2015-09-13 01.37.24

Amsterdam. Buildings with pale-pink bricks stuck together with curiously white brickwork, and exposed to view; long rows of narrow apartment blocks from the early twentieth century, with large ground floor windows; just like in university towns, bicycles parked outside every house, street furniture is about democratic scruffiness, no ostentatious buildings; straight streets interspersed with parks and playgrounds, city planners at work with dreams of a democratic, yes, a socialist society.

One morning, I was having breakfast at a small cafe and felt an intense longing never to leave. I wanted to own this bike outside the small door. I wanted to wake up in the apartment above with four big windows, exploring the weather in the morning, overlooking the canal. I wanted to make a quick coffee every morning before heading out with this bike every day. The apartment would be sparsely furnished, a few paintings, a couch, a few chairs, a big dining room table. A lot of light. Half of the year, the light would come from daylight. When winter breaks, light would come from bright lights inside the apartment. When I looked at the bike, I wanted the life it implied. I wanted to open that door every morning, wanted to unlock the bike no matter the weather.

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On my way to work, I wanted to see these scenes every day. I didn’t want to miss one day without this view.

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I wanted to eat my lunch every day in places like this. Surrounded by the friendliness and openness of everyone living in and visiting Amsterdam.

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I wanted my kid to grow up in a place that feels open, safe and creative at the same time. A place where kids can have a childhood while living in an urban environment. I wanted to enjoy life every day.

2015-07-18 02.47.31

Where is the love for Amsterdam coming from? For me, it’s all about modesty. Everything seems comfortable, made for humans. Nothing is grand. Amsterdam represents a society that’s attracted to a financial mean. There is honesty in its design, in its people, in its overall feeling of the place. Everything speaks of order, cleanliness and light.

We have been in Amsterdam for 6 weeks now. Longer than we were in Germany. The place always draws us back. Even Astrid doesn’t want to leave. There’s a freedom here she can’t experience anywhere else. We are about to leave for Asia in a few days and I’m already getting homesick. Having lived here for 6 weeks reminded me what home feels like. It feels like Amsterdam, a place that’s more faithfully aligned with my identity and commitments than anything Germany or the United States can provide.

It’s good being home again. I haven’t had that feeling in more than 3 decades. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s no timetable or realistic plans to move to Amsterdam. Nothing has been set in motion. At least, I know now where I belong. It’s a beginning.