Essay: meliena decuypere
Arriving, My Journey
When I heard this month’s theme for the issue of Write, Bitch, Write was Arrival, I got this idea in my head. After having lived in Belgium for almost 21 years continuously, I arrived in the United States on August 29, 2015. But in all honesty, when I think about it, that’s not what I would consider “my arrival”. I think the point when I realized I had arrived, in life, in the United States, in Boston, was December 7, 2015. And then again on June 15th, 2016. And once more on February 22, 2019.
I started my first job in Boston on December 7, 2015. While my one-way plane ticket was a clear indication of my intention to live in the USA, I didn’t have a long-term plan. I had a spot in a 4-week course in Boston to become an English as a Second Language teacher, but that was the only certainty I had. I spent a month prior to the course travelling, visiting friends and familiarizing myself with the city. After the course I did a New England road trip and then it was back to real life. I was lucky enough to be able to stay with some family in Pennsylvania while job-hunting, and managed to squeeze all four job interviews in one day. But still, in spite of all my actions, it continued to feel like I was just visiting. Then the job offer from LaL Language Centers came, and it finally started to feel like things were falling in place. I found a room in a house in Dorchester, settled in and started working. I got into a routine, and after months of living out of suitcases, not knowing what address to put on my resume, it started to feel like I had arrived.
As things progressed, I quit my first job and started working full-time at Stafford House. I became the Housing Supervisor and moved into a free studio in Packard’s Corner, one of the perks of my job. For those of you who don’t live in Boston, rent is expensive. It was so great to have a fully furnished space of my own and only a few things that I still needed to buy. I went out and got my own set of dishes, wine glasses, cooking ware and other things I deemed essential. Sitting on my couch, eating a meal I had cooked with my own pots and pans on a plate that I had bought hours earlier, again, it felt like I had arrived.
As the months and years went by, I went from the studio in Packard’s Corner to a huge one-bedroom apartment in West-Roxbury (again, for work), got more furniture, and then to a two-bedroom apartment in Winthrop. With each move I improved in making the space my own, and I consider each move as part of my life in Boston. But it never made as much of an impact as that first move from Dorchester to Packard’s Corner.
There are many events between June 15, 2016 and February 22, 2019 that I could consider my “arrival” in the United States (and Boston in specific), such as experiencing the very foreign concept of dating, having my first (and current) American boyfriend or voting, but they don’t really jump out at me. What does stick with me as another part of my arrival, is obtaining my driver’s license. Even though I’ve been able to drive since 2010, sadly my Belgian license is only valid in the US for a certain amount of time. Two days before my 28th birthday I got my permit and a couple of months and three driving classes later, I finally became the proud owner of a license. I don’t know what took me so long to get it, but I’m happy those days of only having a passport as my ID are over.
I think the most important take-away from this journey is that arriving somewhere is never just physical. It is a state of mind. It is setting up routines and habits. It is finding a place to call home. It is making friends. It is being able to give directions to strangers. It is a list of small things that are different for each and everyone of us. And in a very strange yet logical way, arriving is a journey of itself.
about the writer: meliena decuypere
Meliena is a 28 year old Boston transplant from Ghent, Belgium. She is adventurous, which reflects in both her hobbies and her work. She enjoys reading, singing and photography and has an insurmountable love for dogs and travel.
While in Boston, she has worked as an ESL-teacher, an activities coordinator and currently works as a front desk agent at the Charlesmark Hotel. She will try her hand at anything you throw at her and loves learning new things.