The girl passes through customs and looks back one last time. She sees the boy with whom she has fallen madly in love in the last six months, who yells something she cannot make out.

For the entire duration of the flight she wonders what he had said. Maybe he had simply wished her a good flight. Or maybe he had told her to take the vegetarian meal option, so that she wouldn’t be quite so jet-lagged on arrival. But what if he had said he wanted to come with her? Or if he had asked her to come back and never leave him again? Would she have done so?

Exploding holiday bubble

The last few months passed so quickly she has not had time to consider such matters. In August she flew to a foreign country to do a work placement, hoping that she would return home with a wide range of memories and life experiences. But instead, her life seems emptier than it ever has been before. She has been living in a permanent holiday bubble, which is now exploding in her face and leaving suds in her eyes.

Aboard the plane she opts for the meal with pork, and pays the price for the next few weeks. She lies awake at night, and is tired during the day. Mentally, she is still in America. Nothing seems quite as much fun in Rotterdam as it was in America. The sun is less bright, the parties are dull and even the Dutch beer doesn’t taste as good here as it did in America. The American dream was so wonderful it hurts her to have to wake up from it.

While watching TV that night, she receives a message from the boy she left behind. “Dutch beer tastes like bitter poison when you don’t have anything to celebrate,” it says. “Happiness cannot be bottled,” she replies. “Happiness comes and goes, just like planes land and take off again.” She walks to the kitchen and gets a small bottle of Wieckse Rosé beer from the fridge. While taking a sip, she tastes the nights in his studio and feels the warmth he gave her when it was cold outside. Suddenly, the emptiness is replaced with memories. The memories taste bittersweet.