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Visiting my family for the first time since the pandemic started

Posted on Aug 10, 2021 by

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It finally happened: the long-awaited trip, the one I was waiting for since the pandemic started, the visit to Romania to see family and friends! I just came back a few days ago, and I’m still pinching myself to make sure it was real. The worst part of the pandemic, for expats, was that we weren’t able to travel and meet our families. I was determined to go this summer, even if it would have meant I needed to enter quarantine. Luckily, I could get the vaccine and I could go to Romania without the quarantine obligation, even if the Netherlands was back in the red zone by the time of my flight.

Everything about this trip was weird: the empty Schiphol airport, which looked like a haunted place, the plane ride (I forgot how much I hate landings), the cold I got which left me coughing the whole time while in Romania, and, especially, seeing everyone after so long! The visits to my home country were always difficult for me, because of the complex mix of feelings they bring about, but this time it was worse. While I knew it’s been a long time, I couldn’t actually comprehend that I missed from their lives for almost two years, that I hadn’t seen them live or touched them for such a long time. This visit was emotional times ten. We gathered and had big meals together; we celebrated my upcoming birthday, with a surprise cake and and gifts, we laughed and cried together, and it was as it should be. I’m still wrapping my head around all the feelings I dealt with during this trip.

Because I caught a cold (just a regular one, the Corona test was negative), I changed my plans of visiting people, and spent most of the time in my mom’s garden. My favourite part was having coffee in the morning among the roses and morning glory, listening to birds singing.

Roses in the morning light
Roses in the morning light 02
Roses in the morning light 03
Tomatoes

The mornings were also cooler, because later in the day the temperature was going up to 41 degrees Celsius (and probably more). I was there during a heat wave, and I suffered from the heat every day. My Dutch-weather-adjusted-body complained about the heat, but there was nothing I could do except eat refreshing watermelons and drinking tones of water. I was spoiled with fruits and vegetables from our garden (OMG the tomatoes!) and I visited the fields of my childhood, one of my favourite things to do whenever I have the chance.

Fields
Wild flowers Romania

Regarding the pandemic, it surprised me how everyone was so relaxed, like there was no Covid situation, no risks lurking around. It’s true that the Delta variant is only now making its way to Romania, and people were fully vaccinated months ago and want to party and live normal lives as much as they can. I spent only one evening in Bucharest and was amazed by the partying that was going on in the old city centre till late in the night. At least Romania is on the green list and they were wearing masks indoors, which Dutch people don’t do anymore, even if the Netherlands is on the red list.

There were some things that upset me during this trip, but life is as it is, with goods and bads. I left Romania feeling at peace, even if the situation I left behind in my family was not all pink. This serenity came probably because something I wished for so long finally happened, and because I feel like we will go back to seeing each other more regularly, now that the vaccine exists. I felt I got back a piece of me that was missing and also that I am once again a piece of their lives, more real than in the past two years. We slowly start to fade if we are not present, physically, in someone’s life. Even if we see each other on the screen and talk and chat all the time. We become an almost a virtual friend, cousin, child. We need that physicality to keep our place in people’s life, and for them to be in ours.

Now I’m back in the Netherlands and adjusting to the life I have here, which seemed so far away during my holiday. I have a lot of work to do and many things planned, but I’ll do them with more enthusiasm, since I feel I am back to normal, at least for the moment.

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