On not having a car

I’ve been in Amsterdam for over 5 weeks now and I’m just starting to get my balance. I moved out of temporary housing and into my own apartment yesterday which is always an important part of getting used to a new place. After uprooting myself three times in three years, I’ve learned a lot about moving, the stages one goes through and that everything will work itself out. Eventually. This time was a little more work because I got rid of all of my furniture, my car, and I thought I cut down on my possessions significantly. But now that I’m in the new furnished place I’m realizing I will have towels and bedding coming out my ears. Plus who needs 2 kitchen trash cans? That is once my belongings are finally delivered just over 6 weeks after they were picked up in Miami.

I bought a bike and a hair dryer my first day here and I’ve been riding the bike everywhere, embracing the Amsterdam norms. Yesterday was the first time I really missed having a car as I realized I’d left my blackberry charger in the temporary apartment and the only real solution was to bike over this morning then take the metro on to work. All told, this took me two hours to accomplish. Wheee! But I do feel like I’m undoing my carbon footprint at least a little after 16+ years of always having a car. Then again, I still fly in planes so who am I kidding? Plus the Dutch wrap everything in plastic – individual bell peppers, 2 slices of cheese in the lunch room – and they have no plastic recycling.

Another difference – when it’s you’re birthday it is customary to bring cake to serve to all of your colleagues. They get you a gift, but you bring the sweets. This means there is cake 1-3 times a week. Oh, and I share a large room with 3 other people and whenever one person gets up to get a drink, they ask if anyone else wants anything – and they mean it! They get drinks for each other all day. It’s taking a bit of a mental shift to not be as self-centered, I mean “in-the-zone,” as I’m used to being.

I’m going back to Texas for the holidays – the office closes mid-day on the 24th and reopens on January 5th. I must admit I like that part. Any ideas on how I should spend my 5 weeks of vacation next year??