Home Exchange Couple Wants to Be Squatters

The Netherlands - Amsterdam 002Thinking about writing notes of our trip while in Amsterdam, I had to stop to consider if I really wanted to share the experience or keep it a selfish secret. Apparently, there was some clandestine feeling going on since my fingers never reached for the keyboard.

Ineke and Emma reached out to us for this home exchange. We have been to Amsterdam multiple times, thus know the city well. On general terms, I shun return trips to places once visited, but at times, I will cave in for a second visit. Yet there is something about The Netherlands that draws me like a magnetic force.

It all started in fifth grade with Miss Brooks’ geography class. Each quarter, we would study a different country. When The Netherlands entered the curriculum, there was something about tulips, wooden schools and windmills that bit me with a special kind of bug. I was smitten for life. Miss Brooks had visited Amsterdam years prior. She had brought back a large pair of wooden shoes which she displayed during our geography lessons. At the end of the year, she gifted them to me. Little did I realize back then that she and Miss Joffee, the two ‘old maid’ teachers were lovers. She probably read my beads, knowing where my life was headed.

Ineke and Emma lived outside of the gay scene. Actually, this caused some hesitation on my part as this was the area from which my navigation senses came into play. Put me in any gay area of the city and I can find my way from canal to canal.

When we arrived after 9pm, we took the bus in Emma’s instructions, got off at the stop she mentioned and then proceeded to walk about five blocks. Their apartment is on the sixth floor of a modern apartment building with an elevator. We were not prepared for how gorgeous the apartment turned out to be.

With only two apartments on the top floor, their terrace surrounds three sides of their space. All of the walls are glass composed of six oversized sliding glass doors: two in the kitchen area, two in the living room area and two in the bedroom. Between the décor and the way space was utilized, I could have been happy never leaving the apartment.

The Netherlands - Amsterdam 001This alone was worth the exchange. With the weather in our favor, we spent time sitting on the terrace as the sun set, watching the city change from vibrant to subdued. It was a real chore having to leave each day to explore. The thought did cross our minds of becoming urban squatters and not leaving. Now that it is a memory, I will share some new-found delights.

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After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.