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I can laugh now.

After the frustration of Amsterdam, I can smile.  I usually do after I’ve hit the top of the irritability pop charts.

Actually, it didn’t take me long to get over it.  Once I knew the parameters of my situation, I relaxed.  Even though I ended up spending $1400 I wasn’t expecting from missing my flight, I was able to calm myself without trying.  Sometimes I think it’s the frustration of instability, of not knowing what’s going to happen that upsets me the most.  That and my rampant stupidity!

Anyway, after I took care of everything at the airport, I went back to my hotel, the Ibis.  The concierge, Michael (my hero) had placed refreshments and two vouchers for two free drinks in the lounge for each of the nights I’d be there in my room.  Accompanying these were a note saying he hoped it would ease my frustration.  He has no idea how much that little bit of consideration did to make me smile.  I wrote a letter of recommendation to his manager.  I have to tell the world, that I was SO impressed with this hotel.  I wrote a letter of recommendation.  I will sing the praises of this hotel chain forever and will continue to use them.  If your’e going to Europe, check them out.

Anyway, with my extra time, I decided I wasn’t going to sit in the hotel.  I would have gone back over the frustration and stewed in my room.  Instead I opted to go to Haarlem to see the Corrie ten Boom Huis.

For those of you who don’t know, Corrie ten Boom lived during WWII.  She, her sister and father were a devout Christian family who saw what was happening during the German occupation and took in several Jews and hid them in a specially built room in their house next to their watch shop.  Somebody ratted them out and all were sent to concentration camps where Corrie’s sister and father perished.  Corrie survived.

Ms ten Boom wrote a book, The Hiding Place, which was turned into a motion picture back in the mid-seventies.  I read the book and saw the movie.  It starred Julie Harris and Eileen Heckart and was a moving tale of the Holocaust.  I was anxious to see her house.

Well, it was Monday and it was closed.  My diamond-level luck reared it’s head once again.  Instead, I walked the streets of Haarlem, a wonderful little city with a quaint downtown.  I’ve decided that I’m coming back to the Netherlands at a time when the weather is better.

I want to explore Haarlem some more and I want to visit the tulip farms and windmills.  I also want to observe the famous dikes that protect the Netherlands from tsunamis, floods and tidal waves.  Much of the nation is below sea level and they have managed to thrive and evolve into one of the most advanced nations on earth.  America can’t even protect New Orleans properly.

The flight to Los Angeles was smooth as silk.  Again, we went near the Pole, over Greenland, rather than over the Rockies.  In Los Angeles, I ordered a hamburger and a Bloody Mary in a restaurant across from my boarding gate–no way was I gonna miss another flight.  However, my daffiness wasn’t left in Amsterdam.  I got up to check the gate to make sure boardings hadn’t started.  I turned and bumped my table sending my Bloody Mary and my glass of water all over the chair and the floor. I stood there and stared.  Seated next to me were, ironically, two Delta employees.  I mumbled something about being exhausted from an international flight to salve over my embarrassment.  I had to blame something.  I was tired of being stupid.  Please get me home.

Well, I’m home now and feeling like things are back to normalcy.  I’m getting errands done, bills paid and laundry cleaned.  Strange, though.  As I was involved in my return, I couldn’t wait to get home.  Now that I’m here, I want to be back in Europe.

I feel disconnected here.  I miss stepping outside the door and having a dozen restaurants to choose from on my block.  I miss walking a few feet to the pharmacy.  I miss walking and having something interesting to observe rather–architecture, cathedrals, cobblestone streets.  All I have here is vanilla suburbia.  I have to drive to get groceries.  Accomplishing errands takes all day.  My former iteration in the corporate world would find me sometimes taking a sick day in order to get my personal responsibilities accomplished.  Running around town and around Greater Portland takes time.

Although, while I enjoy the exotic sound of differing languages, there’s something to be said of being able to understand what’s being said around me.  But that is tempered with disgust I feel hearing the typical American vernacular of “like”, “whatever”, “you know” and the classic “dude”.  Somebody spoon out my eardrums.

At least my cold is over, even if I did develop one of those nasty cold sores.  Happened last time I spent any real time in Amsterdam–fourteen years ago at this very time.  I hate these things; reminds me of flesh eating bacteria.  Whenever I speak to someone in person, I feel I must qualify my appearance by saying, “I really am a clean person.”

But I’m home and getting my groove back.  Still not at 100%.  Feeling tired and it’s too early to sleep.  With every trip to Europe it takes a  bit longer to recoup.  I’ve accepted that.

And my luggage didn’t get to Portland before me.  Turns out that, on international flights, if you don’t board, neither does your luggage.  My luggage took the same route I did, although it arrived on a different flight in Portland.  It was delivered at 5:00 a.m. this morning.

But I’m home.

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