'arrived back in the Netherlands Thursday morning, and have been burning the candle at both ends since. There have been a series of farewell parties filling days since I got back, and I finally collapsed into bed last night to sleep straight through to noon today. Very uncharacteristic; very telling.
The staff farewell get-together was worth returning early for. The eight of us have led the company the past two years, and there was lots to reflect back on. It was wistful at time, happy at others, but always with an undercurrent of knowing that this was the last time we'd be together as a group. It's sad: we did better (and deserved better) than this. Most will drift off from the company immediately, all will probably go within a year or so. We all visited a winery together (I didn't even understand that Arnhem had a wine industry), and had a farewell dinner at a local residence hotel. Reflexively, everyone was up for breakfast together at 8:30, even though we'd stayed up talking until 1. Friday lingered on with a few smaller get-togethers, and then a Research Group farewell in the evening.
My doorbell rang at six this evening: the neighborhood had decided to throw a summer block party. Apparently it was the first time that the neighbors had gotten together, and there was much pointing to windows and explaining where you were in relation to others. It was a nice affair: it's been difficult to meet folks because few are out during the day and Dutch social customs only give me one chance to establish the right relationship at the beginning. Being new, I didn't.
But this time around, I met folks who had lived in the US, who had finished careers as teachers or started them as therapists, who had firm opinions of the EU or soft ones on George Bush. It was almost like any US bar-b-q: people talk house values and politics, share gossip and tips. Small children are scurrying underfoot, while large ones try to snag a bit of wine or beer while adults have their back's turned. We all had opinions about the sculpture exhibitions at the park (I was the only one who had gotten inside the "bubbles").
Anyway, it's good to be back. Lots of thinking to do, and lots of planning to catch up on in the week ahead. I feel like things are firmly in transition now.