Last we I mentioned briefly that I have some thoughts on “Welcome to Holland“. Dana Nieder (firstname.lastname@example.org), over at Uncommon Sense talks about it too, in her post Amsterdam International.
Well that’s all well and good, but from someone who is still at the airport, here are my 10 thoughts. I reserve the right to feel differently about this as time passes.
1. I have been to Amsterdam International. As a hub, people leave there all the time to head to other places. It’s a kick ass airport. Schiphol. I won some money in the casino there. I have fond memories. The experience of learning my child has a lifelong syndrome is nothing like the experience of skipping my boozy self through Amsterdam International.
2. I’m pretty easy going. If I was planning a trip and ended up somewhere else, I’d be a little put out but I’d go along with it. I’m all for ‘off the beaten path’. At this time, I feel much more like I was supposed to go on a a fabulous journey (one filled with hard work, granted…a volunteer-cation perhaps?) and instead I just had to stay at work. There are rewarding things about work – I know that – a job can be very fulfilling. But right now, instead of big bowls of pasta (in the Italy example) or Windmills (in the detour to Holland) all I see is my suitcase on the bed, piled high with research and forms and contacts and what have you. It’s not like being stuck at an airport, it’s like being stuck at customs.
3. There is a lot of waiting. It’s not like your flight has been redirected and you skip off the plane somewhere else, are warmly greeted and you’re free to make your way out of the airport. I feel like they said you’re going to Holland but the airspace is closed so we’re going to land in Italy, put you on a bus and a train and a donkey and eventually, (no idea when, you’ll just have to wait and see, time will tell, be patient) you’ll see some windmills and you’ll know you’ve arrived. The diagnosis is the only definitive answer you get (if you get a diagnosis at all).
4. You have a lot of places to be. In ‘Holland’ there is a ton of bureaucracy. And there is no one to translate it. And you’re on your own. It’s even like the airport has no one working in it.
5. Both these essays leave out second time travelers entirely. If you’ve already been to Italy, and now you’re suddenly in Holland, you can’t help but compare the 2 trips. And let’s face it, Italy is a better trip. Not to say there won’t be ‘great moments’ in Holland, but it’s not gonna be the same. That being said, there’s no guarantee that 2 trips to Italy would be equally awesome.
6. I’m guessing some people never get over it. I don’t think it’s any way to live. I don’t think anyone should dwell on it. But I suspect some people don’t come to appreciate the tulips. I know that’s not me and yet I worry that it is. I worry about a lot of things. The fact that I can’t speak dutch is so minor it’s almost inconsequential.
7. I seem to be the only one who got off the plane. Where are all the other tourists heading to Holland? It sure is startling to find that no one else is walking down the skywalk and your luggage is the only case on the conveyer. It’s very lonely in Holland. Wish you were here.
8. Everyone’s experience of Holland is different. This adds to the feeling of isolation.
9. Did I mention the waiting?
10. Sometimes you need to seek out the people you trust enough to share that your trip, the one that you were so excited about, that you’ve dreamed about…that you’ve pursued tirelessly, is crappy. Because it is crappy some days. It ain’t all windmills and tulips. Most feel the need to be really chipper about the news that you are not where you’re meant to be. They don’t want to be sad. They don’t want you to be sad. If they act happy, then everything will turn out great. Heck, they say, “I’m sure you’ll find yourself in Italy in no time”. But guess what? Chances are when you are first sharing the news, they are sad. You are sad. Everything will turn out some way or another. It’s ok to say “Right now, this change in plans, this flight redirect? It’s craptastic. And I have no idea what I’m going to do about it. So I’m gonna sit here on this plane and figure out how to make the very best out of flippin’ tulips and windmills.”
hmmm, upon re-reading this…I should just stay on the plane a while longer.