If you could book a flight tomorrow for anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
“Attention passengers. Delta flight 123 for Amsterdam is now boarding. Please have your tickets and passports ready.”
Izaak fumbled with his carryon as he made his way to the gate. His hands trembled as he dug out his ticket to hand to the attendant. He was really doing this.
It wasn’t that he was afraid of flying. He’d flown before, but only regional jets, domestic. He had never flown international, let alone across an ocean. He wasn’t worried about the length of the flight or the distance he was traveling. His worries were for what he would find when he landed.
He had booked the flight on a whim, a sudden desire to see the homeland of his grandfather tugging at his heart. Izaak had cousins in Holland. He had found them by chance on Facebook. Names he barely remembered from a family reunion he attended as a child.
It would be four years the following week that Opa had been gone. Those cousins had sent cards and condolences, though none could make the trip for the funeral. Should he reach out to them when he landed? “Hey cuz, we don’t really know each other but I was wondering if you could show me around?”
Izaak shook his head. That was ridiculous. No one would remember him after all those years.
He stowed his bag in the overhead bin and settled into his seat. He only half listened to the cabin attendants as they gave their safety shpiel.
Maybe it would be more rude not to contact anyone? Opa was always very welcoming to anyone he deemed as family, blood or otherwise. Izaak wasn’t entirely convinced that hospitality was something he learned in America.
He spent the rest of the seven hour flight refreshing his memory of the Dutch language. He had learned quite a bit as a kid. Oma had struggled to learn English and it was easier for the kids to learn Dutch from her than the other way around. Izaak hadn’t spoken it in years though. He hoped he would recall enough to be passable.
About halfway through the flight, he bought wi-fi so he could log in to Facebook. He looked up one of his cousins who was closest to Amsterdam and sent them a message, with a little help from Google Translate.
“You probably don’t remember me, but we met once at a family reunion in the States when Opa was still alive. I’d always said I wanted to go to Holland one day to see the land he was born in, and I am on a flight right now. It was very impulsive and not planned and I am hoping you can advise me on the best places to stay in the city and what I should see while I am visiting. I would love to grab a coffee if you’re free too!”
Izaak pressed “send” on his message and caught himself holding his breath. It was still early there and Jan probably wouldn’t see the message for another hour or two. He was debating dozing off himself for an hour or two when his phone buzzed and caused him to jump in his seat.
A reply already?
“Izaak! How could we forget the Ollie Bollen devourer?” Izaak flushed. Of course Jan remembered him for that. His stomach wished it could forget how many fried dough balls he had eaten that day. “How great it is that you are finally coming to visit! When does your flight land? How long will you be around? Do you have a place to stay? Anika and I would be honored to have you and show you around! Do not be a stranger!”
Tension melted from his shoulders as he read the message a few times through, doing his best to translate on his own without needing the internet to help. He smiled at the excitement in the words. Family was family, after all. He was going home.
Notes: I had a harder time deciding where to send a character for this than I thought I would. No small part of that was due to my inability to answer this question for myself. Anywhere in the world? I wanna go everywhere, see everything! How do I pick just one?!
In the end I decided to be a bit introspective and made a foil of myself for the purpose of writing a short story. I really would love to go to Holland some day and see the tulip fields and the windmills and the levies. I think it would be really neat, and I would get to see my grandfather’s home country. I’m pretty sure we have family out there, but I don’t know them at all. Less than Izaak in the story here. Some of my American cousins have been and met aunts and uncles who are still there.
What about you? Where would you go if you could just hop on a plane tomorrow? It’s ok if it’s somewhere near or somewhere you’ve been before. Write it down!
Well it’s been a long Monday and I am ready for sleep. Have a great night! I’ll see you tomorrow!
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