Here I am, at Lowlands (our biggest festival in the Netherlands) with my little brother by my side. Together we listen to the beautiful and melancholic music of the Dutch band ‘Spinvis’. The words that are sung go straight to my heart, all the more because they are sung in Dutch. As if they were meant, just for me. I’m back. I am back home after three years of cycling. And even though I had been back ‘on a visit’ before, this time it was different.
From Georgia and Armenia my journey had been all about cycling home. After traversing Turkey from east to west, which is still a gigantic task compared to the smaller distances of the following countries, I reached the Balkans and cycled in and out a country almost every other day. As if it was a piece of cake. We were unstoppable. Over the Dolomites, the Alps, the Eifel and the Ardennes we climbed our last peak, just to find that long-awaited descent that allowed us to cycle into the Netherlands at full speed.
I took a deep breath. There was a sense of recognition that was so unique and exceptional that it touched me deep inside. This was new. I recognize the smell, I understand the language. The air, the people. I know how it works here, I understand it. I am at home. This is where I belong.
There is a woman walking down the street with her dog, I greet her with a ‘good evening‘ in Dutch, and she greets me back with the same words. A man passes by with his horse and his cart and he looks around. ‘So’ he says; ‘you guys are heavy packed!’, ‘yes’ I say with a big laugh, ‘we come from far‘.
And it is such a bizarre and indescribable feeling. It’s in no way like taking a flight. All those kilometers that you have traveled on your own power. That huge distance that became smaller and smaller each day. It is the world that slowly shows its forms like you know them. It’s life like you know it before you went on this big journey to discover life lived elsewhere. It is life as it’s lived here … It is the world as you know it, as if it is flat after all, and that the Netherlands is the very center of it. It is as if … gravity suddenly falls back in its right place. As if you can finally take a breath of fresh air again, on familiar soil, and can say, ‘we made it!’
I am home.
For most people, Lowlands will be the excellent surrounding to completely lose yourself. To get out of your own familiar bubble, to discover the sounds, the feelings, the grooves, to get touched, to get moved! It’s wild and unpredictable. It’s a festival. For me though, Lowlands was quite the opposite this year. It was the perfect place to feel more rooted than ever in our Dutch soil, especially with my little brother by my side. After I had put my arms around my friends and family, met the family of Luke, had seen how little children of my friends had become bigger children, how my baby-niece had become a little girl… For me that enormous washing machine of emotions and impressions was already undertaken at full speed. Here at Lowlands I felt peaceful and calm in my mind. For me it was the place par excellence, where I realized with a laugh and a tear, what the value is of coming back and being here. Even though, we all know, that I am about to be going again…
Because I may be home,
but my journey is not over yet.
Thank you all very much, for being there, for the laughs and tears we have shared.
Until next time.