It’s amazing how fast removal men can turn your home into a stack of boxes and bubble wrap.
This is at the end of day one, after 3 guys turned up at 7:30 AM and set to work.
In the end, it the difficulty wasn’t stopping them from packing everything that wasn’t nailed down – there were some things we had to force them to take. “I didn’t think you’d want these,” one of them said about our barbecue, a saw and some wind chimes, “so I didn’t pack them.” We tried to persuade him to think again, but he left after lunch and we had to persuade someone else that we really wanted to keep them.
It’s kind of strange to see all your worldly goods reduced to a series of packages. A sobering thought. They are just things after all.
When the van was finally loaded the 30m3 capacity turned out not to be quite enough, and for a moment I thought they were going to leave the bed behind. But everything went and there was nothing to do but clean up and get out of there. When am I going to get over the fact that I didn’t feel anything much even then?
But there’s no point in being sad about something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. And it’s hard to get excited when everything is disappearing into storage. Already I miss my things, and it’s the stupid things I miss, like the lid that fits all sized pans that you can use even when frying (I need that a lot, it turns out), and the slide viewer. Not to mention all those books. I could do with my desk, only I have nowhere to put it so these days I work at the dining table. Whatever, they’re just things and I’m learning to get along without them.
But I wasn’t planning to talk about any of that. None of it is important. What I really wanted to talk about were the heroes that made our last few days in Amsterdam, not just bearable, but great.
Sisi who rescued us by fighting her way through the boxes and bringing lunch from our favourite soup place.
Stewart, who we spent our last night in Amsterdam with and shared a good many laughs over beer and biefstuk.
And finally that moment came. On that last night when we were out with Stewart, we bumped into Tanja, enjoying a quiet drink with her daughter, and I suddenly realised that this was it, those moments of bumping into friends in the street, or in favourite bars, were gone. We’ll meet again, I’m sure of that. I’ll come to visit and she’ll stay with me in my new home one day. But those priceless moments of happening on each other by chance are gone for good and I suddenly felt the loss not of a city as such but of the people it contains. I think Tanja saw it too, and I gave her a hug and hurried away before one of us dissolved into tears.
Damn you Amsterdam, just when I thought I was over you it turns out I will miss you after all.