Category Archives: Netherlands

Strange Days

bikefaceIt’s awfully hard to write a personal blog these days. Not because there’s nothing going on in my life, but because my one life feels overshadowed by all the Everything going on in the world.

The plots of the most far-fetched spy stories pale next to the conspiracies and machinations that dominate the headlines — and the reality underpinning them is likely far worse.

This is the world we live in. Shock exhaustion. Waking up thinking it can’t possibly get any crazier today. Knowing that it will.

In the midst of that, I am struggling to find my place in a new culture, to find new clients, to learn a new language. All of which can be frightening, or fun, or exhilarating, or all of the above. I feel less intimidated by the little interactions in Dutch — not full conversations yet, but the back-and-forth information and pleasantries of shopping. I get a little thrill when someone doesn’t immediately switch to English. There is, for me at least, something inherently pleasurable in trying to speak a language other than the one I was born into. Even when I don’t get it quite right, there’s a little jolt that feels like swimming. The waters are not my environment, but I can move about, I can stay afloat. I like it. I always have.

And the whole adventure is taking place in the context of living on a bicycle, which is as familiar to me as breathing. The bicycle is grounding, although it seems strange to describe it that way, since it’s a thing made of movement — its very essence is to be fluid and free. If I’m on a bike, I know where I am, even when I am geographically (or emotionally) lost.