It’s just after 10 AM as I watch another tram approach the city center, wondering if this is the one that holds the little sister I haven’t hugged in two months. It stops about 15 meters (meters!) from where I’m standing, and even though I can’t see her face, she’s easy to spot through the window: the navy blue hat with the ear flaps and the pom-pom on top, a bold, yellow AMSTERDAM printed all the way around it. Our Dutchie friends mailed it to Topeka, Kansas four years ago, in another life. Her head swivels abruptly, and suddenly I’m looking at her face: eyebrows raised, jaw slack, eyes wide, that classic and comical expression indicating total lack of comprehension. I’ll learn later that she’s slept for most of the two-hour bus ride, only waking because of an exodus of passengers at her stop. For now, though, I’m laughing, because the whole combination – that look, the little pom-pom, the spastic head turn – makes her look like an excitable, confused six-year-old; she has no idea what’s going on and is utterly surprised by her surroundings. She doesn’t see me, so I wave and try not to laugh too hard. Her head whips around again and she’s on her feet, disappearing from view. She looks calm when I see her next, sauntering around the back of the tram and down the median, clearly trying to be nonchalant but not quite suppressing a mischievous grin. “Look at us in Europe together,” she says, shaking her head as she throws her arms around me. I haven’t stopped laughing since I saw the hat.
Her face is perfect.