Maaike Writes Here: Searching for home

My first music festival was sixteen years ago. Groezrock 2006, barely fourteen years old, and left to my own devices. Okay, not completely to my own devices, my parents bribed some friends of theirs (read: my mom her 20-something coworker and his friend) who liked that kind of music to chaperone us. They were the ones leaving my year younger sister and me to our own devices, as long as we checked in on the regular.

I got my first tattoo fourteen years ago, weeks before I turned sixteen. Would it surprise anyone if I say Sick of it All managed to capture my heart to the extent that I wanted their logo on my skin? I might be wrong. That tattoo might have been 2007. It’s half a life ago, the time is a blur.

That kid would have never expected to end up living in New York City, she just grabbed any reason to get out of that small town. She would lock herself in her room with the latest Victory Records sampler, reading interviews in Rocksound – going over and over the few she managed to snag at the international bookstore in Amsterdam on a visit, until she knew the interviews by heart. Hey, I never claimed to be cool.

Half a life ago and sometimes it still feels like yesterday. Realizing how big the world is, how much different impressions there are, how many moments I still haven’t experienced yet. That weekend last December in Chicago, casually talking to the bands – not much different than the train ride in 2008 with my friends to see those same bands in Amsterdam, drinking on our way to save some money. It’s new and exciting. Yesterday I lived for those stories, today I still do.

It’s been four years since I’ve visited home. Home will always be in multiple places, it’s what happens when you move countries. Home is where your loved ones are. In those four years, I settled into the city and found my home here. Sometimes missing my friends, the ones I rarely talk to anymore, the ones that once meant so much to me. Sometimes desperately clinging to the familiar strangers, hoping to make friends, hoping these connections once will mean more than drunken nights at shows.

Those drunk nights at shows – the sober ones as well – have been the margins between which I created my social circles. The sideline kid who always was excited just to be there, to have a place to go to and hang out at. Now that I’m getting older, I want something meaningful from this, want to be more than just a familiar face you’ll never see in the daylight.

Do we all feel this way as we age? I always said I wouldn’t let turning thirty get to me, that it was just an age, it didn’t mean I magically had to find a direction. Where at times I find myself in the back of a show, enjoying the scene from a distance, feeling older than my age and out of touch – other times I find myself wondering why the party has ended and everyone has gone home, feeling younger than my age, unsure how to calm down those impulses that make me want to go on. So, fine, I am letting getting thirty get to me, because that’s who I am.

I found myself in a city that has more people in one neighborhood than that lived in my old town, and I found myself grasping at everything to make it feel like home. It has become home, in so many ways. It wouldn’t have been without that place to go, without those people who spend their time on the stage, playing loud music at the crowd. Without those who book the events, deliver the sound, work the bars. Without those who show up.

This summer, I will visit my old home. I don’t know if I’ll be the same person as the one who left and never got on that return flight. I am lucky that I can let both worlds collide, for just a little bit, through this music scene that that small town kid once fell in love with – through the friends I made who will be in the same places.

I don’t think I can ever thank you all enough for having me there, on the sidelines. I wouldn’t be the same without it.

– Maaike

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