope you don’t mind these letters, Amsterdam. I feel like this is the first of many that I will write over the next year.

Love always,