Going Home

I know that I tend to write about depression and mental health issues, but today’s blog post warrants a change of mood. It is easy to get caught up in the negatives surrounding Covid-19. However, this week felt monumental. It was positive and full of smiles. It covered me in a warm feeling and gave me hope for what is to come. It felt like the first time that Dani and I got the chance to experience life as co-leaders of November Project Amsterdam and it was better than either of us expected.

On Tuesday morning, we organized a virtual sunrise 6 K. It was King’s Day in the Netherlands, which is a national holiday where the Dutch come together to celebrate the birthday of their King, Willem Alexander. On April 27th, normally people flock the streets dressed in orange and celebrate the day with parties and flea markets. Of course, this year, things were quite tame in the Netherlands, but we nevertheless dressed in our best orange workout gear and set out to run at sunrise. We shared the sunrise from Baarn, Utrecht, the Hague, Castricum, Belgium, and all over Amsterdam from Noord to Zuid. Some ran independently while others ran in pairs or threes but we all virtually ran together. Some even decided to do the 6k on a stand up paddle board.

On Wednesday morning, between 6:28-8:00am, we offered a special King’s Day tag as a medal for completing the 6 K run. It has been a long time since I set my alarm for 5:30am. It also felt so familiar. I dressed in my workout gear in the dark and then proceeded to wake up Kid X from the top bunk of his bed. I prepared myself for kicking, crying, or whining but he too surprised me with his excitement. It was the first time I would have to commute to November Project from Haarlem. Kid X and I, along with my boyfriend and his two almost 4-year-old twins, marvelled at the moon, the orange/pink sunrise, and the stillness of Amsterdam as we drove into the center. As we got out of the car and made our way towards the Nemo, it felt like going home.

Dani was ready to go with her new spray-painting skills and Robbie was set with his camera. I came with hundred shirts to tag and jokingly put pressure on Dani as she perfectly tagged everyone’s shirts. The kids played in the crimson sunrise. One by one, spread out over the next two hours, people showed up with smiles and shirts ready to be tagged. I ran stairs with a few of our members and we exchanged conversations about how we miss Wednesday morning workouts and how good it felt to be reunited at the stairs. I admired the small, spaced apart group and was struck with the familiarity of it all. I watched as Kid X ran around the group and laughed. I listened to people’s enthusiasm. I felt everyone’s happiness. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

A few of us did some burpees, mountain climbers, and reverse crunches. Others sprinted the stairs or chatted with one another about the glorious weather. The warm sunshine hit my face. Do you know that feeling when you go home after a long vacation or stint abroad? It felt exactly like that. The past three years I have “grown” up at the Nemo stairs every Wednesday morning. The stairs, the sunrise, and the boats in the canal remain intact and contain many memories of morning workouts. The place where I first received my Positivity Award. The place I piggy backed Kid X. The place we chanted funny bounces or danced to silly songs. The place I learned to embrace a hug. The place I found my family. The place I call home away from home.

Coming home to the Nemo brings indescribable joy. I was overcome by emotions of seeing my Amsterdam family after months and months without them. Hearing their voices, seeing their faces, and just being in their presence. I loved how little has changed between then and now. How everything still feels exactly how it should and yet it feels completely different. I can’t wait until these Wednesday’s become a regular thing again and we can once again go to the Nemo stairs for a little bit of home.

It may be a little while until we resume our workouts, but we have some exciting things coming up over the next two weeks.

On May 2, Sunday, between 11-12pm come join us at Vondelpark for an appreciation flyby run for Ro & Sas. Join us to give air hugs, snap a distanced selfie and generally show Ro and Sas how much they mean to us. Go to https://fb.me/e/EnZEAfK for details.

From May 5-May 10 (ending at 5pm), there is the 5-50-500 world TRYathlon challenge where you do as many kms as you can (run, walk, cycle, or swim). The aim is for each country in the world to do at least 50km across 5 days. Our very own Jane in celebration of her 50th birthday will be attempting 5 km swimming, 50 km running, and 500 km cycling to raise money to cure Parkinson’s. Please go to https://gojoe.com/550500  for more information.

And on May 13, I will be doing a 24-hour relay run where I run 5kms every hour for 24 hours. Please join me on this endeavour as I attempt to run my longest distance to date (120kms) and encourage our community to move. Contact me at amsterdam@november-project.com if you want to join!

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