My number one priority once I landed in Amsterdam was: FRIENDS. My fellow Portuguese countrymen kept asking: “What about the cold?”, “What if you can’t find a job?”, “What if the Dutch are nasty?”. Their worries were trifling to me. Weather conditions didn’t matter much, and as for work difficulties or complicated people, I mean, when you’ve survived Portugal during economic scarcity, you’re ready for everything. By then I knew that I could do without my family, without a job for a while, even without a home. The one thing that could make the enterprise of moving countries come to grief was NO FRIENDS.
No friends was a deal breaker for me. Here’s why: if you miss your family, friends usually act like one, especially in a city where everybody is on their own. In case you’re down for not having a job, a friend always cheers you up, plus they will probably come up with the most precious tips conducive to finding one. If you’ve got no home, a friend will offer you theirs. It’s this simple.
For my family’s greatest horror, during my first month in Amsterdam I did not work. All I did was make friends. I spent a couple of afternoons job hunting and, the rest of the time, I socialised, went places, made appointments, met-up with people. I could endure everything except for being alone in the world. As you might imagine I became much more open than what I was back in my homeland, and I dropped any sense of shame when it comes to expressing a desire to stay in touch with someone, and do stuff together. And I can’t remember a time in which my initiative was not well-received.
Seven years forward my idea of family has been reshaped. I have always believed that family was a concept that went way beyond blood ties. Nowadays, I couldn’t be more sure of that. For me, the biggest treasure in the world are still my friends. My inside is now screaming cheeeesyyyy!, and also but it’s truuuuuueeee! This long introduction brings me to Bianca Alexiuc. Bianca is someone I got close with last year, following a photoshoot for Tula Amsterdam, of which result I absolutely adored. This girl is special. It’s not only the way that she looks at things, it’s her comforting energy, how committed she is to her work and how insightful. And it’s also about the quality of the attention she gives you. I knew that Bianca is currently focusing on family photography. This fact sparked an idea: what if she came over to photograph my modern family?
I decided to have the signing of the rental contract for my apartment as an excuse to celebrate. This is a meaningful event because, if I don’t burn down the house in the meanwhile, I can stay here for as long as I want. If you live in Amsterdam or read this post, you know how big of a deal this is. And I said, come for late brunch. It was a last-minute thing and, despite the fact that a couple of them couldn’t make it, I still had with me some of my most cherished friends in this city. How I met a few of them does make for a great story as well.
We were all sitting at the table engulfing food like happy piggies when Bianca showed up and joined the feast. Before we knew, it was time for the family photo. In order to recreate the mood, just click the song below. This was our soundtrack for the shoot (I’m bloody serious).
Then Tico, the cat, joined us while the other cat was hiding in the closet. From here I’ll let you guess the stories that brought me together with these ones: there were two people in this group that I met in Serbia (!), someone I met online, someone I met at the Dutch course, someone I met at late late hours at Pacific Parc, someone I met via my Frisian ex-partner, someone I met at a house viewing. And oh, my cats came all the way from Portugal.
Having these creatures around makes my bad hair day depicted in the photos utterly unimportant. Because of them, my days are sweet and moving countries was piece of cake. The only thing I’m missing here is an ugly sweater. But I’ll keep that one for the next late brunch.
Might you want to join your own family for a photoshoot, call Bianca for the job. In case my modern family doesn’t convince you, her portfolio will.
Thank you so so much, Bianca, for registering my modern family. Oh, in fact, thank you so much for being part of it too.
6 thoughts on “Portrait of a modern family”
Say Yes To Madeira - Ślub i wakacje na Maderze
Beautiful post, this is the kind of posts I would like to read more often… I can relate to it. I have been an expat in a lot of countries, and I agree that friends are priceless. We also have no relatives in the Netherlands, and our friends are truly our family…
Aw, thank you so much for your heartfelt comment! I love writing personal posts – it feels like I’m a grandma telling the stories of her life to her grandchildren before they fall asleep ❤
I love your post- and the picture speaks volumes! My (now) husband and I moved to Amsterdam about 5 years ago, and I was chewing his ears off about making friends. And now we couldn’t be happier with our Amsterdam family-away-from-home. It makes all the difference 🙂
So glad to hear that you found your Amsterdam family too! 🙂
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