I’ll miss plowing through you on my bike like I’m on a mission to careen past every idly pedaling Dutch person on a cell phone which, let’s be real, I totally am. I’ll miss your bridges strung with lights and your soft, flaky croissants that make your American counterparts curl up in mortification. I’ll miss your medieval castles and taking trains the wrong way through Holland and getting away with having the wrong ticket because everyone in your country, from policemen to train ticket collectors to grocery clerks, is just really really nice.
I’ll miss riding home late at night, when your streets are dark and empty of people but still full of sedate brick buildings that have been standing watch over nighttime pedestrians for the last three hundred years. I’ll miss drinking coffee in the sun by a canal. I’ll miss eating lunch on the balcony and wandering through stores marveling at the intersection between foreign and familiar. I’ll miss your black licorice and the three story windmill that pointed my way home. I’ll miss the friends I made, the people I met, and the cats I yelled at for sticking their fuzzy snouts in the butter.
I’ll even miss the Red Light District, which totally skeeved me out until I started wondering about the underwear-clad girls posing in those red lit windows. What are their lives like? Why are they there? I wanted to ask them about their stories, what kind of love they have in their lives, and what they think about all this. But I didn’t, because how do you ask something like that?
Living in Costa Rica and Amsterdam for the summer taught me that when I travel, I want to have a specific creative project. Specific to the place and specific to my interests – something to frame my time there and give it more of a purpose. To come home from wherever I was for a month and be able to hold or watch or read this thing I made. A creative souvenir that takes the feelings I had and amazing things I saw and molds them into something I can share.
I wish I figured this out three months ago, but that’s why you live, right? To figure out the things you wish you could apply retroactively to the rest of your life. But you can’t, so you just keep trekking out into the world and hope to whatever sky-dwelling deity you prefer that you remember what you figured out for next time.