My heart, she aches.
Tiny invisible feet dance upon my heart. Little residual impressions blanket the beating mass of feels.
I have met heaps of great people, so many genuine and authentic souls that have left their mark and forever changed my heart. Chance meetings and planned dates, my heart swells with the love and aches from the goodbyes.
The beauty of travel is that you meet people, a lot of people in short amounts of time. The ugly is that everything, every encounter, significant or not, is fleeting.
I hold on tightly to the moments, squeezing every last minute out of them. Wondering when they will let go, or worse yet, be forgotten. Forgotten once the mundane routine of a new reality sets in.
Where do all the memories fit? The feelings go? I wonder what has been displaced in my mind to make room for the memories. What space has been made in the folds of my heart for all the feels I feel.
I am blessed. I have met some amazing people: Been chauffeured around entire provinces. Invited to stay on a boat, partied, and danced a silent disco. Eaten my weight in ice cream, been a giant in a town of lilliputians, discussed heartbreak in a metropolis, picnicked in the cool island dunes watching the night’s sky. I have watched over cats. I have watched over more cats. Sampled cheese. Eaten wheels of cheese. And sûkerbôle, Bossche bol, stamppot, herring.
I have gotten lost in the 17th-century heart of too many medieval towns. Seen the bellies of grote, oude, nieuwe kerks. Danced in the light of the Golden Age masters. I have accepted the kindness of strangers. I have said yes. I have given the impression I am spontaneous. Exchanged cultural nuances ad nauseam. Road tripped into the 1940s and touched the earth of my ancestors. Dated. And swiped yes to all of the above. I have sunk low on my haunches and cried silent tears of love, loss, and sheer exhaustion. There have been bikes. A bounty of borrowed bikes and sloot riding, dike-cruising-good-times-of-adrenaline pumping exercise.
Moments and experiences touch my heart muscle. They enter my life either planned or unexpectedly and sometimes for mere moments, like the bug that hits the face when riding on the fietspad. But the impression left lingers beyond the moment. I am changed.
My heart has been impressed upon by ghosts. The memories I hope to hold on to for my lifetime.
Riding this feeling of bittersweetness into the next leg of my trip.