The joys and blues of Schiphol

I remembered standing there a long, long time ago, in front of the same tainted glass doors of Arrivals 1, waiting anxiously for them to open. Memories of certain feelings flooded through my stomach. The excitement of knowing someone’s about to be happy to see you, knowing a few warm hugs are just moments away.

Like so many others I was way too early. I had been standing below the screens, watching the numbers change. Some planes landed sooner than expected, others took longer than planned. They must have had trouble with the wind or something, I imagined. And then hers had said: LANDED, 10 minutes early. And right away I had taken off to that glass door, knowing she had to walk all the way from the plane to the luggage belt and wait for her suitcase to appear. A plane from Barcelona had landed as well and I wondered if I was about to run into someone familiar.

So there I was: waiting, reminiscing, remembering, hoping, wishing. Getting emotional thinking about leaving, returning, seeing other people happy to see one another. My son was just running around, excited from having seen planes taking off, listening to the roaring sound of the engines, having sat down in a Cityhopper, not wanting to get off. He yelled out her name, as if that would make her come out the glass door faster. Maybe it did. He jumped up and down and ran towards her, gave her a hug, and another one, glowing with joy. Then he looked at me with the happiest smile: ‘Look mama, it’s Cinthya!’ Writing it down it sounds like the cheesiest moment from some feelgood movie. But it was beautiful and it did make us all feel good. Something about a saying about distance and a heart and fondness.

We celebrated her new job with the lights of Schiphol and Amsterdam at our feet. We had a toast with lots and lots of unspoken words. And then we had to send her off again, she was going home. How I envied her, and so did my son: ‘I want to go on the plane with Cinthya!’

I just wanted to go home as well.

Looking up

I must admit: I truly h a t e getting soaked while on a bike. I will never get used to that.

But you know things are starting to look up when on a Sunday late afternoon you have to go out and get something from the supermarket and you randomly run into one of the very, very few people you know in your new hometown. And you know what makes it even more special? She’s from Barcelona. She’s the only mom who talks to me when we run into eachother at the daycare center.

And you know things are starting to look up when you get invited to your first birthday party, even if it’s for a 2 year old. And when all the adults, minus two, myself included, are from Spain and Italy, it’s chaotic and fun. And before you know it you have a dinner appointment for the next twohundred Friday nights. Pizza and pasta at the restaurant of one of the dads (he’s half Italian and married to a Spanish lady), kids allowed to run and have fun.

Things are starting to look up. And old client came back. A new client is very satisfied with my work and will definitely stay on. Once in a while I get to go to the magazine’s headquarters in the big big big ‘magazine building’, surrounded by friendly collegues who tell me it’s nice to have me around.

And you know things are starting to look up when you receive an invite to come spend a Sunday afternoon with a fun group or girlfriends who are warm and welcoming enough to include me and try to make me feel at home.

And you know what else? I don’t get overwhelmed every day anymore by that ache I’ve felt since even before I left home. I’m beginning to make peace, even if only temporary, with how it is. It is what it is, how it is, where it is. And slowly how it is, is showing signs of fun.

So there’s that. A ray of sunshine through my window.