Holidays and Corona are a dangerous duo. When Thanksgiving was coming around, I remember standing on an island of jealously watching as my friends fled away to their different adventures. Italy. Germany. Spain. I refused to take flight and stayed rooted to the ground due to my inability to believe that opportunity to venture would have existed. An empty table at Thanksgiving not due to lack of friends, but due to lack of hope and to be honest I am not sure which one was worse. The kitchen swarmed with the swells of classic Thanksgiving sides, a bit of stuffing, some mashed potatoes. You know, the works. The table was set for two.
Maybe it was a bit different than normal, lockdown loomed above our heads so I couldn’t invite friends over, but damn the night was beautiful. I grabbed my suit stuffed some cookies in my backpack, threw beer in the fridge with a schedule to deliver and out I went. My nerves were tangled tight, thinking no one is going to stay. No one is going to drink beer with us and cheers the night away. But boy was I wrong. A group of us stood outside the pool, with slick hair and wrapped in winter coats gradually developing a liquid layer of warmth. The air rang with laughter, storytelling and explaining how somehow, Thanksgiving has become my favorite time to just be glad and gracious. By the time the clock struck 11, my skin was November flushed and I was thinking maybe it’s finally happening, maybe I have friends! This idea, this feeling left me twinkling, biking all the way home despite the sounds of the lockdown crashing down around the country.
The winter COVID surge was well underway, evidence of a lockdown in The Netherlands was nearly guaranteed but we got out in the nick of time. Passports in our hands we jetted off to my homeland. We were New York bound ready to see some faces that we haven’t laid eyes upon in too many moons. What started as a party of four, slowly flourished into a party of six with flights landing at JFK from the Golden State, Holland and Pennsylvania.Trying to beat the jet lag we settled into the nook of the Irish pub where we drank the night away slinging conversations between spaces, reminiscing laughing about how our seventh grade selves could have never dreamed up this reality.
We hung our hats early that night, just before the clock struck twelve and laid our dizzy heads on pillows in the city that never sleeps. Over the next few days we galavanted all around Manhattan decking the streets we walked through. Fawning over the New York Public Library, staring into a sparkling city at the Top of the Rock, bopping over to Brooklyn taking in as many beers and cocktails we please just before wandering the twinkling lights in the dykes. Our feet hurt as our internal maps were not always accurate, or shall I say three miles to one person equates 12 miles to the next. Erdem and I were able to meet with friends from Amsterdam for brunch which was gezellig, dare I say?
In blink of an eye we ended up in Pennsylvania where we stayed at the corner of Lake Erie and spent the next two days creating memories with families. Finally meeting the adorable littles of my cousin, story spinning with Mimi and going on Don Herold tour guides through his hometown. If you’re lucky enough to have your parents around, I highly recommend having them take you on a trip down memory lane sometime there’s something special about hometown tales. We braced the wind and shocked the locals at my genuine excitement over snow all the while taking over my Aunt’s kitchen and sipping beer (procured through SHEETZ runs) through the night before meandering to Pittsburg. On our last day in the states we had a whirlwind tour of the City of Bridges where we were inclined to drink many a beers and introduce Erdem to the ever so ridiculous Primanti Sandwich, found a new favorite brewery we strolled to not just once, but twice.
At a time when COVID was running rampant through NYC, we found ourselves filled to the brim with anxiety as we awaited the necessary test results. Turns out this year, I was a bit more lucky than I was last on many counts. The negative tests in our hands, our hearts were bursting yet heavy at the same time saying goodbye to my parents and embarking upon a very long travel day starting in Pennsylvania, stopping for a couple hours in New York and flying back to Holland just in time to ring in the new year.
Leaving is always hard, for me those last few moments in the airport are filled with one syllable words and a shaky voice. I am not sure if it’s only been exacerbated by COVID or maybe it’s just time? Perhaps, it’s the distance that makes the time together more memorable and the goodbyes heavy. But, if you live close to those you love make sure to hold them a bit tighter. Spend some time in the sunshine with them and just pop over to say hello cause there’s quite a few of us out there who can’t do that with such ease. The clock now is set to countdown to June (which is much nearer than I thought, seeing as it did take a couple months for me to FINALLY publish this). Thanks for being patient, take care friends!