One of us moved here for work. The other followed for love.
We didn’t exactly leave Belgium knowing where we were going or anything more than what Hollywood had been showing us for years.
We heard stories, of course. Like how the Pacific Northwest might be the most “European” part of the US. With Dutch-looking tulip fields, German-inspired Bavarian towns, a plethora of French and Italian restaurants, and neighborhoods called Newcastle or Beaux Arts; it’s easy to understand how it could seem European.
We also did some research on the “Rainy City”. Only to realize it rains 30% more in Brussels than in Seattle, and that our country can fit 6 times in the Washington state – even if Belgium has a bigger population.
But it’s only until we actually moved here that we realized everything the region had to offer – and not only as inspiration for vampire stories and sitcoms.
Coming from Brussels – a European capital that feels more like a big village – we landed in Bellevue Downtown. All the benefits of a city, but the peace and quiet of a town. Everything is at walking distance. Especially all the restaurants that we, foodies, still have a long list of to try out. And just one bridge away: the “big sister” city, Seattle, with even more delicacies to offer.
Every time we cross that bridge, we are reminded of one of the things we love the most about our new home: nature. State and National parks, mountains and resting volcanos, ski resorts and hiking tracks, the Pacific Ocean and the Puget Sound lakes… all opened for more beauty to see and new stories to tell. Coming from a small, flat and densely-populated European country with roads originally built for horses, the grid-like large avenues joining immense glass towers into cities surrounded by vast natural untouched spaces make us feel part of something big.
So, is the PNW our new home? Tricky question.
When we’re in Washington, “I’m going Home” means “I’m going back to the apartment in Bellevue”. And “back home” can mean “back in Europe”. And when we’re in Europe, “home” could refer to Bellevue, or to our childhood home where our parents still live. Can we have more than one home? Perhaps. Maybe we can have as many homes as we have stories to tell from places where we lived. Our childhood friends and our family are back home – in Europe. Our favorite restaurant – where we got married – is also back home – in Belgium. Our go-to cinema is walking distance from home – in Bellevue. The theatre we went to for our last musical is one drive away – in Seattle. Our dog waits for us all day long at home – in Bellevue. And the Mount Rainier is now part of the scenery when we drink cocktails with friends on our rooftop at home – in Bellevue. What makes it home are the feelings and memories that anchor that place to a specific part of our life. Where, whenever I tell one of my stories, I’ll relate it to that specific point in space. It’s more than an address on a USCIS form or ID card. It is a reference for a significant part of our life.
So, for now, home is Bellevue. Home is the Pacific Northwest. Home is the US. Home is Europe. Home is Belgium. Home is Brussels… Home is where, at one point in our life, something truly mattered. Or where something will.
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