As I look at my face in that Zandvoort mirror, a new laugh/pain line forms. If I had the courage to find a Dutch therapist, I’d know what I’d say: “If I met myself in one of your cozy little bars right now, I’d punch me without thinking twice.”
Storm Dennis clears out, finally, and I’m back on the Zandvoort beach to give it one more try. I’m a fair man, and I want to give this place all the benefits of my many doubts. My wife has wisely found another work conference to go to, one that’s blessedly far away from here. My daughter has made it clear that shopping in Haarlem is more fun than chasing sea foam on the beach.
The wind never stops here. It has blown, is blowing, and will continue to blow forever. Sisi’s ghost still tries to hold onto her parasol, the sand movers continue their Sisyphean task, and the meteorologists are already on the lookout of Enid, Ebersol, Egbert, or whatever the hell they’re calling the next “bomb cyclone.”
As I click off another kilometer along the beach, I realize I’m never going to make peace with myself in this place. Not while my back is in tatters, not while my bathroom in Haarlem is itself a bomb cyclone, not while I still can’t understand what a snooker is or does. First world problems, one and all, but requiring attention nonetheless.
’ve decided to settle for a very Dutch sort of victory as I leave Zandvoort. It was cheap. So cheap that the Airbnb owner complained about the deal he gave us. So cheap that Dutch friends raved when I told them the price. So cheap that the Germans might be lured away from “Pension Sisi” and its promises of unlimited Frühstück.
When I fight my way back through the wind to the apartment in an hour, I’ll start putting all of our “vacation” stuff back in suitcases and shopping bags. We’ll call a taxi, and then watch through rain-splattered windows as the waves relentlessly crash onto Zandvoort beach.
What I don’t know yet, because the roar of the wind on the beach is deafening and I can’t hear my cell phone, is that there are three messages waiting for me when I get back to our rental. The hospital needs to redo one of my blood tests because of a labeling error. Our contractor has called to say that the bathroom tile supplier forgot to place our order six weeks ago, so the bathroom project’s delayed at least another week. I will call back and tell him there’s no way we’re staying in Zandvoort any longer. We’ll move back home, and just use the birdbath in the backyard for washing ourselves and our laundry.