Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Amsterdam (jumbled thoughts)

I spent the weekend in Amsterdam. I have so much to say I’m going to break it up into a couple of posts. But here we go……..

I got off the bus and maneuvered my way to the Metro and Central Station. I was in a little shock when I walked out of the station doors. Everywhere I turned there were buses, bikes, and people. Luckily, we had really good directions to our hostel and only walked for about 10 minutes before finding it. I was a little in aww as I dropped my stuff in a locker and looked at Ryan- lets go. We spent the first two hours wondering around the city. We crossed the canal in front of our hostel and wondered through the old center. The narrow streets twist and turn. My mind was in overload as I took in the characters, stumbling tourists, head shops, pornography, coffee shops, bars, bicycles, and endless fast food.

Day and night the streets are constantly buzzing with activity. There are so many people but somehow they all flow together. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, because everything in the center is bizarre. My mind was in a really good place to take in the streets. I just went with the flow of people and tried to observe everything. Even as bicycles and scooters were navigating past me in the crowded cobblestone I took things as they came. As I walked my mind kept trying to remember details. I need to find words to described just a sliver of the stories encompassed on each block.

There are no neat and tidy boxes in Amsterdam. St. Louis is a city of boxes. A box for public housing, a box for business, a box for students, a box for the poor, a county box for the wealthy. Amsterdam is fluid. Like the canals that run through it, the city lets everyone coexist and stream together. As I walked through the infamous red light district I found myself amongst white haired women, police, Japanese tourists, and hard drug dealers. Everyone exists and amongst the surface chaos there is an odd cohesiveness.

As a women I became hyper aware of the groups of men wondering around. Everywhere there were groups of 4 to 7 young and old men. Maybe if you take Amsterdam as a pure city of vice it is appropriate to come with a group of your best mates. So many times over the weekend I thought about my good friends in the states, I wished some how you could all be transported there with me. I even over heard a conversation between two British men making a pack to leave what ever happens this night in Amsterdam. Humans can be creatures of vice and liberation; Amsterdam is a mecca.

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