It's lovely even from the air, finding me twisting toward my window to try to get the proper angles as we glided among the clouds above AMS. Twisting rivers, defined towns and acres of countryside - a perfectly sunny welcome to the Netherlands.
My meetings went well - were both friendly and productive. I answered questions and presented material and indicated that I did not want to leave my current position, but might need to do so, asking them to trust that I'd direct anyone new to take good care of them.
I had dinner at Le Garage with the VI-iest of the VIPs in my circle, giggling with him and his wife as we nibbled at fish and drank a bottle of wine. My colleagues were most impressed by his restaurant choice and I nodded when my companions made subtle motions toward celebrities I did not know.
"Does he play soccer? Er, futbol?" I asked innocently more than once. "I understand you enjoy that."
Upwards of 3 hours after my arrival, my cheeks tingle from the scrape of his stubble when he kissed me goodnight.
"Three times," he laughed when I pulled away after the first and second kisses. "We Dutch are generous."
And they are - my taxi drivers were the epitome of friendliness so I chatted as I adjusted yet another of my dresses that are cut too low. (I don't know why I insist on exposing so much cleavage lately. Perhaps because dresses that are suitably knee-length and flowing try to be sexier in other bosom-based regions?)
Still, I arrived feeling pleasantly tipsy and nearly pretty with my glossy lips and curling hair and dress that flirted with the backs of my knees. I fell into bed with absent prayers for Dad - they held chemotherapy yet again as his legs remain swollen. I fear for what I'll find when I return home, but am eager to offer Mom some in-person support.
But I awakened to an email that said he had a good day. Accepted Kool-Aid to drink and had eaten a bit. In the event that God favors requests from others (which I don't believe, but am covering my bases), could you pray if you're of that persuasion? I need him to be peaceful and happy - at least in some moments. Please, please, please...
Still, when I finally felt like emerging from my pillowy nest, the rain continued. So I dressed and departed, acquiring a map and then catching the metro, bright green umbrella around my wrist.
It was cold and wet and I wanted to wrinkle my nose, but I mustered my happiness and followed the crowds of umbrellaed tourists down the street away from the station. It was crowded and I subconsciously move away from crowds, finding myself alone on smaller streets without really meaning to do so. Still, the smaller streets are charming and I enjoyed the pace - pausing for photos, juggling my umbrella and camera and bag.
Content was I until a car sped down the flooded street, sending a television-worthy arc of water toward me while I winced helplessly - umbrella already folded at my side as the spray soaked me from ponytail to silver flats.
So I took a boat ride, determined to dry out at least slightly, and took many pictures blurred by the rain on the windows. I finally got my bearings and found the flower market. Had lunch. Watched a prostitute take a man through her door and behind her curtains (her dress matched my umbrella, actually - my umbrella had far more material). I peeked in sex shops and inhaled while wandering past coffee houses, trying to determine if the slightly-sweet scent was marijuana during a break in the weather.
It had started to rain again though and, tired of being wet if not tired in general, I moved toward Centraal and immediately found the metro I desired. Slipping back to the hotel, I checked email to make sure all was well at home and fell into a nice nap.
And tomorrow I go home.