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Finally writing about Nijmegen

October 2004—

I've been in Nijmegen the Netherlands for most of a year. I've found it very difficult to write anything about it. The experience, I mean.

I came here on the 15th of August, 2003, to be with K_, whom I met in Ireland earlier that Summer.

I moved into a very small student room with K_. We lived in this room together until March 2, 2004. I went to Ireland then, but on the 16th of April I came back. We lived here together again until mid-Summer. I say "here," because this is the room, where I sit. I say "small" because the room is 3 meters square.

K_ and I love and hate each other now. We split up, officially, some time ago, some time after she'd moved out of here. We have seen each other nearly every day, even so. There have been times when I've needed to see her, even when I didn't want to. It's hard to understand; more importantly, it's hard to handle, for both of us. Fight and forgive. We've been highly interdependent. Never seen anything like it.

This last week, I thought about returning to America. I was serious. K_ cried but accepted it, and asked if she could come see me next Summer. She had plans for my sofa, too. I contacted friends and family in my country.

I realized:

• Several friends were quick and inviting with their responses to my emails. That was encouraging. The problem is, I wouldn't know where to go, to be near friends. Very American, they live in dispersed locations. Seattle has a certain friend-proximity "weightedness." Seattle for me is a dangerous place, though, emotionally. I was very depressed when I lived there in the late 90's, and I fear that spectre. Or, I feel it.

• My family didn't exactly beg me to return. I can't blame them.

• If I went to America, I could work legally; but I don't like to work anyway. Work is part of the cycle of depression, for me. That's just being honest, and I only have to remember sleeping in my car there in Seattle. That was no adventure; that was a failure of interest.

If I returned to America, what then? More dumb jobs? I wouldn't even have the right to health insurance nor to any other form of social assistance, as a citizen of the U.S. What's the advantage of being legal? Easier to get a shit job.

• But I don't know if I can leave K_. That's the reason I want to stay in Holland. It doesn't matter how I say it. For her good, or for mine? Not a valid question. "Can't leave" means "can't leave," and I don't know whether or not I can.

To stay in Nijmegen, I will have to pull something out of the fire. I have some ideas. I'm working enough to eat well. The rent is not high.

I don't know if I can stay here, but I don't have an exit plan, and I don't know if I can leave.

  — 15 October 2004, Nijmegen the Netherlands