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 Amsterdam collage

The station was bustling as we pulled and carried our luggage to the next mode of transportation

 

Patches of color, reflections of character, and locations of travel sewn together with thin thread to carry my belongings

 

One from here, one from there, one blue, one burgundy

 

A city in a day; sore feet from walking down many streets—some cobbled, some paved

 

A ringing in the background; the red asphalt beneath your feet meant only for bikes

 

A street lamp and a sunflower sharing the same sidewalk; its large face happy despite a concrete ground

 

The bright little house sits idly atop the water but below sidewalk level

 

The glass outer wall of the building revealed the colorful walls inside; the collection of colors spelled the name of the building

 

Parks filled with life; pets frolic on the lawns; green grass and trees on perfectly warm days with a cool breeze

 

Soaking wet pants from the storm that rolled in an hour before you awoke; heavy sheets of rain that drench you on your bike ride to class

 

Brick lined alleyways with cobble roads; shutters on the windows and ceramic shingles on the roofs

 

Perfect warm apple cake with hot chocolate; Delft white and blue tiles on the walls; rain sprinkling down

 

A new town and an Uitfest; A Lindy Hop routine with a swing group in the crowd-filled square; Intimidation and nervousness along with support from friends

 

 

Giant built in couches and tables on the beach at a café; an afternoon drink with semi-Dutch contacts as the sun set

 

Rainy, cold travels on a ferry to Texel

 

Waves crashing on the boat, wind burn on your cheeks, students getting sea sick; A Dutch conversation with a woman from Belgium and a fresh catch of shrimp

 

Green hills, red roofs, and grey skies

 

Autumn day; leaves scattered across the ground, crunching under your tires as you pedal forward

 

Music, lights, laugher, and food fill the main square in Amsterdam; we saw the city from above on high, spinning swings

 

The sun setting behind a windmill outside our apartment window; the sky a different color every day

 

Children cooking for their own party; Je moet met je handen kneden

 

Hoera Max! 9 Jaar! Buritto met gehakt, nacho’s, salade, guacamole, en slagroom taart

 

Bikes lean on the bridge railing hoping their fate is not the watery canal below

 

A mosaic of Amsterdam covers the wall within the room; so colorful and bright; little beads and tiles strategically placed

 

A room untouched for 10 years; drawings and paintings left where they were; boat models displayed along the wall; all by my Opa

 

Bitter but kind and hospitable

 

Small Pumpkins carved into faces while sitting on the floor; the smell of burnt seeds from an attempt at stove-top toasting

 

A castle in the mist; briefly, snow flakes fall for the first time; warm, delicious pea soup served on a deep brown wooden table

 

Dinner with friends; laughing, and sharing new Dutch slang

 

Yellow Ginkgos rise high above your head, Rhubarb leaves you could sleep on, thick bamboo clusters, small kiwis and a Butterfly house

 

Thanksgiving; two desks pushed together; potluck dinner with stuffing, fried chicken, (burnt) cornbread, and squash all home made; warm friendship squeezed around the table

 

The walls are splattered with colorful magazine pages, pictures, and maps

 

Painting in the afternoon; a bowl of apricots on the desk; orange and red paint smeared across the page

 

Windmills; spinning tops crush color pigment; the stairs are small and wooden leading to a top deck overlooking green fields

 

Cheerful children frolic in the streets anticipating the coming parade; Zwarte Piet, kruidnoten, and Sinterklaas on his white horse

 

An Oma I never met before; lunch telling stories and reconnecting with a lost relative

 

The Worlds Best Hot Chocolate? Yes! Chocolate filled chocolate bowls to melt in warm bowls of milk

 

Ice skating in the Christmas square; two children in orange and pink full-body suits

 

Aqua tall socks on playful legs; the sun beaming in the window in the early afternoon

 

Red, velvety seats semi-circled around the red curtain; dancing sugarplums, the Mouse King, and an appearance of Sinterklaas

 

Golden wheels of cheese sold in the bustling market: Old, young, mild, and sharp

 

The air was cold outside and inside, but once you were gliding across the ice, all thoughts of temperature vanished

 

I can still smell my room, and freshly baked bread; I see bikes but am still searching for bike lanes

 

On grey days I pretend I am in Amsterdam; though South Carolina is my home,  so is the Netherlands

 

A place to learn a language, make international friends, build social bridges, gain self confidence, and drink morning and afternoon teas

 

A place to be creative, to ride your bike (in your own lane), and to strive for what YOU want

 

A time for growth and independence laced with heritage