Not yesterday sunset but of equal beauty
So I decided that I had enough of this long cold winter. I had enough of having to work indoor, do yoga indoor and even tend to my chilli plants indoor.
Yesterday afternoon, I put on my neglected running shoes, my big thick hoodie and a pair of gloves. I headed to my park and I did 5K. I was out and about. I saw a gorgeous swan swimming along the canal. Sunset was breath taking and I was out to see it. It could have been better without the bitterly cold wind but I was fine. I was more than fine.
Today was still cold, so much that I had to use my blanket in the office again (Yep, I have my own blanket in the office but it is another story). Despite the cold and an ache in my thighs, I am so proud that I have challenged the winter. Today and probably tomorrow, winter is still gonna win over me. But I am no longer locked indoor. I am back to running. And when summer finally comes, maybe I do 10K. And Great North Run one day? Definitely!
I don’t swear in Vietnamese but I find it rather acceptable to swear in English. So here it is: It is so freaking cold today. My Lithuanian colleague would disagree with me here. She once said Amsterdam didn’t have a real winter. But by being Vietnamese, I think I have the right to rant whether this is a freaking real winter or not. It was so cold that I couldn’t feel my ears on the way back from work. I suspect that I felt my legs only thanks to cycling. I love cycling but it is much less fun in the winter, especially with the hundred canals around the city. Days get so short that no matter how early I leave work, I’ve got no chance to distinguish the beauty of the canals from the darkness. It is mostly dark when I leave home for work too. So all ones get from those canals are the risk of falling into one and the moisture that comes in the wind. What is worse, this country is so flat that the wind just blows all the way through it. Last Saturday, it was so windy that I didn’t dare to dream of cycling. I know the Dutch still cycles regardless but this is not a competition. I am just a tiny Vietnamese girl who can’t even swim.
Picture this: It’s New Year’s Eve (or early morning New Year’s Day to be precise). It felt like below 0 degree. We were leaving a pub in the Jordaan after quite a few drinks. The Jordaan is literally made up by canals and bridges that go over them. It was so cold and damp despite the tons of fireworks exploded earlier that night. My bf was cycling with me on the back. That 15-minute ride felt like a week. Well, I exaggerated it a bit. My point is that Amsterdam winter is too cold and too windy. Days are too short. Nights are too scary when one has nightmares of falling into a canal. Did I say that there are too many canals? And that I can’t swim?
Man, I think I start repeating myself here. I just feel like a rant can actually do me some good after a hard long day like today. A kind of meditation. My apologies if you love Amsterdam or if you are in a even colder place, like Finland. Don’t get me wrong. I am utterly in love with Amsterdam too. However, there were days when I wish I were in Hanoi, on my scooter to a street selling hot, spicy and tasty snails.
The last few days of January seem to be such a misery. It is bitterly cold, annoyingly wet and depressingly dark outside.
Another birthday has passed by my window. After the excitement of birthday presents burned out like candles on a birthday cake, a plus-one in my age is all that was left behind.
Consciously I retraced my twenty-eight’s footsteps. What have I done that are worth counting for the never-to-return time? There were a few.
I came home, and got myself an exciting job. I was absorbed.
I was there to hold my nephew when he was a few hour old. I felt my family’s hope rising in his cries. Like most babies, he cried quite a bit. We did not even mind that much.
For the first time in 10 years, I was in the same city with my best friend for a period longer than a holiday. We went to have junk food talking about our life battles. We were not drama queens. We just sought differences in life. We went clothes shopping giggling like teenagers again. We visited places.
But I could have seen her more often. I could have visited more old friends with whom I had lost regular contact for three years or more. Many of them have kids now. I didn’t go to see the little ones either. Sadly, there seemed to be a lot that I didn’t do. And the time has passed.
When regrets conquer, vulnerability creeps in. Outside, it is still dark, wet and cold. Yet the worst is to come in February. At the end of each day, I hurriedly tug my feet under a thick blanket, wait patiently. I still work, run, crochet, cook, learn and love. But I am desperately long for spring to come.
It has been one month since I set foot on Dutch soil (and water). Winter has taken its toll for temperature drops to zero and trees give up most of their leaves standing so naked. I can see ice on the grass outside early in the morning. I can feel the freezing cold on my sweetheart’s cheeks when he gets home from work. I hunch my shoulders waiting for the tram until my tense muscles tell me that I need to stand up wide and tall to fight back. So later, I put on my trainers and my hoodie heading to the park for a run.