Monday, July 8, 2013

Rise To The Sun

  The consequence of a month’s non-stop carousel of activity was apparent.  My head unfocused, my body sore from miles of walking with children strapped to my back, and the dirt on my un-mopped floors created a film on my needed-to-be-laundered-slipper-socks.  I shuffled around my kitchen in a daze, sipping coffee, opening the fridge, eyeing the dishes in the sink, asking the contents of the pantry for advice as to where to begin to start my regular routine, but half-heartedly listening to the answer.  Like a sleepy child who had over-exerted herself at a State fair – I was still soaring with the memories created over the past month.  On the flip side, I was also like the parent, facing the mounting tasks of housework and administration neglect.  It was Sunday morning.  The house, in direct contrast of the recent weeks, was quiet.  Although the kids were eating breakfast in the next room, I felt alone.  V was gone.  The heavy front door sighed after V shut it.  He solemnly rolled his suitcase down the sidewalk, leaving his family behind, en route to Amsterdam Schipol Airport.  Destination: America
   We had recently hosted three rounds of visitors: A two-week visit from my Mom, four days of film crew, and then 12-hours after the House Hunters film crew said goodbye, two long-time friends from Waco met V at the airport – extremely excited about their first (ever!) visit to Europe for two weeks.  I matched each visitor’s giddiness armed with train tickets, guidebooks, self-created walking tours, insights into ‘life in Holland’, and a menu plan of home-cooked meals.  I could not believe my luck and good fortune to have a month full of festive daily events and friends from home living and experiencing the day-to-day and with me.  Between my Mom and my friends from Waco, we did it all – the Eiffel tower, tulip gardens, Bruges, the Jumbo grocery store, canal cruises, Amsterdam, Anne Frank House, Delft, the beach, train rides, brunch, canal rides, the library, the Paris Metro, The Dutch Resistance Museum, Baby Girl’s preschool, souvenir shopping, stairs, laundry, the Rijksmuseum tunnel, naps, squeezed into Paris apartment elevators, Amsterdam Centraal Station, home-cooked, delivery, more stairs, De Burcht, dishes, and much, much more.  V’s business trip resulted in him leaving 24-hours after mania-month ended.  I was exhausted, a little sad, and more than a little weary of my 2-week stint in single-motherhood looming before me.  I had no doubts about my ability to get through it alone.  It was the little things he does for me everyday to just make life better that I’d miss the most - like how he makes coffee for me every morning.  With a deep breath, I turned back to the contents of the pantry: the peanut butter in the cupboard told me I was nuts, but things would smooth out in the end. 
  Night 1:  I decided to start things out on a good note:  Go to bed early.  Little Man had other ideas for my strategic planning. Up at 11 p.m., 12 p.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and then the dogs were up with the sun.  Being mid-June in The Netherlands, that would be 5:00 a.m.  Side-note: There are two things that people just can’t understand unless you’ve been through them:  1. The mental and physical anguish that comes with hearing your baby scream through the middle of the night due to teething (and in turn, not only does your heart just reach out to your pained sweetie - your sleep is limited to 2-hour increments if you’re lucky, which kind of jacks with your mental well-being as well).   2. The exhaustion that comes with a sun that sets at 11:30 p.m. and rises at 5:00.  I get it.  I do.  On paper, it’s like, what’s the big deal?  But really, it’s weird.  The yin-yang, the rest-energy cycle, or whatever it is, is  All.  Out. Of. Whack. Too much light is too much energy which means not enough rest.  Animals feel this energy imbalance, so while the clock may say one thing, reasoning with dogs is about as effective as reasoning with a 20-month-old.  Yeeeeeaaaahhh.  The next morning at playgroup, I was about as social as a floor lamp. 
Meanwhile. . . .  (Side pan to V arriving in America with two Dutch co-workers).  Dutchmen: “Oh no! Our luggage has been lost!  What’s this?  A voucher to go buy clothes?!  But it’s Sunday night at 8:00 p.m?  Oh, you mean stores are OPEN at 8 p.m.?!?  Even on a SUNDAY?!?!  What is this wonderful place you speak of where you can get anything you need including business attire?  Kohl’s?!?  Whoo-hoo!  We LOVE AMERICA!” 

Pan back. . . the rest of the week was fine.  Quiet.  I replaced our usual background noise of ESPN America with a host of my favorite feel-good movies – You’ve Got Mail, Can’t Hardly Wait, Sabrina (the original – with Audrey Hepburn), and threw in Swingers for good measure.  I took care of the kids.  I took care of the house.  I made dinner.  I took the kids to the park, the library, the museum.  I invited girlfriends over for dinner.  I even booked a sitter and went to Book Club. . .

