This story is dedicated to Linda, Jan, Giulia, Bernardo, Vanessa, Shari, Theodora, Sima, and Pavlina
We did it. And I’ve promised you a piece of writing on it. Here it is.
On a sunny Saturday ten of us came together at cultural cafe Oko Melting Point in Amsterdam. You had seen the event on Facebook. Or perhaps you saw a mention on Instagram, or maybe you got the newsletter. In any case, for some reason, every single one of you thought it was a good idea to trade free access to vitamin D for this thing called “Hear Here – An Amsterdive meet-up”. And you really were there. Not the way that we sometimes show up to a networking event. You guys were actually present, which was the core value of the meet-up.
I started by telling you a story about my grandfather. How he made an impact at a certain point in my life for the fact that he had retained one precious slice of information about me. He still knew the answer I gave as a child when someone asked me what I wanted to become when I grew older. But here’s what I didn’t tell you: I never had much contact with this grandpa of mine. From all of my family members, he was the least likely to know. Or so I thought. Yet, the very fact that he was present when we came together changed everything. He was far from imagining he’d be the main character in a gathering I’d organise almost ten years after that day in which he reminded me: “Whether a painter, whether a writer”.
If life were a movie, after the epiphany I had at my grandpa’s place at 25 years old, I’d have thrown myself into furious creation. I’d sat down and written every day at my desk overlooking the river Tejo in Lisbon until I had finished a book. I would’ve created a blog, written daily blog posts about life in a then relatively desolate and unknown capital city, and became “THA blogger”. Or I would’ve picked up painting again. I would’ve visited my father. Perhaps making him teach me his techniques and pencils would’ve saved my life.
Instead, I sat down and had all these ideas that I didn’t put to practice. And I did try all these other things. I’ve studied Theatre at Uni so I did some acting after that. I’ve created blogs about art-house-cinema and about creative fashion. And a personal one. I put up a plan, together with a couple other folks, to renew an old movie theatre and gloriously open it back to the public, which we never really acted on. I started a master’s in Art and Communication which I dropped shortly afterward to initiate a career as a chef. Working as a sushi-girl didn’t last because, in Portugal, that was really dog’s life.
Jumping to NOW: I’m typing on my laptop from my living room and writing for likeminds and organising meet-ups that bring us together and give an extra dimension to this thing called Amsterdive. So blogging it is (what else?). Content creation, they call it in the meanwhile. I had devoted most of my adult’s life to blogs. Makes sense.
Life works in mysterious ways and, apparently, I had to try all of these things, and “fail” at all of them, and live all of these adventures, and travel, and love different people, to get here now. Some things remain mysteries partly. Why did it take me so long to embrace my creative path fully, why did I have to spend half my life procrastinating, why was it so difficult to get out of the “artistic closet” (still working on it), why so much resistance. I have the Freudian and the Jungian answers. Perhaps a more holistic overview of these struggles will be more clear in a couple of decades. These questions were the root that made me want to ask you, during the meet-up, about where you came from. Not the country, but the place that sets you alive. Is it music? Is it macrame? Is it backflipping? Can you remember your essence? What are you craving? I finished my grandpa’s story that afternoon with “and today I want to help YOU remember”. I hope you did. I hope it takes you less long than it did with me, but if it doesn’t, I hope you know it’s okay and we’re all trying to figure it out.
During the first “Hear Here” you all shared a stories about yourselves. We had coffee, tea, cake. Then we discussed topics like intimacy, creativity, purposeful work, change, inspiration, stability, making friends, making time for reading and for long walks. All of them brought by your thirsty brains (was about to say thirsty beings but then I wondered if it sounded too alien-like). We dived deep, which was all I could wish for the meet-up. Later, I met Jan @instamsterdammer at a different event and, in between cocktails and a glamorous marketing speech none of us was very interested in, he whispers to me: “I realised the other day what happened at your meet-up”. I squinted. “People wanted to learn how to be (more) human”.
Thank you for your patience, my dear readers. Excuse me if it took me almost one month to write this thank you note and to review a meet that was, for me, one of 2019’s highlights. Maybe this is an apology to myself. For that, I made that kid who wanted to become a writer or a painter wait for too long. I want to create more. I want to create more consistently. I want to create. And I want to continue learning to be more human, as usual, having Amsterdam as the playground. Because now I know that I’m not alone in this.
P.S. You guys requested I wrote two articles. One on the downsides of living in Amsterdam. The next one on why is it important to learn Dutch as a foreigner. I’m on it.