I remember walking off the airplane in Hawaii and smelling what can only be described as Hawaii. I remember the first day of any job I’ve ever had. I remember where I was when I first met a neighbor who later became a best friend. I remember reading Alan’s very first email to me. I got up from my chair to head out of the room, turned back toward the computer–staring at the screen–paused and then thought, “I just decided to take a break from this online dating stuff and YOU came along?”
First moments are always very vivid memories for me. Like that first day in Amsterdam.
I have revisited Holland in my memory many times in the past 4 years and 9 months, but those visits were hazy in comparison to putting my first day of my visit onto my blog. It felt like I was there again.
Feeling the moisture in the air that permeates my unprepared layers of clothing.
Resisting the instinct to reach out and touch everything my eyes come in contact with–the moss on the stone bridges, solid wood doors, wall texturing, the cobble stone walkways, a wooden dining table…
I can smell that new scarf as I tucked in my rosy iced nose.
Holding and kissing Quint and registering his scent as “baby” even though it wasn’t a familiar smell.
I’ve struggled to put the feelings of that day into words. The best I can do is this: I felt a sense of belonging even though I was a stranger.
In 37, 4″X5″ journal pages , I write as much detail as I can remember (Hawaii took 23 pages). I don’t think I have the patience to re-write all of those details in my blog, even if that was my goal with this project. I don’t think anyone besides me would have the patience to read them! My goal here is to highlight the moments that I can look back and say, “That changed me”. Here’s where the “highlights” come in.
On Day 2 in Holland, Barbara had to work so I was on my own to explore. Bab gave me her tram card along with good instructions on getting around. I was to walk the half block from her apartment to the nearest tram station, hop on the 25 and then watch for the digital sign inside to say, “Dam Square” and then hop off. It was that easy and only took about 10 minutes.
I found my way to the center of Amsterdam to see the Dam Square,
(Photo from http://www.annefrank.org/en/Museum/)
and then I walked around Amsterdam until Barbara got off work and we met up for dinner.
Bundled up and fueled by the awaiting adventure, I roamed the entire day in Amsterdam. By myself. This is something that surprises people when I tell them. My dad probably cringed at that fact. Me. Alone. In Amsterdam. Well, I wasn’t really alone. Dutch people, I learned, are very kind and accommodating. In addition to that, with every block I walked down I always had a “safe” store or restaurant in view to run into . The truth is, I never felt unsafe.
The adventure that was Day 2 exceeded my expectations. I thrill at mazes. I create them in my dreams and create the occasional treasure hunt for kids. To me, wandering Amsterdam for 8 hours was HEAVEN! I mean–have you seen a an areal map of this city?! No? Here you go.
I had my new iPod that Santa brought me for Christmas. And now, whenever I hear Gnarls Barkley’s song Crazy, it takes me right back, like suction in my brain. My legs start moving to the beat and sometimes not just in my memory. (This is why I like to buy a new album when I visit a new city; the songs always transport me.)
An excerpt from My First Evers journal…
“What the store woman meant by ‘all the way down’ really means ‘down this street, around the corner and around that next corner’ I went the wrong way to Anne Frank’s huis. The 15 minute walk turned into a 40 minute scenic route: beautiful shops, picturesque residences within the look-a-like sandwiched buildings, and people watching. The varying boats along the canals were mostly empty this time of year, but still very much appreciated by this relatively sheltered Utahn.”
After 8 hours there was more to see before I was to meet Barbara, but I found a place to park myself because my feet were tired. And here is what I did while I waited in the drizzling rain…
If only I had a better camera. This was only half of the lineup in front of the restaurant where Bab and I ate.
First moments are not my only vivid memories. The sight above and our scrumptious meal left me with a perma-grin for the rest of the night. The day left me in my own version of Brer Rabbit’s Laughing Place. A place I didn’t want to ever leave.
And later, when Barbara’s dad and I share an interest in Katie Melua, I think how ironic it is that he tells me of her new song, “There are nine million bicycles in Bejing.”
Today’s Syrupy Moment: Having a heating pad.