I took today’s picture in Utrecht earlier this week. It’s one of my favourite bridges. I remember canoeing around this area when I lived here, always having the best time on the water. Spending the last two days in Utrecht made me realise how much I miss living this city. It’s not the pavements that are unbearable when you’re wearing high heels. It’s not the construction site a.k.a new train station in the making. It’s not every little street that looks like a fairy tale on its own or the markets with fresh flowers, fish and vegetables. What I really miss about Utrecht is the bridges.
When I moved to Utrecht five years ago, I didn’t know that much about that place. Unlike many other Dutch students, I moved into my dormitory not knowing what to expect from living on my own. I had to get used to stopping at traffic signs when biking around. There was always dishes lying around that were not mine, yet in desperate need of cleaning. But I fell in love with this place very soon. Not just with the actual pretty bridges like the one on the picture, but the bridges that I formed with people.
Some of the friendships that I formed over my years in Utrecht are among the most important ones in my life. Living in Utrecht formed bridges to some of the most valuable memories that I have. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been the same now, if I would have moved to a different place years back. I probably wouldn’t love Utrecht as much as I do now and I most certainly would not have met the people that brought me to new places and in new worlds.
Then I left. Moved to a different country. Found other places, met knew people. Yet I still consider this place my home. The city where I learned to reach out for new opportunities and create lasting friendships. When I am back once in a while and have to time to stroll through the small city streets, I look at all those little tiny bridges. If you are living in Utrecht, you probably cross them every day. Or anywhere else in the Netherlands, you probably cross bridges everyday. I stopped taking them for granted for a second yesterday. These bridges are not just a quick way to get from one side of the water to the other. They are a metaphor for making choices that bring you the new horizons.
Walking around in Utrecht, drinking coffee at one of the nice little coffee places along the Oudegracht or going out for dinner with friends. It makes me look back with gratitude. Living in Utrecht opened so many doors. Not just the doors of little coffee places, but of the doors of friendships. Living in Utrecht was in important step that helped me to cross so many more bridges. When I walk around in that city, I feel the excitement again of exploring and the idea that anything is possible. Utrecht is like my magic wardrobe into Narnia.