It’s 6 A.M. and I’m grateful for coffee. The apartment and my body feel like carnage of the past week: There has been insufficient sleep. There have been rodeo-like attempts at corralling the objects from our drawers and cupboards. There have been too many and yet not enough drinks with friends.
My “special notebook” in which I scrawl ideas and other things was missing for three days, presumed lost; resurrected just a day late for Easter. There was much rejoicing. Yesterday I turned on my Kindle to get a moment’s sanity by reading over lunch, and discovered that the top half of the screen is broken. I don’t know how this happened, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with the absence of furniture. I’ve been stashing the Kindle on the floor next to the mattress at night. And I am 80% (Kindle likes to give you percents) through a mystery I wanted to finish.
Last night, around midnight, I tried to read on the Kindle anyway, to see if I could make enough sense of the screen to continue with the story. I kept at it for a few minutes, but I was missing too many words to get the real picture.
That’s life this week. I try very hard, but I’m missing part of the screen. It’s the part that comes after Thursday, when we get on the plane and fly back to America.
Last weekend we hosted (I think this qualifies?) a borrel. It’s a Dutch gathering of drinks and small hapjes (snacks), and in Tim’s department it’s tradition to throw one when you’re going away. Ours was at our house. We still had the couch—Tim and one lucky friend hadn’t yet had the experience of Tetris-ing it up/down/up/NO/down/up our narrow, bent Dutch staircase.
We talked and reminisced, and our friends (in another tradition) sang us a song and gave us gifts. At 2 A.M. I excused myself and went to bed while a tiny core of close friends talked science. It was the right ending.
On a small piazza in Sardinia last month we met an artist who tried to guess our home from our accents. To my surprise, he correctly deduced that we were American but had lived outside the US.
“It is a strange world,” he said, “no? When people from the US live in the Netherlands?”
Saturday we went truant on packing to spend the day in Amsterdam. We bought olives at a market and sat with our feet hanging over the Keizersgracht, feeling the sun and spitting the pits. The canals were busy with boaters (but nowhere near as busy as they’ll be on upcoming King’s Day). Amsterdammers were lounging along the canals, sitting outside, taking it all in, like we were. To them it is not strange; and to us, not anymore.
May the world continue to be strange—and small.