Home Is Where The Heart Is

I have moved over six times in the past four years. I have lived in five different countries since I was born, each time allowing that place to become ‘home.’ Yet as I sit here in Connecticut, the place where I grew up and lived for over twenty years, I know for a fact, home is ONLY where the heart is.

For me that home is wherever J is.

Of course, I love being in Connecticut for a visit, but after two weeks, my heart has started to hurt a bit. While I know all the ins and outs of my childhood home, I somehow feel like a stranger being here. It surprising really how homesick a person can get while being in a familiar place surrounded by family.

I’ve changed a lot over the past few years. Done a great deal of growing and getting to know myself. This included growing out things and people as well. It has also taught me who and what is important in a happy life, things that previously in life I may have dismissed. Mostly, I have learnt to let love and happiness in and not to let my past dictate my present too much.

Love is the biggest lesson for me. It’s been the most special one to me as well. It has taught me that I am capable of loving and capable of being loved back. That if there is anything I really want out of life, it is to know that I loved as hard and as freely as I could. That I never held back even when I was terrified. I believe I can achieve that out of life.

Mostly though, love has taught me that home is not a place, but a person for me. That it is with that person I feel safe. That I feel I can be 100% myself and never judged. That I can sing and dance and feel beautiful always. Just the two of us, surrounded in the love we have made together. Yeah, that’s home for me.

Healing & Friendships

I have never had an easy time with making friends. It’s an area that I feel needs a lot of trust and I have trouble giving that out.

One of my biggest faults is that I am so closed off from people. It is difficult to open up and let people in. It is definitely a side of me that has not fully healed from the past.

When I meet a new person, I like to observe them, see what they are about. This often comes across the wrong way, as it can be seen as judging. Fact of the matter is, I’m not judging, I’m just trying to figure out whether I am safe with the person.

Can I trust this person? Can I tell them things about me? Let them get to know me? Will they find a way to hurt or betray me? Analyse, analyse, analyse.

Too much analysing usually makes you lose your chance though.

I wish I could be the open, carefree person, who is just friends with everyone. The thought alone scares me though.

As often as I talk about wanting new friends, the truth of the matter is, I’m probably just not ready for new ones. I’m learning to be okay with that, in a world where everyone seems to be amazing at socialising. Healing takes time, building trust takes even more, and the right people will come and be patient. Most of all, they will stay.

Becoming American

I may not have been born in America, but I grew up here. We moved from Curacao when I was four and I stayed until I was 23. From there, it has been a lot of back and forth between America and Ireland for me. But I have always been American, just my status as an Alien Resident said otherwise.

It is a strange thing to feel so American, sound so American, act so American, yet not fully be considered American for so many years. I also wouldn’t be considered fully Dutch, as I haven’t lived in the Netherlands since I was one. So, for the longest time, it was conflict between the Dutch side of me and the American. Figuring out which one I truly was.

If you ask me now, I’d say I’m both. I have my parent who raised us with Dutch traditions and the Dutch language, but I have my whole childhood and adulthood which made me American.

As of yesterday, October 6th, 2021, I can proudly say I am an American citizen. It was 27 years in the making, but it’s finally official.

It’s a weird sensation becoming a citizen, both an emotional one, but a calming one. Emotional, as I feel a big weight lifted off my shoulders, but also calming because I finally feel that I belong.

I will always consider myself to be Dutch American, never fully one or the other. It fills me with pride to have such background and I am honoured to be able to be both. But ‘American’ has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Why Write?

My brothers keep asking me why I like to write and why I both bother to blog and journal. They also like to call me a ‘nerd.’ Which is fair because I definitely am one where reading and writing are concerned.

The answer to their question is that writing calms my mind. Besides reading it is one of the only things that does.

I have always been the quiet one in both my family and around my friends. I’m not shy, I just like to observe. Most of the time, I also just don’t have much to say. A lot of people talk too much, mostly about nothing at all.

Inside my mind though, it is always loud. I am always thinking, daydreaming, wondering. That’s the way it has always been for me, part of the group, but always in my own world.

Writing helps to calm that, to put all that in my mind on the page and release it. Sometimes it becomes easy to get lost in my thoughts and daydreams, writing brings me back.

