Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Picasso's 'The Fish' Returns:

Sometimes I can't comprehend that I live in Amsterdam. Life has normalized. Nothing is 'foreign' anymore. Beyond the massive amounts of beautiful buildings and the picturesque Dutch landscape, Amsterdam feels like home. No longer do the letters 'IJ' next to each other make me say: 'Um. What??' And, after about three years in this magical city, alongside this normalized life, I've amassed a collection of spaces and places that I could easily call a second home. But, given that most of these spaces and place are outdoors–doing that would technically make me homeless. At least half of the time. Wouldn't it? For most people, these 'spaces and places' are usually cafés, restaurants, bars, etc. I have, however, collected the most wonderful assortment of random (but lovely) patches of grass, tucked away park benches, and vantage points that let me watch the world pass by. Usually these places in the city of Amsterdam tend to have a sense of 'protection' or 'removed-ness' to them. Meaning I can see everyone and everything, while they can't see me. But of course, this is a totally ridiculous concept, because no matter where you are in the city of Amsterdam–someone is usually watching you. That's just the way it works here. You can think you're totally alone in the city, when in reality you're surrounded by everyone. Though not 'protected' or 'tucked away' in any sense, the field directly in front of 'The Fish' sculpture by Picasso, in Vondelpark–still calls my name every time I pass by it. Last week I, once again, visited this most beloved spot of mine. It made me stop, reflect, and realize just how much I've accomplished since moving to Amsterdam. Sometimes I still can't believe that I live in Europe. It's often easy to forget. At some point the built environment of any city will 'grow on you', over time. Becoming just another backdrop for the events that constitute life. But every once in a while, if I slow down, sit down, and take a good look around–that built environment reappears. Last week, when I did just that (that is: sit down. slow down and look around), I saw 'The Fish' again for the first time–and I couldn't help but think how lucky I am, to live in Amsterdam.