An American Couple in Delft
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We Moved!

We moved. Finally. On Friday July 1, we rented a truck, a very small truck. We packed the few things we brought which were the four suitcases of clothes we carried in, several cartons that my sister and brother-in-law sent after the move, some books, and some computer gear. In the eight months we’ve been here, we have accumulated more things like some more clothes, some more books, and even a really nice chair. The temporary place had one couch and some dining room chairs so we needed something to sit on. Four trips or so of about four blocks one way in this very small truck did the trick. That, and a one way trip by foot with a coat rack that wouldn’t fit in the truck.

The new apartment was not actually ready for us. As I pulled up the first time to unload, the workmen were still there and the place had not exactly been cleaned up. The owner lives on one side of us and also owns the apartment on the other side which is vacant and he told us to stay there until we got settled. We also couldn’t use our kitchen due to lack of utensils, silverware, dishes, and other niceties, so they told us to use the restaurant/tea room below us for all our meals and it was on them. While you were all watching fireworks and having barbeques, we spent the weekend indoors cleaning up. Actually Lynn did most of the cleaning up as I was paying the price for lifting the cartons and carrying them up the stairs. Lynn said she spent more time on her knees that weekend than one of those famous ladies in Amsterdam.

Monday, July 4, 2005, Independence Day in the United States, Moving Day in Delft. The truck with all our things showed up at about 9 a.m. The skies with the heaviest rains we had seen in months showed up at about 8 a.m. The entrance to our apartment is a narrow hallway that leads to a narrow, curved staircase. It’s treacherous footing on those stairs when carrying nothing and it’s too narrow to get large furniture in. Paul, our landlord, took out the front window and the movers built a makeshift elevator. This is how moving is done here. Then they brought in the cartons. And they kept on bringing them in. And the rain kept on coming down. One of my dear friends, and she knows who she is, is a woman relatively new to the U.S. We had a running joke about Americans having so much "stuff." We pack our "stuff," unpack our "stuff," and haul our "stuff" around from place to place. When we get older we have a whole lot more "stuff" than we had as kids. When I was in the navy, I moved to San Diego and carried all my "stuff" in a Volkswagen. That won’t happen again.

We got rid of a lot of stuff before we came here. We sold quite a bit of furniture and I really didn’t think we had brought too much. As we unpacked and arranged everything, it became apparent that furniture wasn’t the issue; it was everything else. We collected mugs from places we visited. We disposed of some before we left and got rid of some more now. Some will remain packed. We got rid of clothes but there’s not enough room for what we have so some more will be disposed of and some will remain packed. We brought three sets of dishes: the good set, the everyday set, the Christmas set. What were we thinking?

This is all very ironic because of the reason that this apartment became available to us. The landlords are Paul and Loes who own three shops downstairs, the aforementioned tea room, a notions shop, and the splendid chocolate shop. Yes, world, I live above a chocolate shop! Paul and Loes and their three kids had lived in our apartment for fifteen years or so. Their two oldest kids recently moved out and only the youngest was left, so they thought they could use a smaller apartment. So here are Lynn and I, just the two of us, having space problems in a place that five people lived in, presumably comfortably, for many years. They must have had less stuff. We, after all, are Americans. Stuff is our middle name. USA. What did you thing the S stood for, anyway?

Our street is something out of a movie set. It’s about one city block long with stores along all the ground floors, and apartments above. Within 100 feet of our door is the supermarket, the drug store, the cleaner, the flower shop, a book store and this doesn’t include Paul and Loes’s shops. Farther down the street are a consumer electronics and appliance store and several more restaurants of various ethnicities. Hair salons and the video store are just around the corner. The street is a pedestrian block almost all the time. Early in the morning, delivery trucks come in but during the day when the shops are open, it’s pedestrians and bikes only. In the evening when the shops are closed, there are still no cars so from our apartment we frequently hear the sounds of voices but except for the occasional small motor scooter which makes more noise per mile than anything, it’s very quiet, even when it’s crowded with people. Just past the end of our street about a block away is the Oude Kerk (Old Church) which leans considerably more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and straight ahead, over some rooftops in the Markt (sic) Square is the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) which has a spire more than 300 feet high – pretty impressive for something built about 1510. The top third of the spire is visible from the window in our third floor den. The churches both have bells that toll the hour and half-hour so we frequently hear the dueling church bells. The Nieuwe Kerk even occasionally plays tunes that are recognizable. This weekend I heard "Yellow Submarine" and on July 4 they played "Home on the Range" along with other Americana. If you look at the map attached to either of these sites you’ll see just above the Oude Kerk a street labeled "Choorstr." Our apartment is on the left side of the street near the second "o" of "Choorstraat."

So we’re open for business, or at least for visitors. When everything gets put away, we will be able to sleep four guests almost comfortably. Right now it’s two. We extend an open invitation to you all to come visit us in our new home and our new country. We have only two requests. First, please remember that we live here and we are not on vacation. We still have to maintain our work schedules but you can feel free to use our home to come and go as you please. Second, we do not discriminate, even though a Dutch colleague told me we do. All are welcome, including smokers. However, smoking is most assuredly not welcome in our home. If you smoke in our place, you better be on fire. So come on over. Just let us know when you want to because we do travel a bit on weekends. That, of course, is the point of this whole quixotic affair.

We look forward to seeing you all.

 

2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008