A little bit of permanence

This morning I moved into our new, “permanent” apartment. Two wonderful friends arrived at my “temporary” apartment with their station wagon and drove me and my four suitcases and one shopping bag a few blocks away. We carried everything in one trip,  and I was moved in. With that done in about 20 minutes, we had plenty of time for a coffee and sweets at my new local bakery. When friends ask you to help them move, THAT’S the kind of move you hope for.

The search for a nice, furnished, 2-bedroom apartment in a good location in expat-flooded Amsterdam was a bit of a challenge. We had a big disappointment when our first apartment fell through – we ended up losing about 2 weeks while we waited for the owner and the agents to sort things out only to have it fall apart. That left me scrambling to find a home, and having to do so without my dear husband here to help.

Happily, I think things worked out pretty perfectly in the end. We have a beautiful place  that looks out on to a quiet canal, opposite the Gassan Diamond Factory. It’s open and light, with a retractable glass wall that makes inside feel like outside. It’s got a nice guest room (hint, hint) and a little terrace.  We are in a great location, close to museums and parks and the city center, but outside of the touristy mess. I’ve unpacked and bought some staples, and I’m learning how to use yet another set of foreign appliances. I found English manuals for the microwave/combi oven and the induction cooktop, but only Dutch for the programmable thermostat. Luckily the weather is warming up.

Having a place that is “ours” makes a big difference to me. Yes, we’re just renters, and this, too, is a temporary apartment. Still, this is a place we chose. It is a place we can make our own, even if it’s just in small ways. The owner’s decorating tastes run to modern furniture and Asian art, a far cry from our Victorian home in Massachusetts. But it’s our wedding photo now on the bookshelf in the living room, and those are our coats by the door.

It’s night here, and the canal is dark and the apartment is very quiet. (While it is “our” apartment, I’m still here on my own for a few more weeks, waiting for my hubby to join me.) I’m sitting in a comfy red chair in the corner of the living room, getting used to the sounds of the neighbors and listening to the apartment settling around me, as I am settling into it. I’m a bit lonely tonight, to be honest – a side effect of moving to a place where I know about four people.

But from this chair in the corner, I’ve got a view of the whole first floor. As I look around, I can see the big glass wall open on a sunny summer afternoon, filing the space with light and a breeze and the soft sounds of the canal. I can see friends gathered around the kitchen table or having a drink on the terrace. I see the front door opening to welcome visitors. I see new friends stopping by. I see reunions and I hear laughter and I know that memories are to be made here.

So maybe it’s temporary, or permanent, or both, or something in-between. And maybe it doesn’t matter. For the time being, it is home. And I can’t wait to share it.

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