Apr 2, 2014

Stay or Go?

Definitely two years, three years at most. 

That's how long we said we would live here. Two years for sure, no more than three. It's funny how, at the time, three years seemed like an eternity. I never would have thought that it wouldn't be nearly long enough.

We've been in Amsterdam for two years and eight months, and now it's decision time: stay in Amsterdam for one more year, or move back to the US (mostly likely right back into our old house). The good news is that it is almost entirely up to us. The bad news is that it is almost entirely up to us.

Making quick, good decisions is not a life skill I've mastered yet.

For months this has been weighing on my mind, and I've been jotting down little reasons to stay or go as they come to me, hoping to stumble upon The Magic Thing that will decide everything so I can get some sleep at night. Or at least so I can lie awake worrying about other decisions.

Here's what I've come up with so far, in no particular order.

Reasons to stay in Amsterdam:

  • 5 weeks paid vacation 
  • travel opportunities 
  • wonderful friends we've made here
  • cousins in England
  • neighborhood shopping (the nearest store takes me 90 seconds to walk to)
  • good Dutch schools
  • Hema, my little European Target
  • 1 more year of Dutch for kids (since they will probably never speak it again)
  • children are statistically happiest in The Netherlands (US ranks 26 out of 29 countries by the way)
  • Belgian waffles at the grocery store for .79 cents
  • boating on the canals
  • Dutch cheese shops
  • best playgrounds ever
  • The Nine Streets, Spui, Tuschinsky Theater, Vondelpark, Van Gogh Museum
  • tipping is more or less optional
  • stupid US politics
  • fresh mint tea
  • fries with mayo (it's just better here)
  • there are opportunities for me that are just starting to open up (writing, possibly starting travel blog...)
  • could be advantageous to have one more year with Mark's current company
  • we might never be able to do anything like this again

Reasons to go back to the US:

  • Craigslist 
  • family close by
  • wonderful friends we miss there
  • curbside recycling
  • free public libraries, all in English (with the tax rate here, it is a CRIME that anyone has to pay for library memberships)
  • Costco Mango Salsa (without which my life is incomplete)
  • Target
  • solid deodorant 
  • Lake Washington, Burke-Gilman Trail, Mt. Rainier, ferry rides on Puget Sound
  • having a yard for the kids (and they're old enough to do yard work now)
  • education in English for kids (so I don't have to play Grammar teacher each Summer)
  • TV: Parks and Recreation, Community, Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
  • Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
  • my slow cooker 
  • 40 minute wash cycles
  • root beer
  • national parks/wilderness
  • camping/ hiking
  • mail and paperwork in English
  • being able to understand people talking around me
  • financially responsible thing to do
  • time to move on to whatever is next?

Of course, it's more complicated than all that, and the decision will probably be determined by important things like "logic" and "money" and "Cafe Rio." But because I can't handle complexities and nuance, I like to imagine that it all comes down to fresh mint tea vs root beer.

People who are good at making decisions would probably say that imagination and sugary beverages shouldn't have much weight in major life decisions. To those people I say, so Reeses Peanut Butter Cups vs Belgian waffles then?

This is why I'm terrible at decisions. 


Debbie Reber said...

I'm a big fan of pro con lists... had three poster board-sized, color-coded lists when we were deciding between staying in LA or moving to SF or Seattle. Ultimately, while the lists were helpful, it was our gut that made the decision and noticing how we felt when we imagined actually living in each of the three places.

John said...

You forgot a few things.
- A dryer.
- Not sharing a bathroom with your children.
- Peanut butter M&M's
Also, since Washington changed their law, access to marijuana is no longer an issue, right?

Noel Falk said...

I feel your struggles. But, what I have learned with my experiences is to never to say never. Whatever you do…you'll feel better after the decision has been made - no matter what you do. We'll either meet you camping next summer, or the summer after that!

Bardsleyland said...

Debbie, sounds like I need to hire you to make me some color-coded lists. :)

John, essentials for sure, except that not sharing a bathroom with the kids is cancelled out by the pain of cleaning more than one bathroom.

