Every city I go to makes me want to move there forever. Amsterdam was no exception. What it lacked in warm weather it made up for in warm people (and delicious hot chocolate). I could go on and on about the adorable bridges and the beautiful flowers and the enchanting canals, but those are all things anyone can look up on Google Images.
Something you won’t find on the internet, though, is the feeling of sleeping on a houseboat on the Amstel River, which is exactly what I did. As I was making last minute plans, frantically searching Airbnb for a safe, cheap, centrally located place to stay, I stumbled upon a listing for a house boat. For under 70 Euro a night, it was a steal. Of course, there was no shower, the bedroom door didn’t lock, and the toilet had a pump flush, but it seemed to have a certain charm. So I set off to Amsterdam in hopes that my houseboat wouldn’t sink, or worse, float down the river in the middle of the night, abandoning me on the banks of a strange city, with no hopes of finding a way back to the Megabus stop. Fortunately, neither of those things happened (though a curious and heavy-footed stranger did jump onto the boat at 2:30 am and walked around until deciding it was really not a very interesting boat and climbing off again, much to my relief).
My adventure in Amsterdam, while short, made me realize something about myself: I want to call everywhere home. As it stands, I have called many places home: Ft. Lauderdale, Plantation, Baroda, Gainesville, and now, Brussels. But it’s never enough. This weekend, as I walked the charming streets of Amsterdam and watched the city lamps light up the river, I felt all the weight of the word ‘wanderlust.’ Until this point, it had just been a word I’d casually thrown around to describe myself. A little bourgeois, a little hipster, but mostly just the perfect hashtag for my Instagram posts. Now it means more to me. It describes the feeling of wanting to travel everywhere, yes, but it also describes the longing for a home in every country, the hunger for hearing new languages at every turn, the desperation for immersion in a new culture every weekend. No longer is ‘wanderlust’ synonymous with la vie boheme, an intangible and impossible way of life.
One of the most wonderful parts of living in Brussels is the frequency with which I can go off to new countries, new cities, new cultures. Too soon, the day will come when I have to pack my things and return to America, where people don’t live like that, where people don’t have the vacation days to leave their offices and find themselves. I hope, though, that when I return, I will take time to explore my own backyard. I hope that I will find the adventure that inevitably waits just beyond my comfort zone. I hope that, even though I can’t travel to a new country every weekend, I can still keep the wanderlust spirit I have grown to love.