In this passage from my book Of Many Lands, I recall the grief brought on by my departure from The Netherlands:
Holland was my land of soggy farm fields, of Van Gogh, of windmills thrumping in the wind and frigid winter walks by the sea. It is the place I attended a Victorian house of a school, where I fell off a fat pony three times in an hour, where I read seven Enid Blytons in a week. It is the place I tasted pure freedom, zooming around Wassenaar on my bike, and the place I learned I could play soccer as well as a boy. Holland is the place my mother wore her long, baggy raincoat and translated Dutch at a rug-covered table, and where my father rode to work on his bike. It is where I made a twelve foot gum wrapper chain, and where I ran for student council and lost because I was a girl. It is the place I first tasted the elixir of belonging to a crowd, and it is the site of my first kiss.
When I left Holland at age thirteen I wept all the way in the car to Le Havre. When the grief was finally spent, something in me was broken. It was the kind of fracture that hurts with the sharpest pain the first time around. Holland was my first broken heart.
Did your heart ever break when you left a place? Think of that place and the things you loved doing there. Then remember the feeling of leaving there. Describe both.
Originally posted Wednesday, May 22st, 2013