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If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

Earlier columns: July 10 / July 3

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


17 JULI, 2016

Even cowboys get the blues - missing America

DELFT - Getting used to the weather; this ain't Texas. But, there are stores in Delft that have warm clothing so I shopped around. I lean to hoodies. It looked to me as if Dutch dress by the calendar: it's June so shorts and t-shirt. I layered clothes; easy to take off something.

My work in the start-up project changed when it was named The Project, which meant we had more meetings. We now had a Project Manager and Task Managers. I was team, with a small t.

It was then that I began to have a feeling for what others were having to do to speak with me. I needed to learn Euro-English: speaking slowly and clearly.


"I felt like I was on a Hollywood movie set - with a ring-side seat from my bench. But no one ever called 'Cut!' and America was not just outside the studio doors. So, I let myself miss America."

Living upstairs calmed my spirit; because, I could perch on my windowsill and watch people without looking them directly in the eyes. Dutch are an open face people in my view; I mean they simply look right at you. Usually, Americans do not do that.

The stairs in the U.S. are legislated so wide, so deep; I learned how to come down the stairs by watching a repair man descend. It is a kind of duck walk, heels in and toes out at an angle. And it is fast.

Before that, I was Mr. Safety going up and down the stairs. One more thing learned that I thought I already knew. Some days, it felt as if I was relearning everything, and I guess I was.

At work, I was among other foreigners and Dutch who were tolerant of our ways. Fetching coffee for 12 people was strange; Americans rarely do that. Its nice to have someone bring you your coffee, just the way you like it. Odd but nice.

Sitting in the sun on my bench with the windows open was my time for myself. All that passed me seemed peculiar: the pace people walked, their clothes and the sound of Dutch. I envied the way they easily strolled in pairs, arm in arm.

Do Dutch couples have to practise to walk like that so smoothly? How come you never see bikes crash but lots of near misses? What Americans call Personal Space does not seem important here. Why 3 kisses on the cheeks, why not 2 or 4?

A ground floor flat, on the street, with one huge window was too close to Delft. When the upstairs apartment came free later, I moved up. The former renters had a big weed plantation and were busted. I hear 5 is max, seems sensible.

I have friends in the U.S., the kind that are not easy to find. We talked the way people do in their first language, about things we had grown up knowing. Still, having memories of good times with good friends has to be enough.