With a bursting bladder, I run across Utrecht Central station. I need to pee like a hippo. The carpool of BlaBlacar (the carpool edition of AirBnB) turned out to be absolutely fantastic. At 4 `O Clock sharp, a big ass Mercedes was waiting for me at Frankfurt Central Station. After a smooth drive with an average speed of 160 km/hour on the German highway, I was back in the Netherland within the blink of an eye. The only downfall? Due to a tight schedule of one of the fellow passengers, there was no time for toilet breaks. Despite the fact that my bladder had gained the strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger after all the long bus rides in South America, it had definitely reached its limits now.
While running towards the main hall, I notice how strange it is to be back. Everything on the train station is still so familiar. I still know the way to all the platforms, the shops, the cafès, the colours, everything is the same. Everything is so neat and tidy, so well put in place. Not a spot of dirt on the floor. People are walking in straight lines. There`s no shouting. No salesmen that harass me.
“Lo Siento señora, dondè esta el baño?”, I ask one of the railway assistants. She turns around and looks at me with highly raised eyebrows. “Sorry honey, but this funny language you`re speaking right now, does not occur in my vocabulary. This is the Netherlands and we speak Dutch here.” she says with a strong Amsterdam accent. Suddenly I realise I was talking Spanish to her. It`s almost unnatural for me to speak Dutch on the street. “I`m so sorry Madam, it`s been a short couple of nights. I was just wondering where the bathroom is.”, I continue in Dutch. The lady still looks at me with a suspicious expression on her face. “Straight ahead honey, just across platform 8. On the left side. You need to bring change, so make sure you have some Euros in your pocket.”
Ten minutes later and with a happy bladder, I step in the train toward Schiphol airport. I look around. Everybody is talking Dutch, everybody looks Dutch, acts Dutch. I spend the whole train ride looking around. Taking it all in.
Before I know it, the train already stops at the airport. With butterflies in my stomach of excitement, I get off the train. I`m so excited to be back that I skip every other step, jumping my way up to ground level. I can see my parents from a distance. I run towards them. Big kisses and hug all over. What an unbelievable feeling to be home again!
After joining my parents for a little holiday, I finally arrive back home. With my backpack on I walk to my room. I open the door. It`s almost like I never left. Still the same blanket on the bed, that one DVD that I watched before I left is still lying on the cover, just like my favourite books and CD`s. I open up my closet. A massive Christmas feeling overwhelms me. So many cloths, so many options. Of more than half of the items I had already forgotten that I had them...Shirts, tops, skirts, trousers. I look to the right. My backpack is still on the floor. The further I travelled, the more cloths I had given away. At the end, I only had two sets of winter cloths and two sets of summer cloths. Every night I would step underneath the shower with my cloths on, to wash them. Sometimes I was forced to hang them to dry on my backpack when I needed to catch another bus. “My gosh Sanne, with this many cloths, we don`t have to wash for at least two weeks!!” I tell myself out loud and a massive smile appears on my face.
The following weeks I mainly spend with visiting family and friends. It`s an indescribable feeling to be able to hug everybody again, grab their hands, to see them, be part of the conversations. Not just being passed on from one person to the other on the Ipad, but being a real part of it. To sit around the dinner table together, share the same food, reliving the memories and pulling out those typical old-school jokes.
It suprises me how normal it is to be home again. To sit around the dinnertable with everybody. Some of the houses might have changed a bit or even completely, but the friendship is still the same. Also the conversations are still the same. It a strange feeling. From inside I`ve changed so much. I`m so loaded up with stories, that I don`t even know where to begin anymore, let alone my friends and family… and at the same time I didn`t really care. It feels so nice to talk about `normal` stuff again. About that new job, new boyfriends, the cat, the dog, that strange neighbor that still lives next door…
The two months litterly fly past. My date of departure is getting closer and closer. I take the dogs for a last walk around the park. Catch up with some old and new friends and spend as much time as I can with my loved ones. It feels emotional. It`s so nice to see everybody again and hard to say goodbye so quickly. Eventhough I was heart-broken to leave South America and did not look forward to go back to Europe at all… I notice that I find it even harder to leave on my next adventure again. It`s almost like sitting in a warm bath in a cold bathroom. It`s so comfortable that you don`t want to get out and step with your bare feet on the cold tiles. I sincerely wish I could just fit everybody in my pocket and take them with me.
Before I know it, my last day has come. Tonight I`ll take to bus to London, to spend the last weekend there with friends before I fly out to Melbourne. “What would you like to do on your last day?” my mum asks me. “I would love to go to the beach, with the dogs, just like we used to do every Sunday after visiting grandad and grandma,” I tell her with a smile.
It`s a beautiful summer day. There`s a fresh breeze blowing over the beach. The perfect day to freshen up the mind and let the wind take away your sorrows. The dogs are following us with their tails high up and their wet black noses in the wind. They`re not as fast as they used to be, but it is still feels like the old days. To give the day a perfect touch up, we end the hike with a visit to one of the cafès on the beach. Ordering a hot chocolate and some Dutch snacks. “Do find it hard to leave?”, my mum asks me. I feel the tears popping up in my eyes. “Extremely hard mum”. We hug each other. Me, my mum, my dad and the dogs. “I`ll take care of the bill, then we`ll quickly go home and enjoy our last hours together.” My mum suggests wisely.
She returns a few minutes later. With an envelope in her hands. I look at the card. It had the perfect message on it:
To Comfort you
I send you the shells
To Strengthen you
I send you the big sea
I`ll let the Sun embrace you
Please know, you`ll always have me
I give her a big hug. A warm and comfortable feeling falls over me. All the sadness and sorrows fade away. I`m ready now for my next adventure.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto