Fears, doubts, inspirations and pink Cadillacs

I may have made some mistakes. But isn’t there some sort of saying about life being about taking risks, making a mess of things, and somehow coming out on top – or happier – or wiser – or some shit like that? If not, such a saying should exist.

I was in the U.S. for a couple of months a little while ago. I traveled quite a bit while there, getting to see lots (though not all) of the important people, including my Mom. It was at my Mom’s when I started to have some doubts about returning to Amsterdam. In a safe refuge where I was fed, emotionally supported, and understood the language spoken, I wondered if it was time to close the chapter and wrap up the fantasy of living in the Netherlands.Perhaps all signs were directing me back to a stable and U.S.-based reality.

Fortunately, Mom disagreed, encouraging me to get back to the city I chose for myself. Never mind the lack of finances, the lack of housing, the fledgling status of my organization, and – if we’re really getting into it – the lack of love prospects. I shouldn’t stay where I don’t want to be (the U.S.) for fear of what might (not) happen in the Netherlands. I embraced the advice and used my return ticket.

I had a brief layover in Philadelphia (my hometown) before my flight to Amsterdam. In spite of my nerves, I danced my way to the plane. I mean, literally. Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love” pumped through the terminal. I took it as a sign. There I was in my first home, about to “ride on the freeway of love in my pink Cadillac” on the way to my new home. Well, it made sense at the time.

Hours later, I was at the Schipol airport, handing over my passport for inspection. And as I’ve heard so many times before, the immigration guy asked, “What brings you to the Netherlands?” Hm. I used the excuse of an exhausted throat-clearing to delay my response. But I just didn’t have an answer. I almost wanted to say, “a bad habit?”

Fortunately for me and my 3x-cleared throat, he had already leafed through my passport to find my residence permit pasted on one of the pages. He pleasantly interrupted my non-response, “Oh, you live here!” Followed by what might have been the most sheepish “yes” I’ve ever spoken.

So I’m back in Amsterdam, living in the Netherlands. While I still spend time on keeping my organization afloat, I’m mostly coping with the consequences of the risks I took to get me to this point (i.e. burning my savings to start a nonprofit and maybe positively affect some people). I’m staying with a friend, looking under rocks for income, and yearning for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Scary as hell? Absolutely. Surmountable? Uh, I think so. I’m encouraged by the stories of brave entrepreneurs who explain that having an empty bank account and sleeping in someone else’s house are prerequisites to success. And I’m inspired by my love for Amsterdam. If I can still be happy here through the stressful times, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

Never you mind the exit signs
We got lots of time
We can’t quit till we get
To the other side

With the radio playin’ our song
We keep rollin’ on
Who knows how far a car can get
Before you think about slowin’ down

We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love
Wind’s against our back
We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love
In my pink Cadillac


2 thoughts on “Fears, doubts, inspirations and pink Cadillacs

  1. Great post! Keep pushing Dana! You have your whole life to return back to doing something “regular” if you so choose. And Yay for Mrs. Arenda for being brave too and supporting your dream:)


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