When I arrived nearly two weeks ago I had spent nearly 24 hours traveling here. I had attempted to fly a week earlier but because I was flying on a stand by ticket I had to abort the mission as my original flight to JFK was oversold by 17 seats. When I finally arrived here I was exhausted but thrilled to be here. I arrived at 6a. We took the train from Schipol Amsterdam airport. I was dazed for sure. We then walked from the train station. My luggage seemed so loud as we rolled it along the cobble stone streets. Little did I know then that that sound is a very common sound. You hear people wheeling their luggage through town at all hours of the day and night. So, when we got back to the boat and dropped off my things and started our day it felt like I was going to be here forever. Two weeks seemed, at that point, like it would last forever. The first two days were very long days. We packed a lot in. And, now it is my last day. It feels as if I blinked and now it’s nearly over. We have had amazing late nights; climbing into bed at 3a on average. I have walked many, many miles. I have drank many a great beer and talked to many wonderful people.
This morning while Sima was getting ready I walked over to the Haarlemmerstraat, the little shopping street nearby. I wanted to go to a coffee and tea shop (not to be confused with a Coffee Shop where people by weed and hash) to buy some coffee for John. I was going to go yesterday but we thought it would be closed on Sunday. Many of the stores on the Haarlemmerstraat don’t open until 1p on Mondays. The coffee and tea shop isn’t open at all on Monday. They were open yesterday. I am sorry I didn’t get John coffee. He and I will just have to come back together.
I then went to the Albert Heijn to pick up a couple of things and to get a bottle of water. It was packed with people. I wish I could bring tons of things back with me but I just can’t. They have fascinating spices and cookies and salami. Things I haven’t seen at home. It is illegal to bring meat products back into the United States. It isn’t worth the risk. It is unfortunate because I did get some small salami logs that were really good. They weren’t too salty or garlicky. They had an interesting flavor.
As a relatively picky eater this trip has been a real stretch for me. I finally tried something called filet americain. I purposely didn’t ask what was in it. I had a feeling it was raw meat. I didn’t love it. Quite frankly, it was one of those flavors that I could do without ever having again. I just looked it up on line to be sure and yes, it is raw meat. Sima insists that here it is beef but I have read that it can also be made with horse meat. Honestly, the thought of it turns my stomach a bit. I may be adventurous in some ways but I just can’t stand the idea of eating Mr. Ed.
We had a rainy Sunday yesterday. It poured heavily all day. We stayed in and had a beautiful breakfast of orange yolked eggs (the norm here) and some of that amazing heavy dark bread I got at the Saturday market. Then Ben ventured out in the pouring rain and bought puff pastry. He came back and baked an apple pie. We relaxed and talked all day. Then some French friends came over with their beautiful 14 month old child. We played Scrabble and ate pie. It was really nice being with Sima and Ben and this beautiful family. To see the difference and similarities of how they are raising this beautiful little boy was lovely. Last night we played cards and ate left over munchie foods from the party. It was a great day!
I am going to miss Gnamish, their wonderful cat, so much. He just made me take a break from writing for snuggles. He climbed up onto the CPU under the desk. From there he climbed up me and put his paws over my shoulder. He is the loviest cat. Every night before bed he comes into my room and paces until I get in. Once I get in bed he gets up on my chest and leans down and rubs his nose against mine. I will miss him beyond measure.
The first Monday of every month they sound the emergency siren. I was sitting here at the computer when it went off this morning. At home, I know they test the emergency broadcast system on TV and on the radio. But near me they don’t sound sirens. I don’t even know if we have sirens outside in LA. I assume they have them in other places. It is a disconcerting sound. I remember in college they would sound the sirens. When they would students would stage “die ins” and lie on the ground in protest. That is San Francisco for you.
Now, Sima and I are going to eat the last of the eggs and the dark bread and head out. We are going to walk to her salon. She is going to do my hair for the first time in years. I can’t wait to have Sima hair! She is a brilliant hair stylist and colorist.
There is so much I will miss about being here. I really like the way of life here. Unlike a vacation where you stay in a hotel and eat out and do a lot of tourist attractions, I spent this trip immersed in the lifestyle. I shopped and cooked and walked around. I didn’t do nearly the amount of touristy things I would have liked. I don’t have regrets. The time flew by at what feels like a record pace. I missed many of the museums and the parks. I did do the things that were on the top of my list. I feel like I am going home refreshed and renewed with an altered perspective on life. Since losing my job before I left my life is a bit uncertain. After being here I feel like I can go home with new inspiration for what’s next.