Meanwhile. . . (Side pan to V eating at Friday’s with two Dutch co-workers)
Dutchmen: “What is this?  Spinach-Artichoke dip?!?  This is AMAZING. . . Yum, yum, yum. . . What do you mean ‘you’re sorry it took a while to bring us the appetizer?’ yes, perhaps it took more than 5 minutes. . . this is ‘a while’?  Oh okay. . . what is this FREE word you speak of?  FREE SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP?!?!?  Whoo-hooo!  We LOVE AMERICA!” 

Pan back. . . I decide to get brave.  Or desperate.  After going to the market by ourselves on Saturday, I just felt a little sad.  It may sound silly, but buying cheese with Daddy is a Baby Girl and Daddy tradition, not a Mama and Baby Girl thing.  After a week of broken sleep and trying to make the best of things in Leiden and after being a bit jealous that V was hanging out with my Dad in Dallas on Father’s Day, I reminded myself to make the most of it.  On Sunday, I finally gained enough courage, after a year-and-a-half decided to put the double stroller (and two kids) on the train by myself, and we headed to Amsterdam. . .

Meanwhile. . . (Side pan to two Dutch co-workers hanging out a hotel pool with Texas girl they met at bar during previous night.  V, is off-stage, hanging out with my family) Dutchman: “Hallo my Texas Angel – you’re quite sociable! You actually talk to me and make eye-contact.  What is this, go-to-bar-and-meet-girls-thing I’ve fallen into?  In The Netherlands we just go-to-bars-to-drink-and-talk-to-guy-friends. . . this is so EASY and you are SO tan and SO friendly!!!  Whoo-hooo!  I LOVE AMERICA!!!!”

Pan back. . . Amsterdam was cool. . . let’s keep on this get-out-of-town-thing. . . let’s go to Utrecht kids! Let’s check out the Music Box museum and have a picnic in the park. . .

Dutchman Pre-Boomstick consumption
 Meanwhile. . . (Side pan to V with two Dutch co-workers at a Texas Ranger’s baseball game with my best friend, Nikki and her cousin, Cody)  Dutchman: “What is this?  A Boomstick?  This is a 2-foot long hotdog covered in chili and cheese?  What do you mean you will buy me a beer if I eat this whole thing, Cody?!  Oh okay – I am up to your challenge (munch, munch, munch)  Ugh. . . I ate this whole 2-foot-chili-cheese-dog-that-was-so-lekker-but-now-I-feel-like-crap-where’s-my-beer?”
After Boomstick consumption

Pan back. . . I’m losing grip on my momentum.  The floors I have not mopped in six weeks are screaming for a clean.  I don’t have any swiffer refills (it’s different here, yes, they have Swiffer, but no bottles.  You buy pre-wet pads and stick them on your mop.)  I decide to old-school it with a pad and a bucket.  Things I learn. . . when it’s 93% humidity and you mop your floors in an environment without central A/C (a.k.a. without any air circulation. . . ) it will take HOURS for the floors to dry.  I feel like Meg Ryan in French Kiss (which of course, I’ve recently viewed in V’s absence) who cleans out her computer keys with a Q-tip while her fiancĂ© is overseas. . . totally. . . lame. 

Dutchman Bull Riding in Uptown Dallas
Meanwhile. . . (Side pan to V living it up in Dallas Uptown Bars with more of our mutual friends. . . without kids. . . ) Actually, I don’t even know or want to know what happened. . . I’m happy he got to hang out and see everyone. . . he was glowing sunshine every time I talked to him on the phone. . . it’s good for him.  It really was.  Yeah.  I’ll keep telling myself that. . .   

Pan back. . . It’s Saturday morning.  Months ago V signed Baby Girl up for dance class, with the intention of taking her every week.  He wanted it to be their bonding-time together, while I stayed at home with Little Man, which is endearing and cute.  Unfortunately, if he’s out of town, that means I’m rushing around before 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday, trying to get three of us out the door so she’s there in time before the class starts because girls running around speaking Dutch kind of freaks her out if we’re not there on time. . . “We’ve got to move it move it!” I chant as the front door closes with a sigh. . . and I hear the sound of a suitcase being rolled down the sidewalk.  V appears a second later, in front of our house.  I smile, relieved.  “Hi.  I missed you.  I’m so glad you’re here.  Drop your bags and jump in the car – it’s time to go to dance class.” I fire rapid instructions to him.  “The coffee I made this morning was horrible - it’s the color of iced tea.  I was doing ok, making it for myself, but I added more water because I knew you’d be here soon, but not enough grounds.”  I throw Baby Girl’s ballet slippers into the car and snap Little Man into his car seat.  I’m a machine of efficiency at this point.  “No problem,” he shrugs, “Let’s take her to dance class and go to Starbucks,” he shakes his head with an undertone of arrogance in his voice. “What?  Starbucks?  You know how overpriced that is?  Oh wait. . . where have you been for the past two weeks?”  He smiled.  We dropped Baby Girl off at dance class and indulged in the Starbucks coffee at the train station.  A nod to the present and past – time to get back to routine in our Alternate-Reality.              

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