An American Couple in Delft
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The End of Our European Road

So this is it. All good things have to come to an end and so it is with our European odyssey. Our stuff is being packed and itís all over but the achiní back on the ride home. But what a ride itís been.

In 1968 or so, an Australian group called The Seekers recorded a song called "I Hear the Music of the World A-Turniní" The lyrics are here and you can listen the song here. One line thatís repeated throughout is, "You can have music wherever you go." Lynn and I have heard that music loud and clear everywhere and itís been an amazing symphony. When I reread some of the pieces that are included here, it seems as though we liked everything. Thatís really true, we did. Certainly there were some places we liked more than others but we found the music everywhere. From the time I was a kid, I wanted to see London, Paris, and Sydney, and now, at least regarding the first two, we are well-acquainted with them and the music from them will live with us always. These are places that I had always hoped to see but now weíve been to places that we had never even considered like Prague, Istanbul, Vienna, Singapore and a whole lot more.

One of the joys weíve had is being able to see Europe through the eyes of the kids. Unfortunately, Aaron was never able to make it but Bruce came a few times, once alone, once with his girlfriend and once with a longtime friend from childhood, and my nephew Josh came once with his dad, my brother Joel. The young folks didnít all have a whole lot of international travel under their belts and we think that what they saw and heard opened up new possibilities for them that they may not have otherwise considered.

The experience of living here has changed us in ways we that donít even know yet. We have a friend, mentioned earlier, who told us that from his experience, we would have a more difficult adjustment coming back than we did going. At the time, this was difficult to understand but it no longer is. Coming to live in a foreign country, one knows that everything will be different so one is prepared to have to adjust. But going home, at the time, seemed to be a piece of cake. We would be returning to a place that was familiar, with ways there were familiar. What we didnít think about then, but has become apparent now, is that the place may be the same, and the ways may be the same, but we are different. For example, we are overwhelmed by the enormity of choices in American supermarkets. We have a hard time with the amount of space taken up to support cars. We are already saddened to think that there is a paucity of outdoor cafes to just sit, have a beer, converse, and watch the world go by. More than anything, we have learned that while itís great to be an American, there are plenty of others who are just as proud and happy to be whatever it is they are. There will be other things, Iím sure, that we havenít even thought of yet.

While it has been an incredible experience, we know itís time to come home, home to the Cradle of Liberty and the Birthplace of the Nation. Home is the place that when you go there, they gotta let you in. Home is where the heart is. For us, home is Philadelphia. We know that we may never return to some of the places weíve been, but still weíve been to those places, theyíve left their imprint, and the memories and the pictures will always remain with us.

At the beginning of the movie Field of Dreams, Ray, the main character, talks about his background and says at the end of the opening monologue, "But until I heard the voice, Iíd never done a crazy thing in my whole life." Moving to Europe probably counts as a crazy thing and itís certainly the craziest thing we ever did. And maybe the best. This isnít to suggest that every single day was a fantastic adventure because it wasnít. Through the dreary Delft winters, the sun would rise at almost 9 a.m. and set before 5 p.m. and the rain is constant. At night there wouldnít be much to do but read books and we did a lot of that. We also got to know each other much better and that has been priceless. All in all, I really canít imagine how it could have been much better. We lived in a town almost a thousand years old, in a beautiful house about 470 years old so even when there was no external excitement, it was always great just being here.

So there it is. Weíll see you soon on the left side of the pond where weíll be able to read everything on a menu, choose from 500 different kinds of cereal instead of ten, and watch American football. Now, though, about the only thing left to do is pack our basket, climb into the hot-air balloon, click our heels three times, and say over and over, "Thereís no place like home."

   
 

 

© 2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008