We moved. Finally. On Friday July 1, we rented a
truck, a very small truck. We packed the few things we brought which
were the four suitcases of clothes we carried in, several cartons
that my sister and brother-in-law sent after the move, some books,
and some computer gear. In the eight months weve been here, we have
accumulated more things like some more clothes, some more books, and
even a really nice chair. The temporary place had one couch and some
dining room chairs so we needed something to sit on. Four trips or
so of about four blocks one way in this very small truck did the
trick. That, and a one way trip by foot with a coat rack that
wouldnt fit in the truck.
The new apartment was not actually ready for us.
As I pulled up the first time to unload, the workmen were still
there and the place had not exactly been cleaned up. The owner lives
on one side of us and also owns the apartment on the other side
which is vacant and he told us to stay there until we got settled.
We also couldnt use our kitchen due to lack of utensils,
silverware, dishes, and other niceties, so they told us to use the
restaurant/tea room below us for all our meals and it was on them.
While you were all watching fireworks and having barbeques, we spent
the weekend indoors cleaning up. Actually Lynn did most of the
cleaning up as I was paying the price for lifting the cartons and
carrying them up the stairs. Lynn said she spent more time on her
knees that weekend than one of those famous ladies in Amsterdam.
Monday, July 4, 2005, Independence Day in the
United States, Moving Day in Delft. The truck with all our things
showed up at about 9 a.m. The skies with the heaviest rains we had
seen in months showed up at about 8 a.m. The entrance to our
apartment is a narrow hallway that leads to a narrow, curved
staircase. Its treacherous footing on those stairs when carrying
nothing and its too narrow to get large furniture in. Paul, our
landlord, took out the front window and the movers built a makeshift
elevator. This is how moving is done here. Then they brought in the
cartons. And they kept on bringing them in. And the rain kept on
coming down. One of my dear friends, and she knows who she is, is a
woman relatively new to the U.S. We had a running joke about
Americans having so much "stuff." We pack our "stuff," unpack our
"stuff," and haul our "stuff" around from place to place. When we
get older we have a whole lot more "stuff" than we had as kids. When
I was in the navy, I moved to San Diego and carried all my "stuff"
in a Volkswagen. That wont happen again.
We got rid of a lot of stuff before we came here.
We sold quite a bit of furniture and I really didnt think we had
brought too much. As we unpacked and arranged everything, it became
apparent that furniture wasnt the issue; it was everything else. We
collected mugs from places we visited. We disposed of some before we
left and got rid of some more now. Some will remain packed. We got
rid of clothes but theres not enough room for what we have so some
more will be disposed of and some will remain packed. We brought
three sets of dishes: the good set, the everyday set, the Christmas
set. What were we thinking?
This is all very ironic because of the reason
that this apartment became available to us. The landlords are Paul
and Loes who own three shops downstairs, the aforementioned tea
room, a notions shop, and the splendid chocolate shop. Yes, world, I
live above a chocolate shop! Paul and Loes and their three kids had
lived in our apartment for fifteen years or so. Their two oldest
kids recently moved out and only the youngest was left, so they
thought they could use a smaller apartment. So here are Lynn and I,
just the two of us, having space problems in a place that five
people lived in, presumably comfortably, for many years. They must
have had less stuff. We, after all, are Americans. Stuff is our
middle name. USA. What did you thing the S stood for, anyway?
Our street is something out of a movie set. Its
about one city block long with stores along all the ground floors,
and apartments above. Within 100 feet of our door is the
supermarket, the drug store, the cleaner, the flower shop, a book
store and this doesnt include Paul and Loess shops. Farther down
the street are a consumer electronics and appliance store and
several more restaurants of various ethnicities. Hair salons and the
video store are just around the corner. The street is a pedestrian
block almost all the time. Early in the morning, delivery trucks
come in but during the day when the shops are open, its pedestrians
and bikes only. In the evening when the shops are closed, there are
still no cars so from our apartment we frequently hear the sounds of
voices but except for the occasional small motor scooter which makes
more noise per mile than anything, its very quiet, even when its
crowded with people. Just past the end of our street about a block
away is the Oude Kerk
(Old Church) which leans considerably more than the Leaning Tower of
Pisa, and straight ahead, over some rooftops in the Markt (sic)
Square is the
Kerk (New Church) which has a spire more than 300 feet high
pretty impressive for something built about 1510. The top third of
the spire is visible from the window in our third floor den. The
churches both have bells that toll the hour and half-hour so we
frequently hear the dueling church bells. The Nieuwe Kerk even
occasionally plays tunes that are recognizable. This weekend I heard
"Yellow Submarine" and on July 4 they played "Home on the Range"
along with other Americana. If you look at the map attached to
either of these sites youll see just above the Oude Kerk a street
labeled "Choorstr." Our apartment is on the left side of the street
near the second "o" of "Choorstraat."
So were open for business, or at least for
visitors. When everything gets put away, we will be able to sleep
four guests almost comfortably. Right now its two. We extend an
open invitation to you all to come visit us in our new home and our
new country. We have only two requests. First, please remember that
we live here and we are not on vacation. We still have to maintain
our work schedules but you can feel free to use our home to come and
go as you please. Second, we do not discriminate, even though a
Dutch colleague told me we do. All are welcome, including smokers.
However, smoking is most assuredly not welcome in our home. If you
smoke in our place, you better be on fire. So come on over. Just let
us know when you want to because we do travel a bit on weekends.
That, of course, is the point of this whole quixotic affair.
We look forward to seeing you all.