And just like that, the first chapter of life in Amsterdam has come to an end. We’re back to being a family that lives together in the same house, but I’ll admit that there is a bittersweetness to our regression to normal. Being together is decidedly better than not being together, but he experience of living between two countries was pretty cool. Now it’s time to let go of that cool for a bit. Our son Sean is going to go back to being bilingual rather than trilingual. No more tracking the snow conditions in the Alps as they grow and recede from the little, oval window of a plane. No more bikes. We’re just an Italian-American family in Siena for now and I guess that we can’t really complain about that at all.
Our exit from Amsterdam was less than graceful. Leading up to our departure Marianna was able to sell off a good amount of stuff. Things like the bed frame, microwave, and plates all found new homes. We were like squatters in our own apartment living without many items considered “necessary ” by most civilised cultures.
I got sick on our second-to-last day. Full-on nausea and vomiting. The plan was to use that day to pack things up, and take care of Sean after daycare so that Marianna could tie up loose ends at her office and attend a final dinner with her colleagues. What actually happened was that I spent most of the day in the fetal position. It took all that I had in me to ride the tram and pick up Sean from daycare without throwing up on anyone.
Many details of our final day are already a bit fuzzy. We managed to fit everything that we had left into 5 suitcases and a few backpacks. The day started early, at 6:00 am. This time it was Sean’s turn for fever and vomit. That would have only been a minor issue were it not for the fact that we had to leave our apartment at 10:00 am and our flight wasn’t until 9:00 pm. We had already begged Sean’s daycare to let us leave our luggage in a corner, near the entrance for the day. The idea was that we’d leave the luggage and Sean at daycare and enjoy a final lunch and stroll through the city. Nope. We rolled our mobile disaster via taxi to daycare for a pre-established party for Sean with all the kids, and then just sat with him on the couch in semi-quarantine for the rest of the day. Did we get all of the other kids sick by showing up to the party? Probably. My belated apologies to all.
On our way to the airport, Sean threw up in our friend’s new car. Heroically, Marianna caught most of it in a bag. Finally, we got on a plane and took a sigh of relief that was two years in the making.
How can I sum up these amazing two years? I don’t think that can in a concise, readable manner. I did my best in writing about our experiences in this blog. I think that I’m safe in saying that we all fell in love, each in our own way, with Amsterdam. It’s not perfect, and I know that. Our rosy view of the city may well have been influenced by the knowledge that our time there would be limited and therefore we didn’t pay much mind to the negative aspects.
I have almost exclusively positive memories of Amsterdam. If I were to limit myself to one word to describe Amsterdam (which is kind of a silly thing to do) I would choose progressive. People in Amsterdam always seem ready for new experiences and unafraid to experiment. Forward is the direction, no matter how weird it looks. Amsterdam’s culture has ancient roots but those roots are constantly adapting to innovation and progress. This is in stark contrast to what I’ve become accustomed to in Italy. Italians bask in the beauty of what their ancestors created and there isn’t much interest in trying to out-do those who came before. Of course, outdoing the Ancient Romans or the Renaissance masters is a rather daunting task. I don’t mean to say that Amsterdam has abandoned it’s past. Not at all. Amsterdammers understand how to use what is old to make new experiences. It’s no surprise that Europe’s largest flea market is in Amsterdam. Everywhere you look, things are old but somehow they feel modern and new.
We already miss a lot of things that just two years ago we didn’t know existed. Thank you to everyone in Amsterdam and Italy who made our experience possible and enjoyable. Will there be more chapters for us in Amsterdam? Probably. What’s unclear is how long they will be.
P.S. – I’m going to continue writing this blog, but it’s obviously going to change in nature. The focus will pivot to my point of view as an American, living in Italy.
P.P.S. Here are some pictures that tell parts of our story in Amsterdam.