Am I becoming Dutch? The weather app says: “Light rain” so I take my light coat and gloves and head out to my friend’s house by bike. Never mind that it’s about 6 degrees and overcast. It’s doable and when the wind starts to hurt my ears, I pull up the hoodie on my coat and am thankful that Theo installed a new bike mirror for me, so I can see if any bikes are trying to pass me. No one does, by the way, as my electric bike is faster than many (except for racing bikes) and besides that, it’s still the Xmas break and there’s still a lockdown in the Netherlands so the bike paths are as empty as the roads as I bike past the sports fields. A single soccer player is there with equipment and a lot of balls. I bike through Buitenveldert, alongside the Amstel Park where a lone man is standing next to his car and smoking a cigarette which I whiff in hungrily. Then I turn right after passing the RAI convention center and the big vaccination/ covid testing tent and head towards my friend’s house. She has a statue of Anne Frank in the little city park next to her house.
No one is playing in the park, and the drizzle starts to increase to a light rain, though as I look down at my jeans, they somehow miraculously remain dry. I quickly lock up my bike in the crowded bike stand next to her house and ring the bell. She lets me in quickly – to the warmth and the lovely home she’s made. A miraculous turnaround since I saw it the first time only a couple of months ago. I admire how she’s done it all and so fast. She gives me strong coffee, it’s the second I’ve had since waking up late with a headache this morning. It hits the spot, and we sit and chat in her living room with the books like friends – some I know – some I hope to know soon, some I don’t need to ever meet all sitting patiently in the bookshelf behind her.
I bike home, a few hours later; it’s even colder and I cycle fast to warm up, and I don’t need to use Google Maps to get home. I know the way. As I pass the big homes of south Buitenveldert, I remember the post I read online yesterday about someone on a bike who broke into a BMW parked on this street and wonder if the inhabitants are viewing me too with suspicion. I try to look friendly as I whiz past them, passing soon afterwards the place where my daughter will soon be living, and am glad we’ll be so close, only a 3-minute bike ride from home.
As soon as I get home, I hear her talking on the phone to her brother, my son, and she hands the phone to me. He tells me of the newest job opportunities he’s pursuing. I’m glad I didn’t offer my help – but that his friend did, and he’s taken advantage of that. At his age, I also never asked my parents for help getting jobs, and I don’t remember ever being without work – at least until I came to the Netherlands. Well, he’s going to make it on his own. I have full faith in my resourceful kids. Perhaps I’ve done something right if they both know how to cook, learn new things, earn money, make friends, and be kind. I’ve had my adventure for the day. I’m glad to be home again.