It’s a long distance in both directions

When we left the Netherlands and moved abroad to live in Bavaria, we figured that we would be happy anywhere. Home is where the heart is, right? As long as we had the family together, all would be good. A pretty serious mental breakdown after a little more than a month in this new environment made it clear that home was not necessarily where the heart is. Happiness wasn’t just dependent on having the family together (although it means a lot, probably most, and was my main driver for a quick recovery).

We had never given too much thought to what the consequences would be. We thought we would find ourselves in the Netherlands five or six times a year. The pandemic quickly changed this z and made it so that we have only been to the Netherlands three brief times in more than two years. We have met some friends in the middle, and some have come to our place. We never even thought about the fact that no one comes to your birthday. Or worse, to your kid’s birthday. Two consecutive birthdays without guests. Just mom and dad. This year there will be mom, dad, and sis. We were the first to get married and have kids in our circles. Then we left. The last time I have seen most of my friends is at my PhD celebration party, more than two years ago. Very few of them have seen our daughter. It’s a long drive, just to go for a baby visit. That we totally understand and expected.

Many of our friends followed our lead. Some got kids too, others got married. Even more are getting married in the near future. Kids may follow. Bachelor parties, wedding celebrations, baby showers, newly born baby visits. We – or maybe I speak for myself only – had not really taken that into account. I guess the distance goes both ways. It’s far to visit us, but equally hard to visit others. Being far away from friends and family, exacerbated by limitations imposed by the pandemic, make us miss out a lot. Or at least it feels this way. Several friends have become parents, moved into dream homes, are getting married. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the newborn friends. Haven’t seen the dream houses. Although we try to attend weddings, but it’s more difficult to attend other related aspects. (We missed two dear weddings over the years due to them coinciding with the final two weeks of both pregnancies.)

It’s bizarre how much you take these things, the important life events of friends, of the people dearest to you for granted. When you live in your home country there’s no questioning whether you will attend. However, when you live far away it’s not a given, and these events induce great fears of missing out.

We have grown to like it here. We are certainly happy, but some days you just want to go home and be with friends. This weekend was a bit like that for my wife and I both…

I hope one day we will be back, cause we have some catching up to do.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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