August/September was my longest trip away from the Netherlands since I moved here four years ago. I hadn’t planned to be gone for more than a couple of weeks, but an opportunity, sudden time in someone’s schedule, a meeting, planning and training: one thing led to another, and time passed.
There’s adjustment in returning, and rediscovering things
- Finding where I left my bike. I chose someplace safe, but different than where I usually park, so steps had to be retraced. And the right set of keys found.
- Learning to cross streets. Looking right, not left, and registering the presence of bicycles instead of cars.
- Climbing stairs. Narrow passages and thin treads on top of the sheer number of steps and the breathtaking angle of climb.
- Coping with IND. My visa renewal went in last July: no word from them in the mountain of mail at my front door. I called; learning that a decision was reached September 24. I will hear in a few weeks. No, they can’t tell me what the decision was.
- And, about that mountain of mail. The sheer volume of junk mail vs. real mail is astounding. Newspapers, flyers, magazines, advertisements, probably 10:1 in number, 100:1 in volume. I took a big bag of it to the recycle bin.
- Rediscovering café’s. ‘How I’ve missed streetside coffee on a sunny afternoon.
- Getting back into exercising. And bike riding. And stroopwafels.
- Boats going by the windows. And people. The pulse of a city’s day again, so different from the day’s phases in the countryside.
- Resuscitating the plants: Guidelines recommend CPR before shocking them.
- Restocking the ‘fridge. This meant doing a big shopping at midweek, when it’s out of style to do a big shopping, People were inconvenienced, which made the usual race to pack groceries before the next customer’s stuff arrives even more pressured.
- Reconnecting with friends.
- Tuning in to the Dutch language; remembering forgotten Dutch words. And getting comfortable with missing a portion of everyday conversations around me again. It drove me back to the Dutch books by late last night.
But the skills will all return by the weekend: it’s just like, well, riding a bike.
Two links of interest, then back to work on the budgets:
Schiphol Airport has long had a small art gallery, where passengers could browse paintings from the Rijksmuseum between flights. No, next to that spot, they have put a library. There are several thousand books that can be borrowed, most focused on Dutch history and Culture, and comfy chairs for reading. It’s a great idea, and may pull me away from the airline lounges on future trips.
My mail updates are returning errors; I can’t Like my friend’s status. Is it my fault or is the site down? Downrightnow.com knows: it’s a free site that monitors the major social networking sites and keeps track of whether they are working. The graphic history of up- and down-time suggests that the Cloud is far less perfect than we all think.