The in-between

I grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Eastern Tennessee. A beautiful area, for certain, but I could barely wait to escape. College was merely a pit-stop on my quest to see the world.

No one was surprised when I fell in love with a Dutchman. They were even less surprised when I bought a one-way ticket to Amsterdam, crammed all my belongings into a couple suitcases, and set off on a string of adventures that consisted of a map, a duffel bag, and a Eurail pass. I’d only been talking about doing so all my life. What surprised everyone, including myself, was that my European vacation lasted for twelve years.

And no, not all of it was vacation. Not even most of it. Life in the Netherlands turned out to be pretty much the same as anywhere else, filled with jobs and to-do lists and babies and mortgages, only in a place where people are freakishly tall and there are more bicycles than humans.

But Holland quickly became my new home, one that taught me to speak the language like a native, challenged me to adopt another culture as my own, and stretched me to limits I didn’t know I had. For me, Holland was like that crotchety old college professor you thought was being mean for mean’s sake, but who ended up teaching you the most. Ultimately, my time there taught me to stop and smell the tulips, and to bloom where my bulb is planted.

My family and I returned to the States ten years ago, and we’re still learning to navigate our in-between world, the one that straddles, not always gracefully, American and Dutch cultures. I’ve gotten used to the fact that Dutch people think I’m Dutch and Americans think I’m American, that I long for one country whenever I’m in the other, that spring flowers and rainstorms and the color orange make me homesick for a place that’s not technically my home.

Because even when I’m not there, Holland will always feel like a safe place to land.

About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (, Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at

Posted on October 26, 2012, in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Welcome to Women Unplugged, Kimberle! Your dual life sounds very exciting to this southern girl. I hope you get to go back often and smell those tulips! Thanks for spending time with us here!

  2. Your “other” homeland sounds beautiful, Kimberle. Selfishly, though, I’m glad you spend part of you time here in the ATL. 🙂 Welcome to Women Unplugged!

  3. Welcome, Kimberle! I’ve never been out of the States, so your story is fascinating, for sure. 🙂

  4. Hey Kimberle! You’ll have to tell me if my comments are showing up because I always leave comments for WU posts and am assuming they’re being moderated first??? Patti

    • I hear you loud and clear, Patti. No moderating necessary. Nice to cross paths with you here at WU.

  5. I love those pictures of the fields of tulips in Holland. The colors are so stunning. Can’t wait to hear more about your time in Holland and your travels. Welcome to Women Unplugged, Kimberle!

    • Thanks, Sheila! I just had to have pages added to my passport so I’m back in business and hope to get over there sometime this winter. Will make sure to blog about it. ;D

  6. Loved your journey and that you share it so openly and beautifully. Thanks.

  7. Neat story and so glad to have you, Kimberle!

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