Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Amsterdam, here I come.

Too bad it's only for a day.

Amsterdam is such a marvelous place, not because of the "coffee" shops or because it's Europe's answer to San Francisco, homosexuality-wise. It just is lovely on such a human scale - all those step-gabled houses with huge windows on the canals, and the people are so blunt, so warm, so friendly.

My grandparents or great-grandparents or great-great grandparents - it depends on which side how far back you have to go - are Dutch on both my mother's and my father's side. I remember how startling it was after I'd been to the Netherlands the first time, realizing that what I had always thought was a rural brogue in my grandmothers' speech was in fact a faint Dutch accent, although both of them had been born and lived their whole lives in Iowa.

I was also startled by how familiar the interaction between people was - this was how my parents relate to people, this easygoing forthrightness. Ethnic recognition. I wonder if genes play any role in this at all, or is it purely stubborn socialization passed down through the generations that makes me feel so at home in the Netherlands?

The Swedish words for the day are farmor and mormor. They both mean grandmother - although the former refers to a paternal grandmother and the latter to a maternal grandmother.

- by Francis S.

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