Karla said...

The first two on your pros list would make the decision for me! Not to mention your possible work as a writer/travel blogger. A year will fly by! Living one more year without Target or Costco salsa will make you a stronger person.

Arnold Stovall said...

Isn't there a squid or something that makes these important decisions for us? Or is that just for elections and sporting outcomes?


What do your kids think? Once you make a decision let us know. We are hoping to see you in August one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

I vote you renounce your US citizenship and live on a yacht.

ScottHeff said...

I really struggle with big decisions like this. I feel your pain. Of course, we would love to have you back and close. I mean, really close.

Aimee taught me a trick. Flip a coin to make your decision for you. When it lands, you'll either get a twinge of, "Aw, man" or "Yes! That's what I secretly wanted." Your reaction to the coin toss brings what you really want deep down to the surface.

Also, Cafe Rio will be 10 minutes away.

Anonymous said...

I visited WA for the first time in 2012. Since then I have been eyeing jobs there. Our dilemma would be pretty close to yours, very hard call. But since you pkan on going back *some day* anyway, I would enjoy Europe for another year. Just my 2 (Euro) cents, good luck! Ailsa

Unknown said...

So I came across a list just the other day where we made a matrix trying to decide between staying in DC, moving abroad or moving to Boulder, CO. I live in Utah now, so that totally worked out for me. So I have everything you have on your pro list for living in the US, but sometimes I'd rather not be able to understand what all the women on the playground were actually saying. In fact, I think I'd probably give up Cafe Rio forever to have a normal conversation again. I'm not sure how that's supposed to help you, but I can promise you this -- you will have MAJOR culture shock moving back to the US after being gone so long - no matter when you move back. This can't be an easy decision!! Good luck!

Aimee said...

A couple things.

I was at what Cash calls "The Blue Park" on Monday by your house and I was thinking about what possible playground you were playing on to put this one to shame. It made me happy for your kids.

Also I have some really sad news for you. Part of me doesn't even want to type it.... Recently Costco changed their Mango Salsa formula or something. It is just not the same. We've been having a really hard time embracing the new recipe. So you might just want to stay for that reason alone.

But Cafe Rio will be here in like 2 weeks so there is that too.

Such hard decisions!
Selfishly I want you in my backyard again.
But realistically I think you should stay. What a fun adventure it has been.

Everything is exactly the same here and will be the same whenever you return.

Regardless, a big party will be awaiting you upon your arrival.

Anonymous said...

Oh, won't you stay just a little bit longer?
Oh, please stay just a little bit long.
Well your mama don't mind,
And your daddy don't mind,
So take a little time before you leave it all behind,
And stay one more year!

Dad and Mom

Bardsleyland said...

Aimee, nooooooooo! Why would Costco mess with perfection?? I feel so betrayed. But thank you for being honest. :)
We always called it the blue park too, mostly because I was always afraid of accidentally calling it Foreskin park. Can't believe you guys are playing there without us!

Dad and Mom, you guys are adorable. Thanks for your blessing.

And everyone, thank you for being awesome.

claireb said...

Donna! Haven't I told you about Tomatillo yet? Hands down, tons better than Cafe Rio. It's on Overtoom. You must check it out. But don't let me know how well you liked it... I'll just drool if you do.

Oh... and good luck with that decision making. It's a hard one, for sure. Especially now that the weather has been beautiful in the last year due to my departure. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

If financially possible, I vote for stay one year longer and complete your Dutch bucket list. There is no time like now to cross those items off! A year goes by so fast! Good luck either way! Jolene

Meg said...

Donna, I miss you. You will make the right decision! You are so great. Bardsleyland is the only blog I read. Haha.

Valarie said...

It's true. Costco changed mango salsa vendors. Go ahead and scratch that one off your list.

Tamkara said...

Hey, I discovered your blog today from Farrah's blog post. This means, the universe is telling you to stay! :-)