Once upon a time, there was a beach girl.
This blog post could just consist of this sentence for that it actually contains the whole concept in itself. I have written about this beach girl before. But still, I’ll develop the story a bit further.
There are people who take public transportation when it snows, and the ones who still bike. You can call them the die-hards. Well, it seems that the beach girl belongs to this last category. That’s why she has fallen from her bike, on the first day of snow, on her way to Museumplein. Anyway. For this girl, it is obvious that she will bike when it’s snowing. If not then, when? I mean, she waits the entire year for this, and still, the last four years she didn’t get to experience anything of the sort.
It starts with the splash of freezing wind on her face like a wake-up call: the snowflakes sitting on her temples, on the hairs looking out from her hoodie, the skin of her face tomato-red and the eyes so white. The beach girl is suddenly awake from the haze, the haze that takes over her during winter. Every time the same wonders: how can the snow feel so soft, the same softness she hears under her feet, and how the softness can actually have a sound. How it delicately sits when it lands on her and on the objects around making everything look pretty, even cars and dirty chimneys look pretty, even dodgy streets and tacky suburban high-rises look pretty, and not just pretty but purified – the visual noise of the city is suddenly gone. It’s like magic. It’s like magic how something cottony-like can cover hard massive structures in a matter of hours, like an immense, deep blanket. Mundane spaces turn mysterious as though we’re in another dimension of time – maybe the one of a fairytale or the outer space. Everything is reduced to the minimum – the noise and the visuals. Suddenly there’s silence and, from the undefinable whoo of the snow setting, the arising sound of footsteps nearby, a sledge being pulled, someone who opens a door, the rubbing of clothing as they move.
Have you ever walked in a park during a snowstorm? Have you noticed how your breath gets heavier after a while of walking on snow? It’s not only the crackling of it under your feet, it’s even the movements of your body, even YOU get a different sound, one that comes from the inside and resembles an animal of some sort, walking decisively, breathing and moving coordinately. I am here, your movements say. I AM HERE.
All at once the beach girl stops in the middle of what she remembers being a grass field. She is at this place called Westerpark. She knows the grass fields of the Westerpark. But now she doesn’t recognize it, it’s as if she’s exploring an unknown land. She hears the stillness. _______________________________________________________________________
Then she gets in this pace again, this meditative sort of state in which she just has to focus on getting one foot in front of the other, going from one place to the next, figuring out how to get there safely, one thing at a time. From the distance maybe she looks like the abominable snowwoman. She giggles. And she giggles so much that at a certain point she’s not sure whether the wetness of her face isn’t snow mixed with tears. There’s no way to know for sure. She continues her venture.
When the beach girl moved to the land of the low temperatures, people would ask her: “Waar kom je vandaan?”, and then, surprised by her answer, they’d remark: “What are you doing here when you have such pleasant weather back on the Southern coast?”. She used to smile and say: “There’s more to life than weather conditions”. Now, as she observes the snow, she thinks the white season suits people quite as well as the sunny one. “It is still the same ocean”, she thinks, “with just a different shape and feel”. Once upon a time, there was a beach girl who would bike in the snow, fall and rise up again, and get to know the world on the other side. Get to know herself from the other side. Once upon a time, there was a beach girl who would feel alive in the snowstorm.