Today, as you know was a Saturday like any other. As usual we slept till late, had breakfast at That Little Café in Wilmette and then made our way to Evanston’s farmer’s market, where we picked up some fresh veggies and bunches of tulips and gladiolas. Coming back home, the biggest decision we needed to make was, should we stay home and cook or go out to eat. We decided to stay home and grill some steaks. We checked on our stock of wines, and Robert decided we needed something different to drink that night – an exotic full bodied Zin maybe.

‘I’ll go to the liquor store and see what they’ve got. Want to come along?’

‘Nay, I will just stay home. Why don’t you go by yourself, that way you can get in your wine talk with Bill for a while.’ Something Robert  liked to do with one of the owners.

I watched Robert  back out of the driveway while I made myself busy putting away the vegetables in the fridge, bringing down the vases and filling them with water, mixing in Flower Life and put them on the kitchen counter to enjoy and admire them.  As I was arranging the flower into the cases, I couldn’t help myself from staring at them and thinking how beautiful they looked.  So fresh, so colorful and so summery.  And the flowers staring back at me stirred something deep down within me. Suddenly I felt moisture and then tears welling up in my eyes. I remember me running to  bedroom and slamming the doors shut and throwing  myself on bed and breaking down into a wildly wailing howl and begin to sob uncontrollably. I must have cried for about half an hour and following that as I lay there, still convulsing, something began to rattle me.

What the fuck am I doing here? They have farmer’s market on Saturdays only in the summer months and that too in a fucking parking lot!! All that make believe props of Europe. And I suddenly longed for Alkmaar – the town square, the typical Dutch row houses lining either sides of canals and the bridges, the  cheese wheels, the cozy little brown cafes – the bars. The places I had started  going to as a  teenager. Sit there carefree and leisurely, either inside looking through the shear curtains or sitting outside during warm months, watching the canals flowing  and the world go by, have a biertje or two, smoke cigarettes without  some self-righteous bitch sitting across the place frowning at you. Be able to  order a coffee with cognac on side. And here I am in Skokie, Illinois of all places. You’ve got to get into a car even to move an inch – instead of just walking or hoping on a bike. And the horror of all horrors, the  strip malls. The most exciting being the Old Orchard Shopping Center. I can’t explain the longing and desperation and the craving I felt for Alkmaar and the clusters of multiple Alkmaars so snuggly nestled inside the city of Amsterdam.

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