The overused and turned into cliche sentiment says that home is where the heart is; meaning home is where your loved ones are. To a great extent it is probably true but for me, home is the place you fall in love with, beyond the generic, sentimental, heartfelt emotional attachment that stems from the people you have allowed in your life. Of course, it is simply heart-warming to walk through your city and be able to associate different places with much fond memories and experiences. “Oh, this is the cafe where my best friend celebrated her birthday; here is the bar where I went on a first date with my significant other; in this bakery I remember how with a friend we were eating amazing cakes during a sunny but atrociously cold Saturday, etc, etc.” Of course, home is a lot about that…
But for me, home is more. As someone who moved miles away from the place I was born and grew up at, and came to a foreign and strange for me country, home has often been a state of mind that has more to do with the belonging to groups of people and my connection I had with them. However, after more than 4 years of living in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, home is shaping to have a whole new dimension — simply loving the place you live it for what it is, what it has to offer and the way it can surprise you (or steadfastly serve to you as expected).
Sometimes life gets so hectic and we tend to be so busy that often we forget to stop and have a look around. That’s why a week ago I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of fall in Amsterdam. I felt silly in my ignorance and guilty in my lack of attention to details. It was a day with perfect weather, I ended up cycling in the center, avoiding the very crowded streets, just enjoying the sun setting above the rooftops, the small charming streets going along the canals, the last rays reflecting in the windows and in the water; the trees are starting to turn yellow (and autumn is by far my favorite season), and at almost every bridge I had to stop and stare in awe at it all — the boats in the canals, the people enjoying their day, the ducks and swans who seemed undisturbed by everything that was going around, and the yellow trees, looking almost red from the setting sun.
And it hit it right then and there. At that moment I realised how much, how truly, madly and deeply I love this city. And this is a very different feeling of belonging, a very different way of feeling “at home”, which does not have to do by how happy you may or may not be in that place. But simply looking objectively at the place, and appreciating it for all that it is and all that it has to offer. And Amsterdam has so much to offer. Perhaps because I seldom have the time to go out these days, but seems like every place that I visti, turns out to be a little gem — be it a cosy, little 50’s style cafe where they make amazing hot chocolate and have a huge juke-box, or a simple diner with unsophisticated, but out-of-this-world delicious food. Or perhaps, it is my general positive disposition towards the city that makes me enjoy it so much. Of course, one of the benefits of living in a city as opposed to a small town, is that there is always somewhere new to go, something new to discover.
But it is more than the lack of boredom, more than the bustling entertainment, more than finding people you enjoy spending time with that make it home. It is being yourself, being accepted, being honest, keeping an open mind, and keeping your eyes open for all the small wonders around you. It is simply falling for a place for what it is — sometimes with its distance and coldness, other times with its charm, comfort and cosiness. Just like truly falling in love with a person, wthout passing judgement, simply accepting them and loving them for whom they are. But it is a place you always look forward to returning to, a place that makes you feel so right that you are not sure you have not dream