Netherlands
Sep 03 2018

Edit: I wrote this text in Sep 2018 (and only made it visible in June 2020). I have since finished a critical memoir as my Master’s thesis. I realize that so much of the memoir was seeded from this text.


Being here is a demarcation in time.

I was born into a working class family during the post-Cultural-Revolution, early-economic-reform China.*

I would not know anything about my family until many years later, after I left the country for the United States.

I studied architecture and geography in the US, then worked full-time as a web designer at a company that visualized geographic and statistical data for organizations like the UNDP. I learned how to program through that job. It gave me the skills to become the technologist-in-residence at a graduate school of journalism three years later.

I moved from DC to New York. During the day, I had my job. At night, I wrote plays.

In 2016 I completed my first full-length play.

The same year I left the US indefinitely, as the third visa in my nine years of living there expired.

I moved to Mexico.

Etc.

This life seems hard to believe when I try to tell it with selected geographies, names and institutions.

Such historiography.

Being here is a demarcation in time.

I have been in Rotterdam for a month. I rent a bike from Swapfiets and go to Gimsel for bulk foods (it’s the only place I have found in town that offers bulk foods). The outdoor markets are bigger than I imagined. They remind me of the tianguis in Mexico, but instead of tortillas, I get aged cheese.

I am yet to register at the municipality. It is September; the room I find is only available from October 1st. Time for limbo. I do not yet have a BSN, and thus no bank account or phone subscription. I use a pay-as-you-go SIM, switching on the mobile data only when I need to check a message.

I’ve seen Mirla and Olaf, my Dutch friends, in Amsterdam three times. Soon they are going back to where they consider home now. In Chile.

I read a book by a Dutch author who wrote it in English. It reads rather stiff.

The yoga teacher I had in Mexico is Dutch. She spends summer in Amsterdam and, when it turns grey like this, she returns to the coast of Oaxaca.

She says, “in Europe people spend so much time in the head.”

She says, “if you ride a lot of bikes, you are tight around the hips.”

I biked in the wind the other day. It nearly knocked me over.

I have not felt my body for quite some time. I am still getting used to the weather.


* I have been fact-checking this, both through reading about that period of history (thank you, internet) and talking with my family members. It turns out my family history is complex and nuanced. For example, “working class” here deserves unpacking and context. I have started to articulate that in my thesis. This text remains somewhat based on memory and therefore, partial.

lemony.space

lemony.space@gmail.com