I like how I can put whatever comes to mind to paper. It tends to be easier than speaking most of the time. Writing is my form of expression, where words come tumbling out, words about the vast array of thoughts that cross my mind a day. Words about the dreams I have. Words about that the nightmares and sorrows. Just words that set me free.

I wish everyone would write more, I believe it would make the world more peaceful. Get people to write their feelings down, both good and bad, their stories too. It would help us all understand each other better, as many never say the things they really believe or feel.

I wonder about that often. What would the person next to me write about if given an empty sheet of paper? Would it be deep or would it be carefree? Would I look at them the same after? Would I understand how they feel or what they see? Would it be dark and scary? Would it be happy and light? I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.

All with all these thoughts that spin in my mind, I wish my tongue would allow me to speak more freely. I wish I didn’t stop myself from saying all the things I feel and have felt. Why am I always so afraid? And so I write. There is no fear with the paper. Behind the pen I am me and for now that is enough.

Learning to Love my Natural Self

Growing up female is hard enough as it is. As girls we spend a little too much changing ourselves to fit in and it doesn’t get much better as we get older. As women, at least you learn to develop a sense of self for the most part, which might help you branch away from the social norm. For me, this would be loving my natural self, which might not fit the standard of beauty that one is accustomed to in the media around us.

That being said, I am beautiful, but I have spent many years changing myself to fit western beauty ideology. This is due to many outside factors, including my peers who while I was young would have snide comments about my hair. My wild, frizzy, curly hair. My biggest insecurity growing up.

I remember being 13 and having one of my closest friends tell me my hair resembled a rat’s nest. And the boy at 15 who I had a crush on, who told me, my face was pretty, but I’d be better if I did something about my hair. That’s when the years of straightening my hair daily began.

It’s funny how it it other people who change the perspective on yourself. I used to love my curls, sure they were difficult to manage, but I had always felt they fit me nicely. But if everyone says straight hair is better, it must be right?

I started to try and love my natural hair in my early twenties, but I would only ever wear it natural around people I was comfortable with. never outside the house and never around a stranger. I didn’t want to be looked at and feel as though i was not beautiful.

It was this year during COVID that I truly began to embrace my curls. They are a lot of work, but the bigger they are, the more I love them. The wilder they are, the more free I feel. It’s with my curls that I finally feel like me again. It doesn’t matter if they do not fit everyone’s perception of beauty, I feel beautiful. And that’s all that matters right?

The Next Step

Today, we put our deposit down for our new apartment. We are finally doing the move to the Netherlands. For my partner, J, this is all new, but for me, I have been waiting my whole life to move back to the Netherlands.

It has taken many twists and turns, countries and jobs, to end up heading back to the country my life began. Each step was meant to be, and has made me into the person I am today. Each experience I have had, both the good and the bad, have shaped me and prepared me for this life ahead.

Really though, I am blessed to have a partner who is so supportive of me and is as adventurous as I am. I honestly believe he is the one who really pushed me into finally taking the leap to move to the one place I have always dreamed to be. It is an adventure we are now able to take together and I cannot wait.

Being born in Rotterdam and growing up in a Dutch family living in America, I have always maintained a strong love for the motherland. With majority of my family still living in the Netherlands, there is a real sense of ‘coming home’ with this move.

It will, of course, as any move be an adjustment and maybe a culture shock, but I believe it is the start of a glorious new chapter. The Dutch chapter, the one where I’m in love with life, my partner, our ‘future’ cat, and my country.

I hope to keep you all updated on the move and the adjustment regarding living in the Netherlands, as well as, bring you many new stories and experiences. It’s sure to be a rollercoaster, so fasten your seatbelts!

Apple Picking

Oh man, I LOVE fall. The weather is perfect, the leaves falling and changing colours are gorgeous, and the fall activities, however basic, are always the most fun.

It’s a yearly tradition that my father and I go apple picking together. It may seem like the simplest activity, but it’s the one we spend all year looking most forward to. It is so special to us, that for the past few years I have flown home from Europe to make our yearly trip to the apple orchard.

