Diary of Our Last Day in Amsterdam

Last Day in Amsterdam - Count-Down Chart

06:23 – Eyes wide open; unable to sleep. The alarm had been set for 7:00, but my adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to get up and at ’em for my last day in Amsterdam

06:55 – Wrangle super-heavy washing machine from our bathroom, through the hallway, out the front door, and out to the sidewalk where it can be picked up by the trash collection service (whose stated deadline for pick-up is 07:30). Before the trash collectors can ever pick up the defective item, it is hauled away by two Turkish men in a van — presumably for parts or hopeful of repairing it for their own use. The urban carrion phenomenon (a.k.a. “trash picking”) has always fascinated me, all the  way until the last day in the city.

07:34 – Kids get up; normal morning stuff

09:08 – Kids watch “Free Willy” on our portable DVD player, while Marci cleans and I pack each bag to the full limits of United Airlines checked baggage policy (50 pounds / 23 kilograms). We have 5 large 50-pound suitcases and 4 medium-sized suitcases that will be carry-on luggage. Plus our backpacks / “personal items.” You don’t want to be one of the other passengers looking for overheard storage space in our section of the airplane.

10:40 – I’m finished packing in time to watch the last ten minutes of “Free Willy” together with my kids. The climactic closing scene — where Willy the Killer Whale leaps to his freedom over the harbor’s imposing stone partition — makes me cry. I’ve felt surprisingly unaware of my emotions over the last several days, but instances like this reassure me that all the emotions are there, just a little bit below the surface.

11:11 – Me and the kids go to play soccer at the “Johann Cruijff Court” in our neighborhood, while Marci does more cleaning. The boys beat me 4-2 in our final “match” on this beloved  playing space.

12:16 – Rendezvous back at our house with the GCM-Netherlands staff team for a picnic lunch. It’s drizzling and cold (mid-60s Farenheit), so we end up having the picnic on the floor of our empty dining room.

Last Day in Amsterdam - GCM-NL Family

14:40 – The thrift shop van arrives to cart away the items that we couldn’t otherwise sell or give away: plastic lawn chairs, kitchen appliances, Elliot’s loft bed, etc. They wouldn’t, however, take our television set, so we set it on the curb with a sticker advertising that it still works and within 15 minutes the urban carrion have again done their work

15:01 – I walk to the post office to drop off our cable television media-box, and then I stop by the bank to take care of some last-minute business. Walking home in the rain and cold, I remind myself that I’m going to be yearning for this kind of “Amsterdam weather” again by the end of the week, after a few days back in blistering 90-degree temperatures in Ohio.

17:30 – Dinner. The kids have microwaved pannekoeken (Dutch pancakes) from the grocery store. Marci and I have left-overs from the fridge. Almost everything that remains uneaten after our dinner (which is, honestly, not much at all) is thrown away. The fridge remains empty except for a few breakfast items.

18:42 – The kids take baths. Marci and I do more cleaning and packing. A few neighbors stop by to say their last good-byes. We call to arrange for a taxi to take us to the airport in the morning (7:30 pick-up).

20:20 – Kids in bed. Prayers for a safe journey.

21:30 – Packing and cleaning are as finished as possible for the night before. Marci and I have nothing left to do but answer some e-mails, read a book, and do some blogging. Tomorrow is the day of our Big Move to Ohio Ready or not, here we come!

[Note: the events summarized here above are based on real events, but with an eye towards story-telling rather than a documentarian’s eye for detail; that is, the times and details listed have been approximated for effect]

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