Tholen, Zeeland, The Netherlands (2017)
First a little backstory: this spring I got to revisit Tholen, Zeeland, the town in the Netherlands where my father was born and raised. My dad lived there until the age of 25, when he immigrated to the United States. He is the only one from his family that immigrated, so my dad’s entire family still lives in the Netherlands. It’s a rare and wonderful time when we can visit—and especially wonderful the most recent time since my entire family went together.
But it’s also a tad bit depressing when I realize that there really is a whole other side to my life and family that I can’t easily experience everyday, all because of my dad’s decision to leave this place. But of course, I wouldn’t exist without my dad’s decision to uproot himself. He wouldn’t have met my mom, for one. So it’s a staggering thought to me now (especially now that I am older than 25) that he uprooted himself at that young age, with just a hope and an expectation of finding opportunity or a different life in America. So I am—as he is—extremely proud of the roots that he and my family have grown in America, but it is like being from two places at once.
Tholen has two windmills. One is named De Hoop, which means “The Hope,” and the other is named De Verwachting, which means “The Expectation.” One day on our trip, we climbed up inside De Verwachting, and what’s neat is that you can see from one to the other across the orange tiled roofs of Tholen, where I captured this picture. The symbolism of the two windmills and their names was not lost on me: the thought of uprooting and rooting yourself puts a lot of stake in hopes and expectations and how decisions arising from those hopes and expectations play out over a lifetime.