Today, we went to Stuart’s Fruit Farm in Granite Springs, NY. It is a lovely family owned farm with a delicious bakery and fruit stand. They offer hay rides for the little one, although it looks like such fun, I’m always tempted to join.

The orchard itself is a nice walk through various types of apples, such as, Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Winesap. My favourite one being the Honeycrisp, due to the sweetness that remains unmatched. There is a even a few peach trees boasting luscious, juicy peaches, if you look hard enough.

The best part of apple picking is of course, the bakery. I don’t know why, but the apple cider donuts and dutch apple pie at apple orchards cannot be beat. When it boils down to it, we all know the main goal behind the trip is for those donuts. Be careful for the wasps though! They love them just as much as I do.

All in all, it was a wonderful few hours, and as I sit here writing and licking my fingers from the apple cider donut I just inhaled, I’m already looking forward to next year.

Books, Books, Books

I love books. None of that audio book or kindle nonsense for me. Just the tried and true, book that you can hold in your hands that come with the very specific smell only books have. Nothing beats it.

I’m a bookworm, always have been. The child who would go missing for hours at a time, only to be found somewhere in a corner reading a book. For me, reading can make the worst day turn around. It is my one true escape.

Reading a book allows me to leave this world behind and completely join a new one. It’s never just been a story on the page, books have been little lives I have been allowed to live.

Some people read, but stay distracted with the things around them. When I read, I can shut it all out. My siblings joke that someone could be getting murdered beside me, but if I am reading, I could be none the wiser.

Many emotions come with reading, allowing books to become little lives you live. To be a true reader, you have to connect with the characters, almost become them. That is what makes a book special. Connecting with it. Letting yourself feel. Caring about the way that little life turns out. Being sad when it ends. For a long time, it was only when I was reading that I could feel anything at all.

I think more people should try and become readers. Try and live different little lives. See the worlds other people live. It may not be real life, but I think you can learn something from each book you read. It can be a new emotion that it brought out of you, a new way of thinking, or just a little piece of joy. Books are special in a way TV and movies are not, a true escape into your own mind. If you haven’t picked up a book in a while, try to do so and see all the little worlds you can live if you only start.

When You Miss Someone

I’d have to say that one of the shittiest (excuse my French) feelings in the world has to be missing someone.

As talked about in a previous post, my love, aka my boyfriend, lives quite far away from me. 3,074 miles to be exact. Not even a drive away, but a six hour flight away. Add a five hour time difference, and you’re living the life.

The life of missing that person, that is.

Long distance is tough, it revolves around a lot of scheduling, waiting, and planning. You miss out on the things that most couples experience together daily and wish constantly that they were there with you.

Life becomes almost split, living in moments, waiting for the day you get to sit in each others company once more or have your toe touching their foot, at the very least. (One of my love languages or how I show love, other than giving gifts*, is physical touch, so that should explain that.)

But the missing, oh the damn missing, that is a feeling that is hard to control. You can control the sadness, the paranoia, and the stress, but the missing, I think is the feeling that always sticks around.

I could be the happiest person in the room, and a part of me will always feel the missing. The, just wanting to be with that person because they are the part of you that makes you feel the most whole.

Missing comes in waves mostly, sometimes it’s a little less because there’s more to distract you and other times, like nighttime, it’s like a smack in the face. I’ve really grown to hate the nighttime since there’s nothing I’d like more than for him to be next to me. Nighttime also tends to be the time of day my thoughts go on turbo engine mode, so it’s not a pretty mix, to say the least.

But the thing about missing is that it always comes to an end because you’re finally with that person again. And the funny thing is, the second that you’re with them, you forget about all the missing, and all that matters is that you’re together.

So, while missing is brutal, it has also taught me to appreciate the time I do get with my boyfriend a whole lot more. Even the times we FaceTime, those few moments a day, where I just get to stare at him** or hear his voice, count the most. They are, by far, the best part of my day, everyday.

The same goes for the days I have gotten to spend with him in person, because of all the missing, every second with him means something to me. They were some of the best days of my life, because he is the most important person to me. We could be doing absolutely nothing and I would rate a 11/10 day.

The fact of the matter is, missing someone is shit, but if you love them, you do what you can and you deal with some of the shittier things, like missing, to be with them. And like I said before, it’s never forever, the missing always comes to an end.

