Author: Gary Griffin

Exploring Holland without the one you love. After experiencing a devastating loss, I returned to our favorite destination.

I traveled to another country plush with tulips exploding from the flat land like spent fireworks. I walked cobble stone streets worn with centuries of grit. I explored the canals of Amsterdam at night. Through a canal boat’s canopy I soaked in the city’s unmatched character and beauty. Couples embraced and stared thoughtlessly into the surrounding beauty, content in each other’s arms – experiencing as one. And I could only think of you.
I recounted the past. Just three years prior we were in love strolling aimlessly along the same unforgiving streets. The open-air cafes, late night trains – our night in Amsterdam. Utrecht wasn’t the same. The Dom tower still held the center of this timeless city, yet something was missing. I climbed the 450 worn stairs through the narrow stairwell, but this time it was harder nothing waited for me at the final step. From the small porch only I would experience a bird’s eye view of a city captured in time. I only wished to recapture our time.
The windmills that pepper the landscape, so simple in function, weren’t spinning. The late night walks over the Swan Bridge spanning the Maas River were long and silent. No hand to hold, no one to share the beautiful skyline of Rotterdam. Head down I walked, filled with thoughts of you. The strong winds broke the silence, but couldn’t deliver my wish. The past proved a determined anchor and no wind could provide enough lift to deliver you from across the Atlantic. There I was alone, immersed in the beauty that is the Netherlands. I walked it, trained it, felt it, but couldn’t truly embrace it without my love. I pictured you three years ago trying to learn the language. I remembered the excitement in your eyes to speak in foreign tongue, to learn, see more, drink it all in – you were tireless and I loved you for it.
The tulips were in full bloom, Amsterdam hasn’t lost its charm, Utrecht remains timeless, but the windmills weren’t spinning. What was once so simple and beautiful to me, no longer spins.