© Ian (@travelsnips) Photo
Standing in front of her bathroom mirror, she nibbled the side of her cuticle. “Just a small bite,” she muttered to herself. It was a nervous habit that stuck with her since adolescence, she was trying to quit. She also wasn’t quite sure what she had gotten herself into. Her travel…”What do I call him? Errrrmmm, confidante!”, she blurted assertively, turning on the bathroom faucet, running her fingers and inner wrists under the cool stream of water.
They met randomly. Immediately, there was an impenetrable spark, an intensity in the way that they stared deep into each other’s eyes. The ebb and flow of their initial conversation vacillated between a mutual desire to leave the world in a bit better of a place, sprinkled with coquettish nothings and luxurious silence. They were as opposite as they were familiar, and both insatiably curious.
With a spontaneous plan to meet in Amsterdam, their plans changes after he cancelled at the last minute.
She paced down her narrow hallway, her flight was leaving in twelve hours, and she hadn’t so much as thrown three pairs of shoes into her carry-on luggage before deciding to jump ship and rewatch “Sabrina” (1954 version) over a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sitting on her couch, she was flooded with a mix of excitement and nerves. “I barely know how to say ‘I’m lost’ in Dutch…ik ben…ummm….”, she swirled her glass of wine in her hand and tried to recall the sporadic Dutch lessons she took in middle school. “What if my phone dies? What if I get on the wrong train? What if I lose my passport? Errmmmm, what if I accidentally forget my passport?!”. Working herself up unnecessarily, she jogged to her kitchen table, grabbed her passport and sauntered to her room, tossing the passport into her shoe filled bag, “There, avoidable plot twist solved!”
It wasn’t even her first solo trip abroad, but this excursion felt different. At this stage in her adulthood, she was more comfortable exploring new professional opportunities, travelling to new countries and treating herself to lunch while sailing away in the lives of her favorite fictional characters than ever before. She certainly was more excited for a vacation by herself than she had ever felt sharing her emotional needs to a prospective romantic partner (she was suspicious of romantic love anyway).
Two hours later, she filled her favorite carry-on luggage with her favorite ‘worn-everywhere’ fitted jeans, a few versatile (but timelessly chic) shirts, an LBD, yoga clothes, a copy of “Why the Dutch Are Different” (by Ben Coates), essential toiletries, and her reuseable water bottle.
While reviewing her To-do list (it included but was certainly not limited to: giving the cat sitter the spare key, turning off the lights, setting her work email to auto-reply, having an emergency copy of her passport, and booking a ticket to the Van Gogh Museum, and lastly sending her host family an introductory email), she noticed her nerves evaporating as she settled into fantasies of crystal clear canals, fresh Gouda, flower markets and Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. “Ik ben blij (I am happy),” she recalled.
Just like that, she was ready for her next adventure.