One of the questions I get asked frequently is what I miss most of the Netherlands.
And the longer I live in Maine, the harder it is to answer that question.
I miss my family, of course. But truth to be told, I don’t always miss the fact that I used to have to divide my Christmases between the parents and the in-laws, I don’t always miss the fact that I used to have to go to yet another birthday, graduation, special occasion, you name it.
The relation with the family has become more pure and honest and if you have only a few weeks every other year to enjoy each other, you don’t sweat the small stuff. This has made family relations (and friends) a lot less complicated.
The food is another thing. If you had asked me what I miss most the month after we moved, I could give you an extensive list of food items I missed. This list has become a whole lot shorter over nine years. Things I missed in the beginning have been somewhat forgotten and made place for things I eat here now. I have gotten used to not always having the ingredients I had in the Netherlands, but don’t even realize it anymore. Of course I miss Indonesian food, affordable good quality cheese, ‘kroketten’ and good coffee with a treat that isn’t made in rainbow colors and with artificial ingredients. But when we do go to the Netherlands, it is fun to eat the ‘forgotten deliciousness’ and I get to enjoy it better that way.
The spring in the Netherlands was something I always really enjoyed. It came a lot earlier than spring in Maine, but then again, winter in the Netherlands was often a drag: grey, cold, rainy, not enough frost to be able to enjoy it, snow never lasts. I am just fine with the seasons in Maine.
Recently I came upon a Buzz feed quiz (come on, don’t judge me: we all have moments like this, right!) ‘How Dutch are you’.
Of course I had to try it and it turns out I am not 100% Dutch!
Part of it has to do with the fact that I don’t bike everywhere. This is not because I have become lazy; I am just really loving my life and don’t want to get killed biking on Route 3. The circumstances of biking as form of transportation are very different here on the island.
I love to bike in the park, even though this is considered ‘recreational biking’. It is what it is.
The other parts of me that are apparently not so Dutch is the fact that I don’t use my middle finger, say swear words with diseases in them and that I am in general quite polite.
I am too polite to be a hundred percent Dutch!
After that initial shock it dawned on me that, indeed, every time we go to the Netherlands for a visit, we become aware of the fact that the Dutch aren’t as nice as I though they/we were. The rudeness starts at the airport: people giving you a death stare because you stop to look where you need to go, people not holding the door for you in the restrooms, shoving you aside when they need a paper towel without saying ‘sorry’. Once in the rental car, trying to navigate out of the busy streets around the airport, people honk, wave fingers, or just cut and swerve around me. “Hey, just give me a minute: it has been two year driving a standard!”
I guess it might be true: The Dutch ain’t much for being polite in public.
Why do the Dutch have swears with horrible diseases in it?
Why have the Dutch adopted every English swear word and use it all the time, even on post cards? (‘Shit, I forgot your birthday’)
Why is it so easy to use that middle finger?
Why don’t the Dutch clean up after themselves?
Leave trash on the table, leave their dog’s poo on the sidewalk and throw cigarette stubs on the ground?
It is kind of strange to think of my native country like this, and even more strange that I needed a Buzz feed quiz to find out about it.
Maybe my mildly mannered self feels a lot more like home on this slower paced island. I need to find a quiz ‘how Maine are you’.
You think I will have a 100% score?