26 August 2011

Ten years and one baby later

Ten years ago today, I arrived in the Netherlands, about to begin my experience as an international student. Icelandair was the only airline that would sell a one-way ticket, so we stopped over for a couple hours in Reykjavik. As the plane landed in the sunrise, I remember staring out my window at glorious pink hued beauty. Though convinced of my maturity, I was relieved that my parents had insisted on coming with me.

When we got to Amsterdam, the weather was sweltering and the crowds immense. We didn't know how the trains worked and traffic was an overwhelming accessory to our luggage and jet lag. In the first weeks, I was determined to look like I knew where I was going, so I would stride confidently up and down the main streets, only to dart into alleyways to check my map. I was deeply self-conscious of my US passport.

In the following years I got some degrees. I earned a living babysitting, cleaning houses, walking dogs, and finally teaching. Living on the cusp of illegality, I fought the IND in their most xenophobic years (so far). I visited the nude spa, quit smoking and learned to dance salsa. I traveled all over the place. I lived in three tiny apartments before settled down in Leiden. I got married at the Spanish Consulate in the Frederiksplein and walked the Vondelpark in my wedding dress. I passed the ultimate expat test: being pregnant and giving birth in a foreign country. Through it all, I confess that becoming a mommy has topped it all.

And here I am, back in Reykjavik for the second time, exactly ten years to the day since this adventure started. Today is also Adrian's first birthday. Later this morning we will enjoy the Reykjavik Zoo and made him feel like the most special boy on earth.


  1. Congrats on such a wonderful anniversary/birthday! All the best & saludos desde Argentina!

  2. Thanks Robert! Great to hear from you. Hope you're doing well in Buenos Aires. We're planning another trip to South America but probably won't leave Chile. If we are back in your neck of the woods I'll definitely be in touch.

  3. wow didnt know all this! glad to read it...big hugs to both of you

  4. We have all learned so much in ten years. I'm thrilled for you and your adventuresome spirit. We're so proud of your stamina, perseverance, patience and love. We love your husband and your little boy. We couldn't be happier for you, as this special birthday and anniversary are celebrated. Kisses and hugs to all.