• Campbell Whitman

The Explanation

Updated: Jan 18


The story of why I stopped blogging last time and why I am starting one up again.

I really feel that in order to start this whole blog thing over again, I sort of, first need to finish with explaining how and why the last blog ended. In a way it might be like the closure one needs to a relationship they once had. Only mine was with my single self, living my dream in Paris that somehow managed to get both better and worse all at the same time after finding true love.


When I met Ivo in what can only be described as a true "happy accident" on what I think was a Saturday night, I didn't assume that 8 months later I would move to The Netherlands. I didn't expect that in us meeting at random, a relationship or better said a family would inevitably come apart. These aren't things people set out to do! And though I accepted that people would assume I was the devil, even though we did no such devilish things as one would assume, with the action of a kiss (that left me freaked out & running away down a long Parisian street close to sunrise) there was a reaction in a spark, that created a fire which could no longer be put out.


I had found that person who we all wish to find. The person I was meant to be with, who made me better, smarter, stronger, kinder and more thoughtful of myself and who I still wasn't finished growing up to be. Plus, upon meeting him I was even more inspired to write. And for those of you who paid attention, I wrote quite a lot!


Now, after the kiss at the end of the movie and the screen fades to black, that's usually when the real work begins. But my work was so much more stacked against me than others' new love beginning. I had to be accepted into a new family (who wasn't interested in me being a part of it at all), learn quickly how to be a step-parent of sorts to 2 small children, move to a new country I had only heard was fond of weed and prostitutes, new customs to get wrong, SHIT weather (that rained down more than I broke down in tears) and a new fucking language, which truly sounds like speaking while simultaneously hocking a loogie!


Needless to say it was not done with grace at all moments of the early journey, but add to that list, the people who rudely ignored us at gatherings and parties, the harassment, the horrible trash talked about me and messages of anger as well as stranger insults such as "You're just an ugly little white girl," I didn't get a great start in my new homeland.


Months did pass and I couldn't even rely on comfort food because the Dutch just don't really look at food in the way of enjoyment as much as simply "filling-your-stomach-to-fuel-further-work-farming-in-the-fields." So inspiration and comfort through my love of food as an eater as well as writing about it just evaporated.


It was quickly obvious I didn't fit-in with the Dutch way of life. Riding a bike in the snow was no match for the snow and doing anything in the drizzling, dropping, pouring and/or pounding rain proved very quickly to be an event with which I would gladly avoid. There were around 3 kinds of apples in every supermarket and only two kinds of potatoes; they are called "stay-together when cooked potatoes" or "fall-apart when cooked potatoes". I'm not kidding!!!! The Dutch were just too simple for me. Simplicity is the backbone of this society and I began to believe that too many options of anything makes Dutch people believe chaos could break out at any moment, thus avoided at all costs!


I very quickly got angry and eventually fits of rage would pop up in the middle of any normal activity, most commonly biking in the rain home after work. Later the anger turned to sadness, which in turn became straight-up depressed. Once that took over, I was truly lost. It just felt so bizarre. I was once so happy in Paris and when I met Ivo, I never thought after living your dream and finding your soulmate that things would go downhill from there. It seems ridiculous even thinking about it now...


But I began to analyze it, and I quickly came to the conclusion that maybe it was possible that because, from the outside it looked as if I "had it all" and with life being about balance shit, something had to give. Just maybe, because we found each other, a different aspect of our lives would be unsettled by our settling in together...


Anyway.....I moved forward as best I could.


With Ivo's help I found a job and it inspired me for a year or two. I found my first Dutch therapist who I think had less to say than I did and with little help from her, got over the first hump. People started trying to accept me in their lives, some still didn't at all, and after a year of living here, Ivo proposed. At a small gathering to drink a glass to celebrate our engagement, right in front of me, Ivo was grilled about why he didn't try harder to save his first relationship, which ended up being the straw that broke my Campbell's back. I decided then and there that I no longer would concern myself with the negativity these people around me brought into our lives. We went home and agreed that maybe some people didn't need to be in our lives until further notice.


So, really...like, really, how on earth was I supposed to write about the joy of food with all of this shit going on regularly? I honestly could barely get up and just be happy some mornings!


We got married anyway with maybe 5 Dutch people in attendance and that included a Dutch ex-pat who had lived in Texas for decades and whose American wife Ivo met on a train back from Germany (so that shouldn't count...in the way of "Dutchies") but it was a great day for those who attended. 6 months later we were pregnant and I saw people beginning to just let go of the issues they had with us being together in the first place, which was nice- seeing as it was only 3-plus years after we first met...(SARCASM!)


After that, with only a few bumps and one solid altercation along the way things just sorted themselves out I guess. I found a better therapist who really helped me see things through a different lens, which helped me focus my energy towards the good. After about a year of that, everything became much more clear...


I used to say moving here was the most difficult thing I ever had to do because it attacked me in every way possible. Then later I said, being a step-parent was actually the hardest thing I ever had to do which I discovered years after that was complete BULLSHIT, once I had my own children and realized just how much work it is to raise your own spawn! But being a step-parent has challenges that in ways, do not exist with biological children because they have a real mother or father that you can never break up with and move on from and maybe would or would not have chosen to date and procreate with in the first place. And furthermore, whenever your relationship with their real parent isn't good enough, neither will your relationship with your step-children. And that is something with which is not always in my control.


But we all co-exist now and there is genuine & true love amongst us and most of the time it works. Sometimes it doesn't, but that has nothing to do with anything except LIFE! And as my life grew onward and upward, I again realized something was missing. The inspiration that always fueled me in both appetite and creatively was still a void!


But the most interesting lesson from this whole story is in fact not what I just laid out before you. It's that after 8 plus years of living in Holland, I now realize so many of the things I detested about this country and that I felt made it difficult to fit in with society, ended up being what saved me!


These things later became surprising parts of myself that did end up fitting in with the Dutch after all ...


My directness, honesty and my acceptance of others who aren't like myself helps me thrive here! I always found it difficult in America to deal with the fakeness or vagueness people often gave in response to people, places or things and I had always wished everyone could just say what they mean. Magically here, THEY DO!


And in all honesty, the Dutch way of living a simple life has probably saved mine! The thought of being an American mom, spending hours driving around in a car everyday, listening to the pressures of other people on how to raise your kids, the judgement and trash-talking from "friends" can all add up pretty fast. Add that to the actual cost of living as well as the toll it must take on your sanity in comparison to this civilized, simplistic and socialized society which believes that what is best for all is better than what is best for 1, and I am sold on my simple life in Holland!


Living inside of the chaos that has surrounded me from the beginning while failing to thrive as well as now currently thriving while raising 4 kids, 2 cats and taking on an old dog, I feel certain that the simplicity has drowned out the insanity around me! It takes 2 minutes by bike to get to the nearest stores for almost everything you could possibly need, the kids are at school by bike or car in less than 5 minutes, our Doctor's office is less than 10 minutes by bike and my in-laws, who are a large miracle amongst all of this, live a stones throw away, even closer than school!


In the end, we came together for the love of family. And in the end we are better for it, all of us!


So now that I'm not broken anymore, the void has been obvious for some time now and it's time to move on to a new chapter. It's just that this one involves me, hopping back on the horse with two wheels while wearing a super awesome, expensive raincoat creating my own adventures involving yummy food along the way.


-Campbell