September 4, 2012
I am an American living in Amsterdam. A Floridian living in Oud Zuid, to be specific. I married a Dutchman, my Dutchman. We met in Knoxville, Tennesee over a year ago at a wedding of our friends. He stood for the Danish groom. I roomed with the American bride as a student living in Switzerland at a place called l’Abri, a French name that means ‘the shelter.’
His name is Frans, my friend Amelia told me in the car on the way to the bachelorette-bachelor party merge. I rolled my eyes then changed my tune. She was the bride. From where?
From Amsterdam. She said it half gleefully, half apologetically.
At Sassy Anne’s everyone was drinking Pabst and wearing plaid and cut off jean shorts. He was wearing a blue sweatshirt stamped with a white Oxford University, over a collared oxford. He was tall, smiled with kind eyes. I thought, oh, and was silenced.
Eight months later we were walking on train tracks in Knoxville. Frans was very silent, eyes on the tracks ahead, never on me. When he spoke, he said he had to tell me something: that train tracks were like life…and the end, home, around the corner. He stopped to meet my eyes, I want to be the one to walk there with you.
So that’s what we’re doing. We’re taking the rest of the track together, beginning here in Amsterdam.
This morning, as of most of the mornings, I wake up slowly. For six days I have woken in a pretty cream room with a wooden bed (houten bed) and a white, ruffled duvet. Frans is next to me. We look at each other, even giddy through sleepiness. Variations of This is my husband. I am married. He’s all mine float through my mind.
My next thought is a prayer, always similar, always different. The waking, the prayer, and the soft light (zacht licht) come to me at the same time, impressions, reminders that the concrete of the bed and my husband and the apartment isn’t the only real thing. We both know that there is an invisible kingdom for which we work, to which we belong.
Coffee. I sit at the houten tafel with the candlestick legs, inherited from Frans’s parents, looking over the shared courtyard a hundred houses long, cherishing a tree. By the time I have finished breakfast, my journal, filled with notes on the book of Joshua (Be strong and courageous…for I am with you wherever you go…and…I bring rest), I read on the page in my own handwriting:
Write. Learn Dutch. Love Frans.
I think this is mostly what this blog will be about.