Sunday, March 21, 2010


Spring has come to the Netherlands and yesterday was about as nice as it gets. It was warm and windy and there were moments when you could even feel the sun. As is our custom, Maury and I went out for a walk, and since it was so nice I decided to take the long way around our neighborhood by veering left instead of right and going up on top of the dike that circles our polder. Almost every dike has a road or trail on top of it, and this one is no exception. Occasionally cars come along, but most often it is bicycles or people walking like me, often with their dogs. Walking high up on a dike with a dog at your side is very nice and I will miss it.

We walked most of the way in solitude, with only an occasional biker going by. At one point a man came along riding quite fast, and his large dog was running just out ahead of him. The dog passed us on our right and the man approached on our left. The dog paid no mind to Maury as he ran by, but Maury lunged out towards him, and then must have become twisted around by his leash because the next thing I heard was a yelp. Maury had flipped himself about 270 degrees into the path of the bike, and was hit. The whole thing happened in an instant, and I only heard it because it was all behind me. Fortunately the bike rider didn’t fly over his handlebars. He had stopped and was very concerned about Maury, who had a visible tire track imprinted onto his side. Maury was bit gimpy on his back legs, but seemed all right. I told the man it was okay, and he said, “No, I do not think it is okay. I think he is hurt.” We looked at Maury for a while and he was a bit shaken by the whole thing, but still seemed okay to me. “It’s okay,” I said, and once again the man said, “I don’t think so. I think you should take him to see a vegetarian.”

I smiled inside at this wonderful moment of translation misfortune. Maury is okay, he’s sitting next to me in a room full of moving boxes as I write this, and we have to go see the veterinarian (who may or may not be a vegetarian) tomorrow anyway, to get a certificate that will allow Maury to fly. We went to the “dierenziekenhuis” (animal hospital – do you see the word is more or less dieren (animal) sick house?) a few days ago to get the certificate, since the instructions on the internet said you must have the certificate signed within ten days of travel. When we got there, they wouldn’t do it, they said it must be within three days of travel. Sort of like when we went to City Hall on Friday to “un-enroll” as residents of Dordrecht because their web site said you must un-enroll within five days of leaving and were told when we got there we must come the day before we leave. For one last time we have been getting slapped around by the world of bureaucracy, and I can assure you this is one thing we won’t miss about living here.

We’re pretty much packed and I only have to take apart our infamous box spring and move it downstairs and then reassemble it. The movers come on Tuesday and Tuesday evening we are heading to Amsterdam because we fly out fairly early Wednesday morning. I can hardly believe I am going to be able to watch March Madness next weekend! I’m excited about that, and excited to be with Amanda (who is in the US for a wedding) and Jesse again. It feels really good to be going home.

This has been a grand adventure with twists and turns I never could have imagined, and I cannot adequately express how much my life has been enriched by doing this. I am very grateful to have had this European experience. There is a famous quote by Thomas Wolfe that you can’t go home again, and we all know of course you can, that we go home every day. But what that quote means, I suppose, is you can’t go away and do something where you grow and change and expect to go back to where you came from and just fit in to your old life. I believe that is generally true, and expect it to be specifically true for me. So, G Rap, I am coming home, but I don’t think I am the same person, and, as Stanley Kunitz so eloquently said in The Layers, “I am not done with my changes.” Maybe that will be the fodder for another blog or something…I’m not going to post anymore on this one since this adventure is ending. Thanks for reading.