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The Oudegracht in Utrecht

Moons ago that sometimes feel like many, and at other times, few, some Brookline neighborhood moms enjoyed a jolly night out at Barcelona Wine Bar, seeped in rioja, spinach & chickpeas and laughter. Among the faces we knew so well was a new one, a beautiful woman with an accent so obviously Dutch. While neither she nor I can give you details on the evening, we know we walked home late that very cold night with our arms around each other, there may have been some singing. We became fast friends.

When Nat, Philip and I were having our recurring dilemna about divergent vacation preferences, closed eyes and a spin of the globe landed us on the Netherlands. Ank steered us away from Amsterdam towards her Utrecht, setting us up for a long-term relationship. When she learned that some college courses were taught in English, Nat, perhaps identifying with Dutch tallness and reddish hair, saw her path and to her credit, made it happen. My good friend was there for advice and to help things along.

The Oudegracht in summer

Living like a local

On the way to the grocery store the other night

Last summer it became time for my friend and her husband to return to her kids and his job in Europe, taking some of the color out of Brookline.

Last time we were together

The first time we came to the Netherlands, I read a book about the history of Amsterdam which was really about the whole country. The author posited that the country is known has a socialist lense because people had to band together to deal with polders and the challenges of lliving below sea level. Related to the geography challenge is the lack of space, affecting housing. Storage closets and king beds are few and far between, kids from other countries take a year off college because they can't find a place to live.

So while it is suprrising for those in our part of the world, I'm sitting in my friend's 9 foot wide house, grateful, settled and comfortable. Incredibly well designed, it has three bedrooms, one and a half baths, a kitchen with an island, dining room table that seats 8, two living rooms and a back yard, as they say in the ads "quiet street, walk to downtown". Absolute magic.

Street where my friend's house is. When the horses go clopping by, it's easy to imagine being a medieval wench

First floor; living room kitchen, dining room and entry way

My office

No drinking and stairing

View from the bedroom, Dutch sunny

Scrumptious icing on an already delicious cake


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