Day 9: “Hier woont Luca.” We officially exist.
It’s not just 10-year olds who need recognition, attention and acceptance.
It’s one thing to be registered by the county (and country), live there legally, administratively, on paper and digitally. But it’s quite another when you realize that other people know you’re there.
The neighbor kids have acknowledged our existence.
We’ve been here for 9 days. There are IKEA manuals everywhere. We don’t know which days are for which trash and plastic and green and paper bins (yes, there are 4). I don’t know my own phone number by heart (not even close).
But for all practical purposes, we have now been officially welcomed. Our house has been christened not unlike an ocean liner smashing a bottle of champagne on its bow in the hands of the mayor.
This is from a series of posts on our move across the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe, specifically, Driebergen, a small town in the center of The Netherlands. More at Driebergen Life.
I was upstairs in our bedroom, which faces the street, when I heard a group of girls chatting out front. One of them, who seemed to be doing something of a tour of the neighborhood, said, “Hier woont Luca.” (This is where Luca lives.)
It happened so quickly, I didn’t quite understand what was going on. But when I peeked out the window, I saw three 10-year old-ish girls standing in front of our house on the street. Although she didn’t mean to, this little girl acknowledged that my son is a known entity. She took the time to drag her friends around the corner to show them where her new friend Luca now lives. She said it out loud and had I had an audio sensory security system up, I might have caught (and saved) the recording to prove that we are real, that we really live there, that my son goes to school and has made friends.
Yes, we exist in the national register of inhabitants. Even I, the only one in the family without a Dutch passport, will soon be legal with a residence permit. We get mail addressed to us.But this little girl knows that Luca lives here. This might not make rational sense, but this is bigger than any stamp, citizen registry or mail address. She even wanted to tell her friends.
It gets better.
I went downstairs and while in the kitchen, the three girls were now out in front of the kitchen window. They then came to the door. The nerve! The gall! What are they thinking? Who are these strangers and what are they doing almost in my kitchen?
“Can we pet Pepper?” the leader asked. I had to explain that he wasn’t there because he was with Luca’s mother.
“Can we come in to play with Luca?” she asked.
Dear readers, in the 10 years of Luca’s glorious life, there have been a grand total of zero girls who:
- came by the house,
- knew his name and
- asked to come in.
Of course they could come in.
They even managed to get Luca (and his other brand new friend who was over) to get up from the video game they were playing and promise to come out and play “Buskruit” (some game with a ball in the middle of the street). But before they left, I managed to get all three of their names and offer them a slice of a quesadilla. Turns out they’re all in his class and one even sits next to him. She seemed pretty pleased about that.
Leader girl had 3 slices of quesadilla and promised to come back soon to see if Pepper was home and to make sure to send Luca out because he promised to play Buskruit and to get out of the house.
No immigration official, no postal employee and not even the mayor of the town could have made me feel more welcome and acknowledged as this little girl did in her happy-go-lucky and could-I-please-have-another-slice-of-that-whatever-you-called-it please way.
Yes, Luca lives here. He’s real and we’re really here. Now it’s official. Come on over for a quesadilla and Pepper will meet you at the door.