I won't go into the details, but suffice to say that heartbreak is heartbreak, whether or not you are surrounded by beautiful canals, gorgeous architecture and have easy access to some very fine cheese. In part I lost the will to share positive things about life here, so just stopped posting. Had I not done so then I might have had to rename this blog 'The Dark Life', and it would have been a very sour read.
So then, what's the point of this (slightly maudlin) post? Why do I even feel the need to mention any of this? There IS a reason, I promise, bear with me. I said that heartbreak is the same, no matter where you are and I believe that's true. But what is also the same is that such times of darkness usually provide you the opportunity to realise just how incredible your friends are, and how very lucky you are. I'm grateful to all of mine, more than they will ever know. But I want to just say a few words about my Dutch friends in particular. I feel blessed that besides the easy expat friendships I have made (where you're bound together by virtue of being 'strangers' to the city), I can count a number of locals as good friends. Something I love about the Dutch approach to life is the practicality and all round 'sensibleness' of it. As a not very sensible person this provides me with something to aspire to and also reap the benefit of. In matters of the heart the approach is no different, but far from being told told that I should just 'get on with it' as I might have expected, the advice, sympathy and compassion I received from friends and colleagues alike was incredible. I was allowed to talk (and talk), told not to ignore emotions but let them come (even the soggy, snotty and ugly ones), and reminded constantly that I was strong and brave. Alongside this I also received some extremely practical and motivating advice of course, not too much moping allowed! This particular mix of wonderful support and sensible suggestion was common to all my Dutch girlfriends, so I believe this to be something about the culture or attitude here. Not long ago I read a slightly patronising article about 'How to make friends with a Dutch woman' which made it seem like a difficult feat. It might be tricky for the many who work in ex-pat populated offices and don't get the opportunity to mingle. But I would say if you make an effort, finding good Dutch friendships here is not so difficult, and Dutch women are no different to the rest of us - although they're much better at saying what they want and can rock a pair of white jeans like nobody else. Before my ex-pat friends feel utterly offended and rejected, I would also say that I've been on the receiving end of some stunning acts of goodwill and excellent advice, and been allowed to wet the shoulders of a good many non-Dutchies, so I thank you too.
So, back to some (hopefully) more useful posts - I think there will be something about house buying (yes!), maybe tax office wrangling or language issues and of course some good suggestions on where to fill your face or unwind and relax.
My tip for today - nothing bolsters a sad heart more than an early Sunday morning bike ride through the canals, I can only imagine it would make a happy heart soar!