A Home in Holland

There is a bell tower in the courtyard behind our apartment, and three minutes after I awoke to Erik’s soft goodbye kiss, it rang eight beats, like two measures in 4/4 time, to mark the 8 o’clock hour. And so the day began like a song. One, however jet lagged, cannot fall back asleep after such a composed start.

By some other cue, the birds had already begun their day, the high-pitched hilarity to their conversation like that of youngsters in a schoolyard during the day’s most effusive hour. And, as many symphonies build sound gradually, the neighbor beyond our bedroom wall tuned in his preferred soul genre to mark the start of his own day, one which supposedly entails sorting metals. All these sounds so engaged that my stereotypical notion of the young Dutch affinity for solely house and techno music styles was momentarily dismantled, a charming and ironic treat to my over-structured mind.

Amsterdam is wet and green, a variety of veriest greens. A photographer in love with the crisp exactness of freshly rained upon air would shudder at the possibilities here, keeping his eye alert and alive, his shutter as automatic and natural as the earnest blinking of a human eye. Yesterday evening, Erik and I cycled through this green wetness to the Amstelveenseweg, a street I traversed daily four years ago, a street on which an Indonesian restaurant called Blauw is situated, and we ate there to celebrate the start of a new journey, a new song of unknown sounds. Afterward, his gentlehand cleared the rainwater from my bicycle seat, and we took the Vondelpark route home.

This bicycle I rode, as well as a gorgeous Winsor Newton H-frame easel, some canvas and palettes, were available to me immediately upon arrival, thanks to the warm and welcoming hospitality of Erik and his family. Life is good, almost too much for my own reckoning of it–

For I wonder, do physical bodies disintegrate faster here, like dead men in swamps, unlike mummies wrapped in unwet tombs? And do people feel more while living here, the wetness of feeling, the result of some involuntary seeping in of oceans? As it stands, I don’t mind the moisture among strands of hair, the pressure about my bare, barometric ears, and the extra curl of the cover page of V. Woolf’s Lighthouse on the bedside table. There is a ripping openness to it, a participation beckoned, a home to be had.

The Courtyard

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