Monday, June 19, 2006 Utrecht, The Netherlands – Rienk’s home
Utrecht circularity (circularity = lostness + navigational miracles) and other insights, observations, experiences, thoughts…
Back in Round Lake we have our bikes in the shed. They are not the top of the range and surely not worthy of a photograph; then there’s the rust that they have been collecting; but they are bikes and as such were bought for the sole purpose of exercise and exploration. We bought them at a garage sale years ago and in the past twelve months we rode them once – around the village of Round Lake. We surely were not anti-bike, nor lazy as we spent our days racing up and down the Northway between home and work. We just never had time. After getting on the freeway at 6.45 each morning and home too late in the evening we would work at renovating our home. On weekends we rushed around – I think we were renovating – we were too exhausted by the beginning of the next workweek to separate house work from school work from whatever else it was we managed to overwork ourselves with to think about the bikes in the shed.
The reason they had rust was because of the time we took them out of the shed and had intended to ride them but did not have the time and we did not put them back in the shed and over the next months there was rain and sleet and snow and then the rust came. When we rented out our home last week we leaned the bikes against the car and put a cover over the car and bikes. So in actual fact they really are not now in the shed but are once again outside though covered from the sun and rain of upstate New York summer. I hope we will take them to Brooklyn and ride them in New York City when we return. However, we cannot keep them in our apartment, as there is not enough room. Whether we can rent a space in the building’s basement remains part of our over all inquiry of how we will keep even a portion of all our stuff with us. We just had a big purge as we began our downsizing from a large four-bedroom home with a parlor and all the rest an old Victorian home has to offer to prepare for the big squeeze into a small one-bedroom apartment in New York City.
That was a lot of verbiage to get to tell about our bike ride last night.
We had already had a long bike ride into the centre of Utrecht when we used the Internet Café yesterday. Shops are not open on Sunday in the Netherlands and outside of a few cafes bike riding is what there is to do. We do not have a house to renovate, we do not need to look for a home, we have no schoolwork to prepare, we have nothing to do but bike ride and that makes this a real holiday. In other years we went on a boat ride with either Reink or Leen and Janny. This year Reink’s boat is in dry-dock whilst getting a new coat of paint. We may try our hands or feet – at those peddle boats and have a bit of a stroll down the canals at some point before we leave. Because Reink, like most European males, likes to watch the football (soccer) and because we are Australians (even with my New York accent I am an Australian, by citizenship, though I would not fall into the ‘true-blue’ category) we watched the Australia and Brazil match. It was the first time Australia had been in the World Cup in some thirty years and the first time they had scored a goal in much longer than that was last week when they beat Japan 3 – 0. They lost 2 – 0 to Brazil yesterday but for my lack of football knowledge (American football is called gridiron outside of the States) it seemed that Australia played well – they ran around and looked quite busy though Brazil always looked like they had control – in other words they had the ball most of the time.
It was after seven pm when we hopped on the bikes. Rienk said that after the second bridge there was a bike path that went along canals and rivers that we could follow. Perhaps we took the wrong path – there are so many bike paths in Utrecht. The path followed a canal but of course this is the country of canals – then we followed a river. We ended up in an industrial section and then came to an end because it was blocked off with a large fence so we turned about and followed another path. Then another path until it was almost dark. It was ten to ten and being the summer this far north the daylight is forever when we questioned whether we would ever find our way back home. We ended up on a dead-end in a park at one point then when hunger over took us we went to McDonalds looking for an elixir or magical healthy morsels so we could continue with our lostness. I am not a big fan of any fast-food place and the last time I was at a McDonalds was a year ago in Adelaide for an ice cream. Narda was in hopes of getting a Dutch croquette. I had no great hope for much of anything eatable. Fortunately there were Dutch croquettes and I had a ‘reasonable’ vegetarian burger.
We had spent more than an hour getting to where we were and we imagined it would take us another hour to find the right bike path back home. My bike riding is not all that great at the best of times but at least where we were – in some industrial type of area – there were no people to bang into. I had come close to knocking folks over earlier in the day. There are so many bikes in town and the streets are so narrow I do not know how people continue to keep from crashing into one another. Several times I could hear words directed at me but lucky for me I do not understand Dutch and I would frequently say ‘sorry’ which I am sure is understandable in most languages.
Maybe it was the McDonalds food but in some miraculous way we were home ten minutes after eating. We could not believe it at first. We went a different direction than we had gone so far – following yet again another canal on yet again another footpath. We went from the industrial section, past a very large public school and suddenly there were suburbia streets and after only a couple of blocks there was our street.
We get lost wherever we are and we just pretend that that is how we explore the world instead of saying we always get lost we just say we are exploring or investigating or some such thing. I should not speak for Narda so I will claim sole-ownership for my lostness – even back in Albany, after living there for four years I am constantly getting lost. I lived in Adelaide for twenty-two years and it became a daily occurrence – getting lost. I have even developed my own spiritual version of where I am (I am where I am and I am not where I’m not and I am where I am because it is where I am to have the insights that I will have where I am at within that particular space in time – it is a subsection subset section of Terrellism). Nonetheless we were on our street and we even discussed all this in detail and realized that we could not find our way back to McDonalds the next day no matter how we tried to retrace our steps. Of course it was not the re-finding of McDonalds that intrigued us but the realization that we could not retrace our steps, period.
We even discussed theories of lostness and how we found ourselves within our lostness. ( LIT - lost in theories)
Theories of lostness: Part 1 – the Utrecht phase (no doubt there will be the German phase as well as the Istanbul and the Viet Nam and the Adelaide phase of lostness to theorize in regards to.
It is raining this morning so whether we go bike riding today remains to be seen.
There is little I can add. Except to say that the guy we swerved and wobbled to miss asked us rather rudely in Dutch if we were awake yet. I suppose he could have said much worse! Last night I visited Tante Nel at their place and we had a glass of advocaat. Today’s a bit rainy, but who cares. We have no schedule; that is such a lovely state to be in. The one scoop ice cream for 1Euro is something you can’t buy in the USA. The serving sizes and 3 times larger there. Same for coffee.