This morning I waited as the Skype call connected to Gabriel’s cell phone. His day was almost over, and mine was just beginning. Perhaps the thing that makes being apart so difficult is the time difference. When I’m ready to go to sleep at night, after a long day at school, I turn off the light knowing that, across the Atlantic, my boyfriend is about to wake up, eat his hagel slaag, and make his morning commute through Amsterdam.
Today, when Gabriel recounted his walk into the city center of Amsterdam, I felt a pang of something unusual. Jealousy, perhaps?
“Did you see the canals?” I asked, imagining walking along the Keizersgracht on the brick roads, watching as bicycles zip past and trams whiz by.
“Yes, they were there…”
“You’re so lucky.”
The thing is, Amsterdam affected me like no other place in the world. I have such a clear recollection of the tiniest details of the city. The textures, the smells, the sounds…I absorbed them all at such an intense level. When Gabriel describes how he ventured to De Bijenkorf for a new blanket, or scoured the Kalverstraat for some new video game, I can’t help but conjure up all of the images that my mind was so hyper-sensitive to for the last year.
“You’re so lucky,” he said. “You’re there with your family and the people that are the most special to us in the world.” And he is absolutely right. Perhaps, for now, Gabriel gets to experience the intricately gabled homes, rocking boats, and oliebollen stands and I get to experience daily life with my family.
So today I learnt what he bought at the Albert Heijn, and he learnt about my holiday party last night, but most importantly, we reminded each other to appreciate where we are, at this very moment in our lives; even if it is 6,000 kilometres apart.