Just a Nice Day

by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Yesterday was a great day. It was the kind of day that makes me feel nothing but contentment—no, bliss—with my decision to come to Europe. Nothing really special happened, it was just a nice day in my new life abroad. After taking the boys to daycare I came home and got dressed to meet my new friend Eva for lunch. She works in restoration and conservation of ceramics and glass for the Rijksmuseum (national museum) in Amsterdam, and I got to have lunch in the fancy building where she makes her magic – she, and dozens of other creative individuals who spend their time making beautiful, centuries-old art even more beautiful than it was when they found it.

After lunch I used my museumkaart (an annual pass that allows entry into about 20 museums year-round) to pop into the Rijksmuseum and see the new and very hyped-up exhibit by Damien Hirst. It’s basically a platinum mold of a human skull that is completely covered in diamonds. It’s called “For the Love of God” because that’s what his mother said when he told her what he was going to do. The skull is dazzling, to be sure, but it’s more a business venture than a work of art—and a successful one at that.

Once I checked that off my list, I rode over to the American Book Center to buy a birthday gift for Marijke – the mother at the house and now like a cherished big sister to me—and peruse the used books. Happy with selecting a good gift, I then treated myself to a kopje koffie and an amazing date tart in one of my favorite cafes on Utrechtsestraat. Settled in by the window—the taste of grainy brown sugar in my mouth—it was all so pleasant that I couldn’t even concentrate on my book, but instead just sat there and melted into my delicious, colorful and oh-so-European surroundings.

On the way home I stopped at the flower stand on the corner to buy some birthday bloemen, then went to get the boys. We got home and made a lovely construction-paper card for Mama with markers, crayons and stickers before eating leftover lasagna for dinner. After this it was off to my Dutch language class. There’d been spatters of rain in the afternoon, but now the night was clear and cool. I coasted over the little bridge on the Amstel river—lit with white lights as it is every night—and looking at the many city lights reflected on the black, peaceful surface of the water, I couldn’t really believe that this is my routine. This is now the everyday.

I rode home from class under the black, empty and sparkling sky with Charlotte, a French girl I sit next to. We had a few laughs and made plans to go out for dinner the next night where her boyfriend works as a chef. I got to the house and heaved myself up the 5 flights of stairs to my bedroom, stopping on the way to have one of those nice talks with Marijke that always lasts longer than we both plan and always keeps us up past our bedtimes.

Up too late but for once not really concerned about it, I flopped into bed and took a deep breath. I was just about to open up my book when I noticed—out the top window of the pointy, angular roof of the house, the only window in my room that always remains uncovered—the moon, almost round and commanding the sky. It was as though it had placed itself there, in my window, on purpose.

Perhaps it was the rhythmic pumping of blood through my body, or maybe the rise and fall, rise and fall of my lungs as I lay in bed and let my breathing slow, but I could have sworn that the moon itself was pulsing, throbbing, breathing. The white glow on which it floated swelled and shrunk and swelled again, offering in complete and pure loyalty to light the sky with every incandescent fleck of its being. Here was promise of the most fundamental kind.

Then, out of nowhere, a single thick cloud moved mechanically across the rectangular window—like a stagehand was holding it out of sight and dragging it through the set for a special lighting effect. The moon’s light dimmed, shrunk off, choked, and I thought “Oh my god, this is a sign.”

But the cloud moved on as quickly as it had come, and the block of sky I saw out my window was once again still and clear, and the moon once again bright. And I realized—as I’ve been learning more and more—that with many things in life, luckily for us, this is just how it happens.


1 Response to “Just a Nice Day”

  1. 1 Sara
    November 14, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    I remember being in Australia with my family and we never saw the moon. It was the strangest thing. I haven’t looked for the moon in ages. I shall tonight and think of you.

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"Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!" -Henry James, The Art of Fiction
November 2008
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