Moving Back to Move Forward

Why my return to Amsterdam feels like anything but regression.

Sally Clarke


How I’m feeling about being back in Amsterdam

I’ve always been slightly allergic to the idea of moving back to somewhere I’ve lived before. The metaphor is silly and simple: Returning seemed to imply regression, perhaps even failure or weakness.

And yet, moving back to the Netherlands one year ago was one of the best moves I’ve ever made. I was not just leaving an unhappy marriage, I was walking into a place that feels like a warm, safe embrace.

Now, after a year in Alkmaar, I’m moving to Amsterdam. And it seems I’ve cured myself of my allergy to moving ‘back’. As it turns out, this feels very much like moving forward.

The seductive powers of the Dam

My relationship with Amsterdam goes back a long way. From my first encounter as a 16-year-old exchange student, I was enchanted.

The cobblestoned streets and squares; the carts selling poffertjes or raw herring on bridges.

The ‘buzzing haze of flying monkeys’ of its bicycle traffic.

The haphazardly leaning buildings, exacerbated by their wiggly reflection in countless canals.

The waft of weed; the wink of red lights.



Sally Clarke

Wellbeing & burnout author, expert, writer & speaker. Global adventurer. she/her