We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Today’s reason, I’m tired of feeling tired. I get so lost sometimes, I don’t know how… but it happens like a bad habit. Assessing and reassessing my situation, planning for the unknown.
What should I be doing? Am I standing still? I think the solution is to do what feels right but when day light creeps in through the window it’s a reminder that work needs to be done, money has to be made, and a stomach needs its feeding. As I pour through empty thoughts from last night I’m wondering… do I get enough sleep? do I sleep too much? what happened to time? I think back to a time when I didn’t need to ask these questions… the flight towards Amsterdam, just before dawn with a buzz from Krakow. I’ve got a small bag, some clothing, a notebook, camera, iPod, savings and no responsibilities. Destiny pulls me in any and every direction.
From a bird’s eye view, Amsterdam looks like a plaid sweater sewn into the earth. The kind of sweater no one buys, an ugly blue/green/grey that ends up forgotten in a thrift store. As the plane touches down I feel an overflowing sense of time from my pockets, I’m twelve hours early for my meeting and I can splurge on a good meal, a cheap Heineken, and a long nap.
I exit central station and march through the caverns of a commercial district. The shopping center is littered with souvenir stores and coffee shops. Every so often, you hit a square that is surrounded by a big clock-tower, a church, and a crowd of tourists aiming their lenses at these massive architectures. I follow the canals to the next point of interest. The canals are unique to the city like the imperfections of ladies leg with varicose veins, scars, and cellulite. The air is damp, with the occasional gust of grease or hypnotizing scent of sweets. The energy of the people feels familiar with faces from all across the globe; a small scale manhattan wearing a european fashion brand. You could call it “a touch of dutch”.
It rained everyday but the rain was ok. There were many times of wet rain, the rain that really gets you wet, but that was ok too. The only exception to my high tolerance of discomfort was when moisture had soaked through my socks and into my skin. With each step, I began to think like I might be able walk on water. The seriousness of the situation had escalated to code red when I could not absorb any more water. Just one more pint and osmosis would beset me. So, I had to seek sanctuary from the showers. By good luck, I had an audience with an old high school mate. We got to know each other riding the F train and sharing the occasional lunch during our adolescence. Years had passed us but nothing much had changed. Having secured a roof over my head I’m not looking to spend money, just looking for a good time. It’s a nice way to live in the big city as a small timer. I’ve experienced new tastes, spread good nature, and made sense of myself.
When I met my friend, I foresaw adventure and light hearted trouble. If you could imagine two old pals riding a shotty bike through town, swerving in and out of traffic making animal noises and heavy metal screams than you can imagine the joy of letting loose in a strange land. I could’ve cared less if a police man reprimanded us for driving recklessly and the heckling at no one in particular. We were wild and very much alive… like birds in the rain, circling around, close to the ground. When we weren’t chowing down over-priced burgers in de Pijps or socializing at the pubs and clubs we stayed home and relaxed with cable televisions all-day Simpsons marathon.
Riding 2nd class on a bike is just another way to get around the city. Or you could walk… because it’s free. So I walked everywhere, in times of rain and shine. Well, what to do in Amsterdam. Do drugs and fuck a hooker. I couldn’t afford to spend money on the museums or the hookers so I spoiled myself with a joint. At 3 euros, it seemed like the most fun I could have. I thought I would smoke a joint, walk around, observe and write. If and when I got the munchies, I would eat something nice.
“Walking through the streets of Amsterdam where no one gives a damn. My senses are shocked as far as the eye can see, but it goes further. It gets darker, over here you can get away with murder. The kind of place, like living in a day dream. I’m not busy with anything, I’m not occupied. Just thinking presently. I’m a cowboy in the streets seeing everything as it seems. Walking through the fire, the gateways into new senses. A city inspiring the dark sides. Resisting temptations, challenging morals. Where do you stand? Here and there, where is your line and how far will you push it? In this moment I do not see. But only feel, a sense that is not real. Here I am, writing away and what do i have to say. Is there anything I want to say? Just writing and writing away. I think about it. But I don’t. What do I say, what do I say? I can say anything, everything, whatever I want. So I write and write.. it’s alright, then I read again. This voice in my head. Writing whatever I have to say. It says anything. It says whatever it wants to say. It does anything, anything it wants to say. Noise, sounds, and visions. How the hell is this happening. I’m whatever I want to be!”
The most vivid experience is seeing women sold as commerce. Red-light women market themselves like chops of meat at a butcher. You got filet mignon, porter-house, ground-beef. There’s a disconnection when snake eyes tempt you to the dark side. The whole scene is curious, empty, and a bit uncomfortable. For those frequenting, flirting back and forth, they haven’t a problem doing business with the stutes. I cannot take it all so seriously. It all seems so unreal, a false sense of reality. Some of these women are gorgeous, others are trash… I’m intrigued by the scene and walk around. I think what the hell is going on here. I observe the sex machine. Prostitution is a career choice that revolves around the beauty and mystery of women. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard the phrase “sex sells”. Pleasure is big business here and I imagine all around the world. Since the beginning of all desires, men are drawn to the nature of women. It has inspired so much passion, action, and creation. Is there any shame in buying a prostitute? I had to ask this question and agreed that you would have to live with that dehumanizing feeling. These women are human people, mothers, sisters, and others. Primordial pleasures should be treated with a bit of sanctity. When you eat, eat presently with appreciation for the many flavors in every bite. When you make love, be present, respect, and appreciate your woman. You could say “well, fuck that”. And well… that’s just like… your opinion.
It all seemed so chaotic, all the people, the tourists, the locals. The city center is really on a hustle. I think about what do most people want? All those people on the street, at the supermarkets and at the cafes? I think everyone just wants peace, some kind of shelter, food on the table, and to feel loved. My crush of love came while eating french fries with mayonnaise, some lady had the gall of telling me I’d die of a heart attack. Well… I guess. Consuming two weeks of fat in two minutes might cause mild traffic in the arteries but this is a one and done deal. She also babbled that I’d better watch out for thieves. Well.. I guess. I was more preoccupied with trying decadent dutch pastries from the one and only dutch oven. I recommend everyone grabbing a piece of dutch honesty.