The description I found online of Bergen was “an artist village” with interesting architecture, amazing sand dunes and a long beach. After a week in Bergen with a lots of cycling, I found such a description could never do justice. You have to see it with your own eyes and feel it on your own skin.
We hired our bikes from a local fietsen shop. Unlike in Amsterdam, no official identification form and credit card authorization were needed. That’s how it works in a village. That’s how it should always work – said my country boy.
The first direction of choice was Bergen aan Zee. As little as my Dutch vocabulary was, I could almost taste the salt in my attempt to pronounce “Bergen aan Zee”. Waiting for us was a long beach with soft fine sand – the kind that stays in your shoes for weeks upon your coming back to concreted roads of the city. The sea was not so warm though. It’s North Sea, not the Pacific – I had to remind myself. Still I ran cross the beach to dip my feet into the biting cold water. My impulsion was to get my feet salty: a must-do on a trip to the beach.
Leaving the sea behind, we pedalled up hills to see sand being stranded into massive dunes. The view was impressive. More were the sea defending efforts. On top of a dune a highland cattle stood in solitude, merely noticed us passing on our bikes.
Heading back to town we found hidden behind fences of green leaves and colorful flowers houses of beautiful structures and unique designs. Many of them have thatches, as a warning sign of a frosty winter in North Holland. Grey dense layers of dried plants give modern house a look of warmth and comfort. A resemblance to those houses would be yuppies who wear slim fit chinos and top-button-off shirt with a straw conical hat. The combination is uncommon but the presentation is pleasant to eyes.
My favorite rides were actually ones across stretches of fields. I was too late for the flowers that must have filled those fields with spring colors. It was however about time for the smell and sensation of summer when the wind blew through open fields. I just loved the early summer wind. Feeling my hair tangled up in the wind, I was very free.
Today I was told twice that I was not good enough for jobs that I did interview/test for.
I was disappointed because one of them could have been the ideal job that I even haven’t yet dreamt of.
Then I started to doubt. Would I be good for anything at all? I remember having been a school smart arse who learnt most things at ease. Those days passed a long time ago. I don’t think I become stupid. Life is just much harder than school and somehow I am still not prepared.
Then I sought for comfort by talking to others about the rejections. What amazed me was a reconstructed narrative that I found alongside with comfort. I was able to see the positive items within the supposedly negative feedback. “I was not good enough” is a fact. But another fact is that “I tried”. While judges do matter, it’s the effort that counts. As long as I keep trying, sooner or later I will be better. That is how life works I think.
I went back to Newcastle for a quick visit, 17 months after I left. The last morning was freshly still in my memory. Dragging a heavy suitcase of all my most valuables, I pulled myself through one rain water puddle after another. November rain was bitterly cold and rather grim.
Back in the Toon, the rain was waiting for me, as if it had never left town. Rushing around puddles, I hurried to catch glimpses of the past and take in fractions of the present.
A new Jamie’s restaurant just opened at Monument – the heart of town. It was the news in Geordie land. One suggested trying it the next time I’m in town. I hope it is still there then. I saw so many places being closed during my three years there, including the very one I worked at. In Hanoi, food stores come and go all the time, quietly and suddenly. They don’t cause a big fuss when they are opened. Neither do they leave such a depressed feeling behind their closed door. Everything is on the move in Hanoi. Newcastle is not like that at all. It’s a small town where every small change matters. When the sun comes out, it would be scandalous to spend time anywhere else but beer gardens.
I do love Newcastle, for better or for worse. I enjoyed very much a quick coffee or a few pints to catch up with friends. Their sweet souls and embracing arms remind me of who I am and who I want to be. I am no longer a part of Newcastle life but I wish they will forever be a part of my life.