When, at the first Amsterdive meet-up, I got prompted to write about the downsides of living in Amsterdam, I thought it was an unusual request. My readers know all too well that this platform centres on the positive, on what’s to celebrate about the city. I’m the type who loves a good creative challenge so I did promise them that I would write my take on the pitfalls of living here. I have written about it once before. Twice, actually. The prompt made me realise that the regulars at this site want to see the entirety of the picture, not a sum of parts. I think that some aspects I’ve parodied will be very recognisable to most people, others not at all. Here is my perspective (subjective, personal and all that) on the city of muddy canals and mad bikers after having lived here for seven years. Here we go.
It usually hits me when I’m cycling. The physical motion is inviting to a state of mindfulness and, from there, this inner-awareness often arises. It starts out with this feeling that there’s something I need to get rid of. As if I were carrying too many things on me, things that ‘don’t belong’. I might be tired, feel spaced out, or unsettled.
“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so you apologize for the truth” // Benjamin Disraeli
“I am afraid I can’t fall in love anymore”, my friend tells me, with a smartphone in hand, his Tinder account left open. The shiny screen he holds so tightly is a promise of happiness in the form of endless beautiful faces smiling at you, stating availability, opening a passage to something greater than the dullness of everyday life, the loneliness most of us know all too well.
It all started like this. He shuffled up the cards and suggested I picked one. SO… I did. I read the question. I sighed. Here comes a hard one, was the thought that crossed my mind. I wouldn’t have been able to answer this question, in all honesty, ten years ago. Now I know that it’s important that I do. When we’re sincere and open about our struggles, we help others feel less inadequate and less alone. If not for you, do it for them.
In August 2017 I wrote this little piece on feeling sombre while I was house-sitting at a friends’ place in De Pijp. I had no house of my own at the time and that might have contributed to the gloominess that took hold of me. However, I believe that this could have taken place on a regular day, on regular life circumstances, and I want to share it with you today. “Sad is bad” is how this piece started. Well, let’s move on to the text and you’ll probably see what I mean.