written Monday 28 June 2004
Preparing to leave the Netherlands. This is going to be emotionally wrenching at times. Let's get one of the hardest parts over with, first.
You knew this had to happen. I rolled it out of its comfy storage room for the last time, washed it, wiped it down. It gleamed, it was beautiful. Sunday evening just before dark, I rode it along Frederik van Eedenweg, Vondellaan, Brediusweg, Flevolaan, and Huizerstraatweg, turned right into the company bicycle path...
...and parked it in the space nearest the badge entrance, so that Monday morning--my last Monday morning here--as many people as possible could see it. I placed the signs on it: DEZE FIETS TE KOOP.
I pocketed the key, looked back once, and walked--walked--away, from where I had just ridden. 4000 km together, all those pictures in this blog, and it had never let me down. This part of my life is over. My first sad moment in the Netherlands. But it really needed to sell in the next 5 days.
It sold in the first two hours. Monday morning, I handed Wim the keys, showed him a couple of things, took the signs off, and we walked back into the building. That part of my life is irredeemably over. Wim will like his new bike. But--farewell.
In both days of my Final Weekend, I ended up visiting Delft. Good choice.
Walking to the train station, I notice that Frederik van Eedenweg has new heirs to its goose dynasty.
The main market in Delft is an amazing place, dominated by the Nieuwe Kerk. There's practically always something happening there. I stopped at the cafe "Willem van Oranje" for appelgebak--the best I know of, anywhere, a revelation.
While I've lived away from the US, I've thought of it less and less often...but sometimes one question occurs to me: what IS it about America that prevents places like this? So simple, and so very comfortable. Gezellig. It's a mystery.
The second day I stop in on Amsterdam, pay the breath-stopping parking tarifs, and walk around.
For sale: a Che Guevara doormat. Hmmm. Now, I wonder which meaning the designer intended: honoring Che's image at our home's very doorstep, or just wiping our feet on his face?
The most interesting thing about your adjustments to a new country is that you cannot even dream of the in advance. Pictured is A4, connecting the 3 largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Den Haag. A very nice, modern, fast expressway. But traffic stops for a drawbridge. The first time I saw this, I found it not just weird, but alarmingly weird. This time, I hardly even noticed enough to take this picture for you.
I walked around Delft. I had appelgebak again. It is hard to imagine ever tiring of this place, it is so...concetrated. The Netherlands and its history and its habits distilled to high proof.
I have to take one last look back. Farewell, Delft. When will I see you again?
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