You and your new city. Just like with any new relationship, there are ups and downs. You’re still getting to know eachother and perhaps from time to time you fall out, maybe even nearly break up a couple of times, over silly things like the public transport system or the average price of beer.
But, mostly, the first few months had excitement written all over them; finding your favourite spots, meeting lots of lovely new people, and getting to know the quirks of your new surroundings.
A few months down the line, the feeling just isn’t the same. Where did the butterflies go? You have traded the sense of adventure for a love of the familiar and the known. Of course there are still plenty of places left to explore, but you have to go a little more out of your way to find them now. It’s not such a bad thing, but it might be time to admit that the honeymoon is over.
I remember when I first moved to Utrecht. When riding a bike everywhere was still a novelty. When the library was a new place that looked like knowledge instead of reeking of exams and deadlines. When the Oudegracht made a damn good (and highly original) picture. I remember having an excuse for being lost, and feeling like a tourist asking for directions. I remember when I couldn’t even order a coffee in Dutch, and when the airport still felt exciting. I remember when the wind was always in your face and never in your back. I remember cycling home without a jacket, in October. I remember turning in my first assignment, and passing my first exam.
Remembering all the things that scared me about moving at first makes me feel all the more satisfied that I now take them in my stride. It can’t be a holiday forever, at some point you really start living in the city, and the contentment you find there is so much better than the initial excitement. You say “hoe gaat het?” to the guys in Koffie Leute and sink into your favourite sofa. You start to notice beautiful details on the buildings that you glossed over when you first arrived. You see those friends, laugh about the Bier Cantus last week, and share life on a deeper level. You find a deep affection and appreciation for the straightforward, thoughtful and good humoured residents of the city.
The honeymoon may be over, but somehow you’ve grown closer together.