Thursday, October 9, 2008
There really isn't a whole lot to say about Amsterdam other than it is a twisted, lust filled, intoxicating little world that easily sucks in even the more prudish tourists. One minute you're walking down the streets scoping out wooden shoes and frites smothered in mayonnaise (wtf?) the next you have a perfectly nice stranger on the street offering you 'shrooms (wtf?)
I AM STERDAM, their famous sign makes even more sense after you've been there....through my visit I was able to say at various times; I AM insane, I AM in love with this place, I AM an artist, I AM brave, I AM making out with a Dutch boy? I AM aware, I AM so lost, I AM a bad ass I AM anonymous and naturally.....I AM....stoned.
When in Rome, when in Amsterdam? When in...wherever, do as they do, otherwise what's the point in traveling all the way around the world to stick to your stale ways. The whole concept of being able to walk up to a counter and discuss joint size and strength was so amusing to me I looked like Pollyanna at a weed convention. I'm no stranger to this natural little gift from nature by any means, but when I sat down, legal joint in hand, clearly looking like a newbie, a group of hippies befriended me, lent me their lighter and bought me a cappucino. Ah, I feel the stoner love. Let's chill and chill we did listening to soul and blues music on comfy couches and sipping large leafy tea's and extra strong coffee.
The few days I was in Amsterdam I drowned myself in it's culture. The quaint canal alleys and the crowded streets of every ethnic cuisine you could possibly think of, I wanted to sample something strange and foreign at every place. If I didn't know how to pronounce it, that's what I wanted to order. I cruised down the river and got lost on purpose, I marveled at the height of Dutch people and managed to only get hit by a bicycle once.
After visiting the Anne Frank House, The Van Gogh Museum (who is now one of my very favorite artists, I have an even deeper respect for him after visiting the museum) I decided....alright, it's TIME to buy some souvenirs. If you're going to go to any country and buy souvenirs, what better place that Amsterdam? Everyone wants wooden shoes, obviously.
After picking out a few wooden shoe keychains, the man at the counter struck up conversation when he noticed I was amused that he was reading Bill Bryson essays and laughing out loud while reading them to his coworker (who I found out later was his Mother) we chatted for a bit and then, since this is the way it works in Europe, we decided to meet up for drinks when he was off work.
Sitting in front of The Bulldog Coffee shop, waiting, I hear a ZOOOOOM and there he is, on his little Vespa in all his Dutch glory, coming to meet me for a drink. Ah, I have such a newfound love for meeting foreign men and flirting my face off....::sigh:: so wonderful, vampiness if a fun quality to have in the bag and whip out when necessary; foreignly, anonymously or exclusively. He was even more handsome than I'd noticed while consumed with the overstimuli of tiny things and shot glasses.
We shared a couple Heiniken's and proceeded to get closer and closer to each other until , OOPS! we're making out!
NOTE: This sort of behavior is VERY, VERY, VERY unlike me. I would like to point out that, which you know if you've been reading, I do NOT date, I do not make out with strangers, it's like pulling teeth for a man to get my phone number and I NEVER ever....have one night stands...........usually. Funny, that when I DID stop looking, men were flocking like herds of wild boars. If there is such a thing.
I hopped on the back of his Vespa and clutched to his chest while we zipped through tiny streets and quickly approached large groups of people, but managed to part right through them, Moses style. He showed me what the canals looked like at night with the lights lit around them, he explained Dutch culture and held my hands and asked about all of my rings. The night was followed up with an "unofficial" tour of the Redlight District which made me feel like a whore for being so amused with such licentiousness, I wanted to shake off the American way of shunning sexual things and embrace is. Sex, sex. sex.
That's the thing; Amsterdam, is crazy but completely sane and full of all types of people; turn on's and turn off's, dealers and tourists.... yet, nothing about the city feels dirty or "wrong."
There isn't a sense of judgment or guilt...it is what it is. Could have something to do with the fact that there are over 300 nationalities living in Amsterdam alone. Literally, every next person you meet is from somewhere new and the only way to live in harmony with people from such different cultures is to; accept them. What a concept, one that we as American's have a bit of a hard time grasping.
Though sex and drugs may be abounding in Amsterdam, it is a lovely city and I believe it's because everyone is living harmoniously, the way they desire. Even if their desires aren't akin to that of their neighbors, they still live their "right" way and that's just fine with those around them.
Almost everywhere I went I talked with the people next to me; people from Ireland, Bosnia, Holland, South Africa, Poland, and the list goes on. We shared drinks and cheers' in different languages, PROST! We talked about politics and travel, sex and food (two of my favorite things.)
Then, at a very brave moment I struck up conversation with the keyboard player at a packed jazz/blues bar. Then when he asked me to get up and sing with them, without hesitation I got on stage and took the mic.
I soaked in the energy of the people and pinched myself when my inner voice said, "Yeah Chels, you're singing with a JAM BAND IN AMSTERDAM, people are loving it and You. Are. Radical."
Amsterdam kicked my inhibitions straight out the window. My usually waning confidence was at a steady HIGH for four days straight. Amsterdam made me feel like I was pulsating with lust, passion, fervent energy and unabashed self assuredness. The way I felt in Amsterdam is the way I hope to feel most of the time in the states.
I wondered as I walked down the street, if I walked this confident, felt this "awake" everyday....what would change in my day-to-day life? I'm guessing quit a bit.
So in all of my "debauchery", Amsterdam was surely a highlight; the one night, the spliffs and the microphone. Dutch men, wooden shoes and other "wooden things"......Amsterdam made me think;
I AM MARVELOUS.
Your turn: I AM ______________________