There were a million things I had trouble adjusting to when we moved to the Netherlands. I remember being kind of bewildered in those first months and even years because everything was different. I remember going to the first day of school in a sun dress, which was completely appropriate attire in sunny California, but out of place in Groningen, the Netherlands, where kids were wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I remember being “the new kid”: a somewhat terrifying experience for someone as rooted as I was. I remember not understanding what people were saying to me, and if I did understand, I didn’t know how to say what I was thinking in return. I remember what felt as the complete lack of order in school, even if these days I doubt my memory of full-on anarchy is accurate, and I suspect it just felt that way because I was so used to order and discipline and the relief that I felt when I knew what was expected of me. But most of all, I remember so much confusion and pain and the completely new feeling of being self-aware and self-conscious of who I was and how I acted and how much I felt like I didn’t fit in.
But this is Thankful Tuesday, not, say, Fretful Friday, so we’re not talking about all that. Because I also remember a new, good feeling – that of freedom. Freedom that was brought to me by today’s Thankful Tuesday subject matter.
All of a sudden, I could go to the library by myself. I could go to school without having to be picked up by my mom or dad. I could go to friends’ houses, sports practices, whatever, without being dependent on other people. Independence has always been important to me, so it felt great to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted.
And still, my bike lets me go places, do stuff, again, be independent. I can clear my head, get from A to B (and C, and D, and E), enjoy the weather (or hate the rain, depending on the season). I can be me, whichever me I am for that moment. I can be free.
Life is good.