Saturday, November 7, 2009

Home is where I lay my cat

I came home early this weekend--I was finished everything, and realized I could pack my bags and arrive in Nijmegen at a not-unseemly hour. This is, in fact, a rather big deal, because it's a 2+ hour trip between Nijmegen, where my boyfriend is, and Maastricht, where I now work and where I will permanently settle over this coming month.

I'd made the decision to move to Maastricht because, after 17 months of commuting between Leiden and Nijmegen, I'd had enough of the NS--to be completely fair, it's a pretty decent train service, but when it's bad, it's BAD (you know it). For now, I'm residing in "company housing" until my lease kicks in and I can start moving stuff, which I anticipate taking a few weeks, as I don't have a car and so will have to move just about everything by bike. The whole situation makes for a nauseatingly-head-spinning state of limbo, as I work to settle the question of where my home is.

Home, for me, is my boyfriend's apartment, where he is keeping our three cats until I've settled down: Shadow, my loveable and gentle git (below, left); the Tweeb, a little old lady (below, right); and Leto, our newest addition (above). It would not be a lie to say that the cats make up our home--they lend an air of contentment, reminding us to be grateful for simple things like each other, good food, and a clean toilet--and their antics provide plenty of amusement. But home is also in the (comparative) opulence of the place, with it's many antiquated (or at least old) pieces of furnture, complemented by the state of stark cleanliness which we both work very hard at to keep it in (how's that for prepositions?). I think a large part of what makes a home is how well you know where the dust bunnies hide...

I don't know if I could ever make Maastricht a home in the same way that Philadelphia used to be mine: I still get an adrenaline rush every time I remember living in that smoggy dump of a city, the only thing left after I stopped counting how many ways I could've been run over (I rode a bike in Philly, too). You lose a part of yourself to the places you almost die in, I think--or maybe it's just that you gain a whole new appreciation for the life you have when you come within a hair of losing it. Either way, the fact that the Dutch are far better at accommodating bikers means that there will have to be another way to define "home" in the Netherlands.

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