You have shrunk down to half your size and have finally realized your childhood dream (nightmare?) to sit on the shelf inside the refrigerator. How many times did I open the door during a game of Hide-and-Go Seek and wish I could hide there. (No one would know! But what if I got stuck? Would the others hear my frozen cries for help?) Don’t worry. You wear woolen socks, Uggs, and a giant woolen scarf around your tiny head.
It is that cold in our kitchen, where I sit to write as Frans meets with two awesome interns in our living room. They are probably enjoying the beautiful tulips Frans gave me ‘just because.” What a thoughtful husband and they are a nice addition of color and reminder of Spring. In the kitchen, I can feel Jack Frost sneaking under the table to try and penetrate through the thick stockings a friend from Alaska gave me.
The keyboard keys feel slick and during writing pauses I still, six months later, play with my wedding bands sliding around my left ring finger. They’re little loser than normal because…hands shrink in the cold.
There is an ever-present mug of coffee by my side in my Delft Blauw mug. Frans and I drink a serviceable brand of coffee—the one in the white bag with the gold lettering—Karel something. The thick coffee (we like it strong) is softened a bit by some creamer, creating a beautiful brown color with a light haze of steam halo-ing the mug. As you can see I’m an addict.
I hear Dutch spoken and I try to make sense of it with the last 100 words I have just recently defined. Today learning Dutch makes me feel like a blind woman who slowly, oh-so-slowly begins to make distinctions of light, darkness, shape, color, and finally detail. I am past the light and darkness and onto the shape and color. No details yet. Probably better for the men in the living room. But soon, no more secrets, Nederlanders. No more secrets.
Appropriately, “North Pole Man” by Over the Rhine croons in the background.
I have to pee but am avoiding the bathroom. I am weird about bathroom matters when others visit.
I can taste the residue of a Time Out chocolate chip cookie. Not just like the real thing, but I have yet to find chocolate chips and we have no oven presently.
It smells like cold clean laundry. We dry things here the old fashioned way, and one load of whites and one load of delicates dries behind me in the kitchen. The clean smell overpowers the coffee smell.
Outside it is a bright gray and inside the colors almost reverberate. They seem brighter in hue compared with the outdoor dimness. Two gigantic oranges sit inside our wooden bowl in the kitchen. One is king of the mountain. The portrait of my parents shine alongside wine bottles. And I sit at the wooden candle-leg fold-out table that once belonged to Frans’s parents.
This is all in one moment.