Cheers!

Mirjam

*I know the love language is receiving gifts, but since it is in regards to how I express love, I put it as giving.

**He hates when I stare, which means I have to do it even more, in even creepier ways, muahaha

It’s The Ink Life For Me

Tattoos. Still a bit taboo for some, but for most they are completely normal. So much so, that almost everyone I know has at least one tattoo.

I’ve been obsessed with tattoos since I was a little girl and saw all the builders at my house with them. Completely fascinated by them I was. Then, once my “cool, older cousin” came around with her cute little hip tattoo, I was dead set on the fact that when I was old enough I would start getting my own.

Fast forward to ten years later, there I was getting my very first tattoo, a cute little hip one, just like my cousin.

That is now another ten years ago, and I have a running total of eleven tattoos, which is already eleven too many for my mother.

For me, tattoos are little reminders of the past or lessons I want to remember. Some came from alcohol based decisions, which well, it is what it is, and others had a lot of thought put behind them. Either way, there is not one that I regret and there are many more to be added.

Funny thing is, as much as I love my tattoos, I hate telling people about them. It’s almost a touchy subject for me when they get asked about because so many of them have such personal meanings to me. Putting out those meanings to people who ask, gives them room for judgement, and that’s something I have never reacted well to.

For the purpose of this post though, I will be talking about the tattoos I have and all the meanings behind them. Who knows, maybe the more I put it out there, the less I’ll care about what people think.

  1. Sun and Moon- My very first tattoo. Is my symbol for true love. This thought really came from a quote I had read at the time which romanticized the sun and the moon. “Tell me the story about how the sun loved the moon so much, he died every night to let her breathe.” I could analyze that quote for days, but maybe I’ll leave that for another time.
  2. Diamond- This is placed on my inner bicep and is a representation of strength. At the time I had been going through a lot emotionally and diamonds are meant to be unbreakable, which my young self (17 at the time) loved the symbolism of.
  3. Sempre Ad Meliora- On my right hip, is a latin phrase translated to “Always Towards Better Things.” Also from said, emotionally challenging time, but is a phrase that I strive to make true. I know sometimes life can send you hurdles, but there are always better things to come and I’m constantly headed towards them.
  4. Compass- Located on my upper mid back. This was designed by my younger brother, and is in honor of my love for the maritime world, as well as my love of travel.
  5. “Wild” in a heart shape- Located on my bum. (Sorry, not sorry.) Was more of a drunken decision, but accurately represents my wild heart. Mother loved it, said it fit me well anyways.
  6. Unalome- On my sternum. Definitely my most painful tattoo. Was very into Buddhism during that time, even took multiple religion classes in college regarding their practices. Represents the souls path to enlightenment, which was always a thought that calmed me, thinking that one day my soul will be at peace.
  7. “Faith” written to look like a cross- Back of my arm. My faith has always been important to me, but especially during the time I got it done. Is now a constant reminder to check in on that faith, whatever it may be at the time.
  8. Song lyric, “With grace in her heart, and flowers in her hair.”- Inner arm. This lyric is from a Mumford and Sons song, called “After the Storm.” The song is one of my favorites, makes me cry whenever I hear it. Pulled me out of a very dark place and the lyrics tell a story of the way I want to end up.
  9. Phoenix bird- On my ribcage. The phoenix symbolically represents rising out of the ashes and having a renewal at life. I view myself that way, I escaped a really horrible time and situation in my life and completely rebuilt myself to who I am now.
  10. “Albatraoz”- Side of lower arm. Another drunken decision. The song “I’m an Albatraoz” by AronChupa, came on during a night out, which was already a jam of mine, but finding out that Albatraoz means “bad bitch” sealed the deal.
  11. Sunflower & Peony- Lower arm. This is my most recent and most detailed tattoo, an absolutely beautiful gray & white single needle tattoo. In honor of my best friend and I. My favorite flower is the sunflower and hers is the peony. Together, forever really.

So, there you have, all the ink that makes my skin the piece of artwork it is.

All little pieces of my past, that I carry along with me.

It really doesn’t get more special than that.

Cheers!

Mirjam xx