Friday, November 21, 2014

Dusk in Amsterdam


For about three weeks and counting I’ve been waking up before the sun. Most often I awake, and not able to fall back asleep, pull on my around-the-house attire, and make myself a piping-steamy dark-roasted espresso. A fabulous way to begin the day. And then, usually, another. And another. And then I'll begin to tinker and flit about my house; shuffling, rearranging, and all the while thinking with the things–quite literally–that I displace and replace. All of these things are lying around my house: books, shoes, bags, magazines, and the similar in form. After the things are thought with, I often begin to read, or review notes, or  even rewrite those same notes I had just read. Yes; school has consumed my thought processes. What I’ve learned since it’s begun is that it’s possible to overthink it. I’ve been so focused on being organized and an astute notetaker (as always), that I’ve forgotten to enjoy it along the way. I must revel within the days that still remain. After dawn has ended the city's daily-life begins anew in the streets below my house. My mind has been snowballing with it thoughts as of lately. I had thought that I had already slowed myself down. But zooming-out, what I have not seen until now, is just how much my life has changed since I moved to Amsterdam, and just how much more I'm working to achieve, right now. Like always, I'll continue pragmatically marching forward, to my own drum's beat. At the heart of my current mental distress is my new identity as an American-Dutch individual–a citizen of two lands. I like that, but with it also comes speaking Dutch; no more excuses as to why you can't, as it's not unheard of but rare that one cannot speak Dutch if one is Dutch–certainly if that one lives here. I live here and I speak Dutch. And happily I do. What distresses me about this identity is that I'm no longer on the outside looking inward; my fellow citizens expect me to know cultural connotations and act in particular ways; the social customs and values of the country I've thankfully already absorbed. The distress also emanates from knowing that it's possible to stay in one place for too long. And for people to know you too well. For my life has nearly always been ever changing; full of mystery and full of adventure, and above all–full of movement. Why stop moving? I always take staircases whenever possible now, because I now at some point in the future I won't be able to. There is something to be said about the anonymity that comes with moving to a new city. I've much experience in changing addresses. Oppositely, there is also something to be said about the familiarity of life that parallels an existence in a singular-city. Such as: waving hello to those you know who pass by on their bicycles, while out cycling around and through the city's streets. Or, bumping into a friend at the Rijksmuseum, or in a café, or at a movie theater (happened just a few weeks ago, actually). Living in this city, no matter from which perspective it may be seen, will always have a postcard quality to it. And that's because Amsterdam is egregiously gorgeous. It's my city now, too. I'm conscious of that. My country, my city, my playgrounds. And now, Amsterdam is my hometown, too.