Does this train go to the airport? The guy who appeared to be sleeping across from us, slumped over his seat, opened one eye and muttered, I sure hope so, before slumping over once again. We looked at each other with worry in our eyes, then shrugged our shoulders and settled in for the ride, hoping for the best.
It was the last day of our first trip to Amsterdam. With several hours to kill before heading to the airport, we found ourselves in a very funky coffeeshop, walls laden with graffiti and various posters and nostalgia items. We placed our order, soon feeling relaxed and at our ease. What will we do with all this? I said to my boyfriend, pulling out several tiny baggies of leftovers. We’re going to the airport soon…but we can’t just throw it out.
Let’s have another then, we’re not in a rush.
It didn’t seem like a terrible idea. However, when we had finished, there was still some left. Let’s just give it away, I suggested, but instead we had one more.
Suddenly I remembered our flight. Oh my god, we have to go! I exclaimed. He gasped and turned to me with wide eyes. We stared at each other for a moment in shock, before settling back into our seats.
The same revelation soon hit me again. Oh my god, we have to go! I exclaimed. He gasped and turned to me with wide eyes. We stared at each other for another moment before settling back into our seats.
The third time that I hurriedly made the same observation, we finally sprang into action. I collected up my purse and phone, he threw the lighter and papers into his pocket, and I made to slide off my stool.
When my feet touched the floor, I realized we would most certainly have a problem getting to the airport on time. I felt as though I were wearing springs on my shoes, the floor pushing back comically against the soles of my feet. I tried to act natural as I bounced my way towards the door.
When we finally stumbled out into the fresh air and the afternoon sun, he turned to me and said, We’ll need to get back to the boat to grab our stuff.
WHAT? I shouted, the quietness of the square not having yet registered against the previous volume of the coffeeshop. We both burst out laughing at the volume of my voice in the otherwise tranquil square. We took a few steps, but didn’t make it far before we both started laughing again. He pulled out a map to try and figure out the way back to the boat, which generated more laughter. My body was heaving and my belly sore…I couldn’t stop laughing though my mind was screaming at me to stop. I started to panic. My body was not listening to my brain. I tried to take a few deep breaths and still my diaphragm, which worked for a few moments until I turned to him to speak, which caused a whole new fit. We were getting nowhere, and I was starting to believe we would never make it back to the boat. What could we do? My mind raced through the options, and finally I convinced myself that the only viable possibility was to go our separate ways. Wait, he called, I found the way. I turned back without looking at him, willing myself with every fibre of my being not to look. I stared at the ground and followed him, consciously attempting to maintain a still diaphragm.
We walked and walked, and I became more and more sure that I had never seen these streets before in my life. I said as much. Yes, we have Allie. We were in this very spot just yesterday. Look, remember that shop? I did, but my brain worked hard to convince me that I didn’t. The laughter was gone, and paranoia set in. This isn’t the way. This isn’t the way.
I no longer believed us to be in Amsterdam, I felt so very lost. I fully accepted the fact that we would never make it to the airport, and told my self resignedly, we live here now, wherever here is.
We have been walking for hours. At least four, I told myself.
Yet here was our boat. I almost collapsed with shock and relief. Until my feet were firmly planted in our little cabin, I didn’t believe it to be true. We wandered around the tiny space trying to get our suitcases together, tripping over one another, and finally we were out the door, muttering a quick, thanks very much, to the man at the desk on our way out, not making eye contact, expertly avoiding revealing our current state.
We found our way to the train station, and quickly became overwhelmed with all the times listed on the ever-changing screen, people in suits dragging suitcases, expensive shoes clicking on marble floors.
Excuse me sir, which train goes to the airport?
There are two seats together here, Allie.
Does this train go to the airport?
I sure hope so.
Flight 206, now boarding rows one to ten.
The door to our apartment closed behind us. We both slumped against it, turning to each other, eyebrows raised.
We’re home, he said.
It appears so, I said.