I’m in bed by 10:30 PM most nights. I fall asleep within two minutes of turning off the bedside lamp and laying my head on the pillow.

Tonight it’s been two-and-a-half hours.

I cannot sleep. I cannot speak. I feel a compulsion to write — to explode some logjam within me and unleash a torrent of emotion or thought or questioning or something — but I cannot find the dynamite. Or the logjam. Or even the river, for that matter.

I suspect I’m preparing myself for a return to Amsterdam, but who knows? I used the word “exile” to describe myself the other day, talking with my kids about the trip back. Elliot felt the need to correct me. “An exile is someone who’s forced out, Dad. Someone who’s not allowed to go back.” Since I still held a valid passport — and indeed an itinerary and a ticket to ride — I couldn’t possibly be an “exile.”

I applauded him for his vocabulary skills. Pretty good for a twelve-year-old. Still I wonder at that inadvertent word choice. Even while I expect no problems at Schiphol Airport’s passport control, I worry there’s no hope of really going back. Time forces us out, forces us to march onward. For better or, I fear, for worse.

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