Josie twirled a red umbrella as she walked down the cobble-stoned street toward the Centrum, the center of town from where all streets began. There she knew she would find a restaurant to get a slice of pizza. Pizza was, after all, in every country across Europe.
Earlier that morning, like every morning for the past three and a half months, she had been painting down by the canal. The air had turned from fog to mist and then into a light shower. Luckily, she packed up when she felt the first bit of mist, and had gotten her paints back to her flat before any damage occurred, unlike her first rainy morning in Maastricht. Not quite quick enough that day, some of the watercolors had run down her shirt.
She loved her bustling city life in the Netherlands, and was sad to have to leave the following week. Her study time was coming to an end, but she was going to miss her new friends and their eclectic ways.
Josie’s American friends and parents thought her crazy when she told them she wanted to take an art semester in the Dutch country, rather than going to Paris or Italy like most students. Josie did her homework though, and decided her education would be better improved by going to a country with a more open attitude about people, freedom and life. Walking through the street, she knew she had made the right decision, even if sometimes she became uncomfortable by the Dutch’s open views of the body.
In the country that produced Vincent van Gogh, Pieter van der Werff and Johannes Vermeer, Josie had found her deep creative and artistic Self. She allowed her ingrained restraints to fall away, and she occasionally worried that she would lose that new-found Self when she went back home to the states.
Josie spotted a friend trotting toward her.
“Hallo, Yosie!” the woman called, waving.
“Hi, Renate!” Josie was grateful that most Dutch were fluent in English because even after several months there, her Dutch was still terrible. “I’m going to get a slice of pizza. Are you hungry?”
“Oh, Yosie, don’t you get tired of pizza? The market is on today and we can get kibbeling and frites! They serve it with tartar sauce.” She said the last part slowly, trying to entice Josie. Josie laughed.
“You know I don’t like fried fish! I maybe could do the fries, but your ketchup is so sweet here. Hmm… Maybe this time I’ll eat them like you do, with only mayonnaise.”
“Oh, Josie! You’re so funny. I’m going to miss you when you go next week. Maybe I can come for a visit, yah?”
“I would love that, Renate! We will definitely keep in touch.” Josie hugged her friend. She noticed the rain had stopped so she pulled down her umbrella as they entered the Centrum.
Jan and Christof hailed them from a table set outside at a nearby cafe. A server wiped off chairs for them. Josie sighed. It wouldn’t be Europe if we didn’t eat outside.
I am really going to miss this.