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Monday Morning Musings #57 – plugging back in

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On the way to the shops, The Hague

I have a confession to make. Despite being back in The Hague for two and a half years now, despite this being a familiar place, despite living in a house we actually own, we are still not feeling settled.

Notice how I said ‘we’? Ian feels the same. All this time and yet we are still not really ‘engaged’ with this beautiful city. We still feel in limbo. Unsettled. Uneasy. Part of me admits I don’t really want to belong. I want to be somewhere else. I don’t know where, even. I go back to my home town to visit my mother and see old friends, gaze at the beauty of England’s finest stone town and I want to live there. I go to Devon to spend time in an isolated hamlet deep in a secret valley with dear friends and pick gooseberries and beetroot and I want to live there. We visit Josh who is now living on the Costa Blanca and eat calamari a la planchaand want to live there. I have felt as if I want to live anywhere but here. And yet. And yet, the truth is – The Hague is a wonderful place to live. It is beautiful, with wide streets and elegant houses, wild green spaces and safe and plentiful cycle lanes. Things work here. People speak English, happily. We have friends. We can be on the beach watching a sunset in less than half an hour. We have cinema passes and go watch independent and foreign films every week. So why is it so hard to give in and accept we are here and it’s fabulous and we are lucky

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Sunset at Scheveningen

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and wonder whether this feeling of perpetual discombobulation is the price we have paid for living 32 years on the move. So used to moving on that, like when you finally step on land after a few days at sea, your body is still lurching forward?

We feel ungrateful. Wicked, even. And we have found a few valid reasons, or excuses, for this unjustified disgruntlement: our boys were home for a long time, so we had a full house and distraction; I don’t belong to any networks anymore; my father was ill and I spent half the time in England last year; I’ve been grieving; we’re getting older and thinking this may be it is scary; moving is our normal.

And so, for the last few weeks Ian and I have made a real effort to name and notice the good things we have here. We are making sure we indulge in weekly trips to the cinema, the live music on offer, the woods at the end of our street, the raw herring. I think of the wisdom of Ruth Van Reken who says that we can only integrate in a community if we go out and explore it – so we are putting more trips out in the diary. But mostly, I am just making an effort to be mindful and to mentally appreciate things. I mean, how many people can be at an international airport within an hour of their own front door on public transport? How many people can live without owning a car? How many people live a 20-minute walk from the city centre and walk past horse chestnut trees and waterways on their way to the Apple store?

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Entering the city centre

Is it working? Ask me in a month.

Does this post resonate with you? I’m curious to know whether it’s just me.

9 thoughts on “Monday Morning Musings #57 – plugging back in”

  1. No, it’s not just you. Small comfort. Temperatures are dropping and the migratory birds are collecting in fields preparing for their journeys to warmer regions. Something in me also yearns to pack up and leave. But it’s not purely seasonal. Birds return to their breeding grounds, where they were born.

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  2. Love this post Jo – & whilst I love where I live, I always think ‘I could live here’ when I’m elsewhere. Just global nomads at heart!!

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  3. It’s that terrible conflict of the grass is always greener, versus there’s no place like home – unless you’re a wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home kind of person.

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  4. I loved reading your musings Jo. I‘ve been reflecting on this too and wonder about this double life we lead. One week-end, we are in England visiting family, the next in another part of Switzerland visiting friends from a time when we used to live there, the next again we are in Hungary. How do we root ourselves in the local when we have parts of us all over the world? Intentionality springs to mind. Like you were saying, looking at all the good things and great relationships around us and making sure we are
    involved in local life as well.

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    1. Yes, true, Rhoda. The more we keep moving, the harder it is to settle. I find though, annoyingly, that constant trips make me happy so I am hoisted by my own petard!

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