Wednesday, April 30, 2003
"sam and janet"
"sam and janet who?"
"sam and janet evening"*
well: enchanted would be a mild exaggeration, but after walking, taking pictures, admiring the new exhibitions in the FOAM, and walking some more, it was very pleasant indeed to catch our breath in a colourful little restaurant on the van baerlestraat. we ate and drank well; we made fine conversation. i decided, on this queensday-eve, that comfortable familiarity is entrancing enough.
*it took a long hike through google to find just one knock-knock joke that even inspired a wry smile. this was it.
Friday, April 25, 2003
it's a long climb. the stairway winds heavenward into foreverness. there is no end in sight.
down below, when she began, she leaped and bounded. she realized that she was ascending, but was more aware of the height attained than of the steps surmounted.
lately, she has begun to relish every degree of the journey, resting thankfully on each landing and savouring the shadows* and the light. she looks downward and appreciates her achievements; she gazes upward and, optimistic, anticipates the challenges to come.
perhaps someone suddenly realized that their specially-purchased-by-post-order-acupressure-insoles weren't doing what they had promised, and decided to ditch them then and there...but why, then, just one? perhaps someone mistakenly assumed that this extra support would stick around, even in sandals...but wouldn't they have noticed its escape? perhaps someone dropped their saturday shopping bag, and completely overlooked this one item during the rescue operation. whatever the case, this single footprint on the quay in hoorn was the first step* in a stroll of whimsical conjecture.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
very satisfactory indeed: a balmy afternoon, a few hours with nothing on the agenda, a table looking out onto one of the liveliest corners in amsterdam - and a waitress with a good memory. the sidewalk part of the café is crowded, trams
and bicycles fly by, and our order appears on our table without us having said a word. magic.
Monday, April 21, 2003
Saturday, April 19, 2003
Friday, April 18, 2003
i can't resist an english breakfast. so, even though the ferry had tossed and tumbled through the north sea all night, feeling for all the world like a tiny rowboat at the mercy of angry elements, i prodded the husband awake at first light and we braced our way to the dining deck. we had the whole place to ourselves, with on one side endless beans and eggs and crispy toast, and on the other, endless water*, now complacent and congenial.
Thursday, April 17, 2003
for ten years, until she died at christmas, our rabbit roamed our tiny garden during the hours that we were there to see that she came to no harm. never one to limit herself to the grass handkerchief we call a lawn, she would hop happily around the shrubbery and help herself to anything with vertical ambitions. delphiniums - my Great Gardening Dream - never reached half a meter: chomp! she regarded our pot of herbs as a personal feast, and jumped, making herself supremely comfortable among the rosemary and the bay: chomp! and each and every bulb that reached for the sky was nipped in the proverbial bud: chomp!
(rabbits have very efficient teeth.)
my flowers were more horizontal and lifeless than they were flourishing, but she was a very happy bunny. fine by me.
but now she's gone, alas. everything blooms brilliantly. but in the patch above the spot that we laid her to rest - unlikely but true - the hyancinths have chosen to recline.
in fond memory?
i hope so.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
"hey," he says gently. his tone is solicitous..."i don't know which station is yours..."
she starts awake.
"where are we then?" she blinks, mildly panicked. the train has stopped. somewhere.
this is becoming a regular occurrence. just weeks ago, after a particularly satisfactory evening out, she awoke to the sight of lights and signs and landscapes that looked frighteningly unfamiliar, and ended up shivering on an equally unfamiliar december platform, waiting to backtrack to where she should have ended up in the first place.
"and i even set the alarm on my mobile!" she exclaims.
he smiles: "never works for me either.." thank heavens for people who consider.
she gathers herself up and flings her scarf over her shoulder.
if she runs, she can still catch her bus.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
it's her birthday today. nearly seventeen years ago she arrived at schiphol airport, and was placed lovingly into the arms of two people who had hoped, and dreamed, and anticipated. her life has been, happily, a life like any other. through the ups, the downs, the celebrations, the disappointments, i have watched her grow, and flourish, and become. she is a child of crossed frontiers. she has a good mother. she will do, and succeed at, whatever she sets her mind to: of that i have no doubt.
high season in holland has begun. the bulbs are blooming, and in amsterdam the streets are full of visitors draped in roughguides and camera’s, “oooh”-ing and “aaaah”-ing in the universal language of the impressed and the enchanted.
my friend isabel, here in the netherlands to give a couple of university lectures, allowed me to lead her around all my favourite locations, and “ooh”-ed and “aaah”-ed with the rest.
over coffee in the beiaard, over dry white wine in café de jaren, over a super meal in vooges, we told each other stories of the last twelve years that had not made their way into letters and e-mails. and between the pauses for nourishment, we rode the opstapper along the prinsengracht and walked, and walked, and walked, absorbing the beauty of an amazing city on a spring afternoon.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
i was born in the year of the tiger:
("brave and courageous, the tiger is ready for any challenge. nothing can tame their adventurous & rebellious spirit. a supreme optimist, they pursue their goals with fierce intensity. tigers are admired for their vibrant and playful personality.")
when i reached the last milestone birthday, i felt the need to do something that i had always wanted to do but had never dared, so i had this - my - chinese sign tattooed above my heart.
("the tiger is one of the most revered chinese birth signs. associated with power, courage and pure will, tigers are rebels with a cause. they are colourful and unpredictable, with boundless energy and a love of life which stimulates them and affects all those they come into contact with.")
it is invisible to most human eyes, happily, because my skin* is mature and reclusive and because it was, from the first, a private challenge.
("most of all tigers are romantic, passionate and playful, who love life and want to live it the fullest.")
it was a modest and personal statement: no regrets. regrets, at my age, at any age, are a total waste of time.
she tells her tale. it is a bitter tale of unbearable sweetness. it seems, at first, another in the parade of irresistible and lovingly collected anecdotes that comprise the life she shares with others. she steers through the story, choosing her words with care, and punctuating her story with exclamation points of gentle and righteous indignation.
she tells her tale, glossing over the pain that few would understand anyway, and defending, unbending, the erring.
she tells her tale like sails unfurling in the faltering light, so that no one will sense the floundering, so that no one will realize how close to capsizing she sometimes comes.
Sunday, April 6, 2003
the onset of spring* means the start of sunday shopping at the garden centres. carloads of optimistic souls make their way through the polders to shuffle among the flowers and the greenery and the ornaments, admiring, considering, swaying. arms and baskets are filled with colour. the scents of jasmine and rosemary entice. life in the backyard may be just days away.
and if the real warmth takes its time in arriving: for just under fifty euros, sunshine – albeit rather monochromatic – can be settled into a shopping cart and displayed wistfully on a waiting garden wall.
Friday, April 4, 2003
Wednesday, April 2, 2003
what the sign has to do with what's behind the façade, i have no idea: the organization located within devotes itself to obtaining things gratuitously. what the nature of the greenery is, why the proffering hand is beringed, what its fineness and frivolity actually suggests, is a mystery, but evidence once again that beauty can be a mere glance away from straight ahead. and it's free. maybe that's the gist.