Friday, June 17, 2011

A Brief Goodbye

It’s almost over. My time here in Maastricht is drawing to a close: soon we will board a train for Bonn, Germany, where we will spend a week, meeting up with Todd’s parents while there, and then I will be on a plane heading back to the States. I might put up a few posts while in Germany, we’ll see.

There are some things I won’t miss about this city: I won’t miss the bathroom with no real shower, just a spout on the wall under which I have to crouch to wash my hair, or being afraid to use the combination microwave/convection oven/grill in the kitchen. I won’t miss the incessant wind that makes running fairly unpleasant; the cobblestones that hurt my feet; the inability to even buy groceries every Sunday or holiday, when everything is closed; or having to spend a small fortune every time we want to go out to eat.

There are also, however, many things I will miss: doing all of my grocery shopping on foot, going to different shops for cheese, for bread, for delicious fruit tarts, and to the weekly markets:

I will miss our spacious apartment, whose tall windows keep the rooms filled with light on the grayest of days (and whose stairs are treacherous, but cool):

I will miss wandering these medieval streets, surrounded by centuries of stone, and water, water everywhere.

 Punctuated by splashes of color

And random bits of strangeness:

(Those, in case you can't tell, are live birds in cages, attached to a part of the old city walls, inside of which is an art gallery. Click any picture to enlarge.)

I will miss this view:

 And this one:

 But most of all, I will miss this guy:

 You see, Todd isn’t coming with me. With still a month left of his sabbatical, he is staying here until August 1st, while I am going to stay with my parents on Long Island until then. Will we be apart for over a month, the longest stretch of time since I moved in with him last October. It will be hard, sometimes painfully so I am sure, but we will survive: after all, the first several months of our relationship were conducted solely over Skype, while I was finishing up my master’s thesis in London.

That was where we met, actually, almost exactly one year ago: June 18, 2010, at a pub on Grey’s Inn Road, where we both happened to be watching England play Algeria in the World Cup. I sat down at a table at halftime and opened my laptop (the dissertation that was due in a couple of months was never far from my mind, at that time), but instead of doing work I ended up chatting with the talkative, charming, attractive economics professor from California seated next to me. After the game we exchanged email addresses and I left for the nearby student housing where I lived, assuming I would never hear from him again. 20 minutes later I opened my inbox to find an email from him, asking me out to dinner the next night.

That dinner led to a drink at a pub, which led to a walk in the dark along the Thames, which led to a kiss on Blackfriars Bridge. A kiss on the first date, oh my!

Todd was only in London for an economics conference, and then he was taking a trip to Moscow before returning to Riverside. But he cut his Russian trip short to come back to London, briefly, to take me out to dinner again, and then, over that dinner, he suggested we go to Paris that weekend. Together. On our third date.

I’m still somewhat astonished that I agreed. I am not usually that spontaneous, certainly not when a man is involved. I had only had three real boyfriends in my entire life before meeting Todd; I am introverted and naturally cautious, I tended to slip into the background (and then out the door) and college parties, and was never the one the guys noticed, even after my awkward teenage years were mostly over. I  had always just assumed that falling in love would take years of hard work and lots of dating, that I would have to go out with someone for a long time before I was able to determine whether or not I loved him.

But amazingly, with Todd, that struggle never happened. I was immediately comfortable with this man; walking the streets of Paris holding his hand felt completely natural to us both. We talked easily, leaned in to each other as if we had done it our whole lives, and laughed at everything, even at being stuck for an hour in an un-air-conditioned train car along the way. By the end of our 24 hours in Paris together, I think we both realized, even though we hadn’t committed to anything, that we were going to be in each other’s lives for a long time. Todd returned to the States and I returned to the routine I had developed of wandering London’s streets and diligently (sometimes) working on my dissertation, but we talked almost every day on Skype, for hours, without once running out of things to say. So that when he came to visit me in New York after I graduated from UCL, and met my parents and sister after we walked the streets of that city, once again holding hands, we already felt like we had known each other for years. From there, the decision to pack up and head west to be with him required little deliberation on my part.

It has only been a year since we met, and though it has gone by fast, it feels like it has been much longer. We have slipped into each other’s lives, not always completely easily, but comfortably and happily. I never made friends easily, and even now there are very few people I considered my true friend; I am not quick to open up, to talk about myself, to laugh with abandon and complete unself-consciousness. With Todd, I can. With him I can be vulnerable and silly; with him I laugh a lot, loudly and uncontrollably, as I haven’t laughed since I was very young.

This post is getting sappy (not to mention long; kudos if you've made it this far), so I’ll shut up for now. But I felt it was important to share our story, as Todd is an essential part of this blog even when he doesn’t appear in every post. He encouraged me to start it, for one thing, and it is because of him that the content of the blog will be changing a bit once I am back in New York. My mom, an excellent home cook, will be putting me through a kitchen “boot camp” of sorts, teaching me to make all kinds of vegetarian dishes that I can then recreate for Todd once we’re both back in LA.

More on this later. For now, I just wanted to take the time to tell our story, and to say goodbye to the city that has provided a home for me (and fuel for this project of mine) for the past few months. 

So long Maastricht, it’s been real.


  1. So Romantic! I will miss your musings on living in the Netherlands but can't wait to hear about what comes next!

  2. Katie this post almost made me cry! Enjoy your last days in Europe.. can't wait to see you on the "other side of the pond" =)