It has been the kind of spring that makes people who don’t normally care about the weather complain on Facebook. The kind of spring where I’ve gotten to use the new “winter” boots I bought on end-of-season sale, and wear the hat that took me too long to knit (until it was eaten by an unleashed dog in a park). Someone told me that the Dutch news reported a whopping increase in the number of holidays Dutch people have booked this year (and if it’s increased, it must be now quite high indeed). We ourselves went a little nuts two months or so back and booked things for May, July, and September. Um, and August, if you count a home trip to the United States. And… I’ll tell you later about June. (I’ve mentioned before that Tim gets 42 days, right?)
The weather’s been so rotten, I’m getting a cold. It might be from standing shivering outside to cheer for Tim at the Leiden Half Marathon this Sunday. But I’m smiling as I order a tea at my favorite (yes… I almost deleted that word but let’s be honest. I’m here nearly every day) cafe. This is because of the incredibly high guilty-pleasure meter on the cafe’s soundtrack of late. I can’t get through “Mag ik een thee” with a straight face, because the guy and I are both really distracted by the urge to belt out Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Last week, the entire room was on the verge of a flashmob to “Beat It.”
I return to my seat only to discover that a very small dog is nosing around my ankles. Dogs are allowed in cafes here, but… it’s not normal for them to be unleashed and roaming. I resist the urge to punt the dog. Living in Holland has not improved my feelings over honden (see hat reference, above). I can’t tell who owns this one, but I want its face out of my workbag.
Despite the heavy clouds, out on Koornmarkt the young guys who run the rondvaart are squeegeeing the boats, optimistic that today’s tourists will come. And they will; it’s hard to cross Delft’s Markt in May without getting tangled in a long line of (generally) senior citizens, following a microphone-d guide holding up a sign with the name of a cruise line or bus company. I myself gave a three-hour tour on Tweede Pinksterdag to a group of art / history students from an American university, who made what had sounded like a ridiculously long assignment actually quite enjoyable.
It’s the end of the school year (ish), and the number of odd things seen out one’s window is higher than normal. More guys in animal suits. More guys in full, rakish-looking (standard) suits. Last night, there was some sort of rowing event going on on the canal, complete with cheering fans on bicycles, with air horns. It was 10PM and the sun was still up.
As the weather continues to be bad (sorry; I know I keep mentioning it, but really, if you were here…), I continue to head for my workouts indoors at a gym. I run on a treadmill that faces the street (not my favorite, to be clear, because you get watched as much as you watch) and watch as Delft goes by. Students go in and out of a bicycle-repair shop. The clientele of the street’s “coffee shop” make their visits. Bicycles dodge cars dodge scooters dodge pedestrians.
It’s just another day, and lately there have been lots of those. Expat life isn’t all “firsts” and epiphanies. It’s just another day, but I’m plagued by the wondering of how many more of those I’ll have. As people who remember our initial plan like to remind us, we said three years when we moved here. Somehow, we are now one month and five days from that mark. Tim’s contract is up this summer—but last month, he renewed it. I sent in the application for my new residence card. This decision was made in part by default: the lack of a concrete opportunity thus far that would take us back to the US, where we have no intention of moving to be unemployed. Some days I feel ready for that next chapter, and other days the current one is a book I hope goes on.
I don’t know if I’ve said this already, but I know I’ve thought it: the decision to move here was nowhere near as hard as the decision to move back will be.