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Counting Down the Days

It’s another sunny day in The Hague.

Oli and I are outside the building where Katja works, waiting for her to join us.

Ever since we met fourteen months ago, on the corner of the busy intersection nearby, Katja and I have become good friends.

I’ve written about Katja before, in this post on vriendscap (friendship). I’ve even written about how Oli and I meet her a couple times a week to go walking together during her lunch break (Long Arm of the Law). 

Last year we trained for a 5k race during our lunchtime jogs (without Oli), then ran the race together. We occasionally get together outside of our midday jaunts, sometimes meeting up for lunch or dinner.

Katja deserves much credit for my ability to speak the Dutch I do, as we try to converse as much in Nederlands as possible. She’ll occasionally correct me, giving me a more accurate verb, a better phrase or a more acceptable arrangement of word order.

But she does it gently and quickly; I repeat what she says once or twice, perhaps ask a quick question, and then it’s back to chatting about whatever we were before.

She’s been a big supporter of my various endeavors. She has significant business experience and acumen, with a keen mind for seeing things both strategically and tactically.

Although she isn’t a writer, if I express confusion over work priorities, she always asks great questions that help lead to resolution of the issue at hand. She’s made some great suggestions on topics, and given me very thoughtful advice.

I’ve been doing the same for her, as she navigates the new challenges in her life. You see, Katja leaves on Tuesday for London where she will marry her beloved Costas. They’ve been together for several years, and have been engaged the entire time I’ve known her.

Almost every other weekend since they’ve been together as a couple but living in two different countries, one or the other will jump on a plane and go visit the other. They plan their visits months in advance to ensure they get the cheapest tickets and necessary days off from work.

They’ve worked hard to make their long-distance relationship work. Certainly telephones, Skype and email make it easier, but in the end, they’d rather be together.

Husband and I were invited to the wedding and fully intended to go, but through a planning miscue on my parents’ part, they arrive the day we would have to leave for London. When I told Katja we couldn’t make it to the wedding afterall, I was the one who cried and she was the one reassuring me that it was alright.

She’s like that. She, too, has an elderly father; he’s in declining health, so she knows that you can’t just up and leave them with a list of instructions and a breezy wave goodbye. Perhaps 10 years ago, but not now.

So we’ll be back here thinking of Katja and Costas on their big day, wishing them a lifetime of love and happiness. Hopefully we’ll be able to watch the videotape of the wedding, too.

After the wedding and honeymoon, Katja will return to the Netherlands to tie up some pretty big loose ends: giving final notice at her job and, after deciding what to do about the house she owns here, packing up her household and two dogs to move.

Once there, she’ll be busy settling in and continuing her job search. She’ll be the expat who has just moved overseas. With time she’ll find new friends there, and I hope they are as good to her as she was with me.

Of course we will stay in touch: it will be our turn to rely on Skype and email, and the occasional visit.

So exactly how many more days will we have to walk and talk and plot and plan? I’m not sure. But I do know het is niet genoeg.

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