Ann From Amsterdam

Chapter I, My name is Ann

– – – Written by Michelle, loosely* based on her own life, featuring Ann. Both going through some changes and restyling their lives, both renewed in Amsterdam. – – –

   *very loose

Every now and then, I have those moments… I cycle along the cafes on a sweet summer night and there they are; couples so sticky like half thawed sandwiches, stuck by their stickiness in a toaster. I find it enviable. But at the same time I am enjoying the charm of the single life. The arrogance. The total freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. No accountability to make against anyone. Get home at 3 am. Go to bed at 9 pm. Eating pizza 4 days in a row. Eating THAT soggy sandwich at 8 in the morning. No one around to tell you it’s not healthy, no one to tell you whatever. Except Max. ‘Cause every time he hears the ping of the microwave. I can tell he wonders enviously, why the hell I am wasting my money on ready-made meals. With twisted ears and a grumpy face judging me big time, only as a cat can do.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure you thought by reading the first line about sweet summer nights, that this is yet another fantastic cliche story about love and happiness and romance and a happily ever after and bla bla bla bla… Well, news flash, it’s not. That kind of action hasn’t been feasible in the past few weeks. Oh what the heck, whom am I lying to, it’s more like the past few months. But hè, stories are there to write and rewrite including some fictional romance to sell the right stories, right?

My publisher told me that I have to get back to basics, back to my own writing style and not let my succes define my writing. Wel, I lost it all. 2 successful bestsellers and a lot of positive media attention, amazing feedback and enthusiastic readers…and I am empty, with zero inspiration lately and a writers block with the capitals FML. And I know that William Stafford wrote down the utterly truth; ‘There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standers are low enough’. But seriously, how low can you go, because I am reaching rock bottom right now.
Maybe I am too searching for my soggy sandwich, searching for some steadiness in my life. Someone who can get me out of the rut and tell me there biggest dreams in every detail with a good glass of wine, with conviction, full of passion and the urge to make it work on a warm summer night like tonight.
But I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. ‘Cause searching for someone to fill up the emptiness in your live when you’re lonely, is like eating at least 4 chocolate bars when you’re sad/angry or a little depressed. Even though you told yourself you weren’t going to eat those in the first place, because you bought them for the weekend and you have to remind yourself while standing in line at the checkout that you finally got your shit together and your emotions under control. It won’t work.
And yet there is Kay, four tables away. Sitting in the twilight with the last rays of the evening-sun, lighting up his face thru the trees. He is reading “How to kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, one of the many must reads for every individual walking this earth. And one of the many books, gathering dust at my place due the lack of time.

The reason why I know Kay by his surname, is because we know each other for way to long, without knowing each other at all. You know those people? Whether you meet them on a weekly basis when visiting the supermarket, while running for the train on your way to work and you are seated next to that same person ones again, or just a friendly face at your favourite coffee shop. (the shop with the good coffee here in Amsterdam, not the weed shop that might sell coffee as well). And it’s funny how a friendly face can make you feel very comfortable with yourself and your money spending set of life. Because, come on. I could make and drink coffee at home, but then I would be missing out on all the drama that sets place at the shops everyday with all the people who pop in, all live life like nobody is watching and giving me much needed inspiration to write too many story lines that I won’t use in the end anyways. And I would miss Gina here genuine smile, every time she greets me when I arrive in the early morning, to park my coffee, laptop and myself in the corner, just to write and watch everyone. And I say genuine. ‘Cause as much as it helps as a student to get some extra money while working, the tips can be great. No one is forcing her to smile on a bad day, no one is forcing her to remind me that I had a different kind of muffin and loved it last time I was here and no one is forcing her to ask full of interest what I am working on. Not by her supervisor, not by her boss. You can only fake so much in life, a genuine smile is not one of those things.

But anyways, back to Kay. With his dark brown hair, colourful eyes and tattoo sleeves I wonder if there could be a taller example of a perfect boyfriend than this guy. Kay has given me the calmness I’ve been searching for since god knows when. And he brought it with such ease when we first met 2 years ago. I’ve seen many faces come and go in the past 7 years while living in Amsterdam, but Kay has become a part of my life since our first encounter. We don’t talk to each other outside our casual rendezvous. We don’t know much about each others families, work and personal lives other than the standerd basics. We just talk, every week, at least ones a week, at least every Monday morning. I walk in the cafe a little before 10, right after my morning run. Gina brings me my coffee and points out ones again I should stop drinking the amount of coffee I am taking. We laugh she turns around and there you are right behind her, 10 am sharp, ready to start the day together. I’m not someone who wants to get completely stuck in habits and patterns but our casual meetings is something I could get used to. Or perhaps I already do. We can talk for hours about nothing important. Express our frustration, anger or joy regarding many reasons other people won’t understand no matter how hard you try to explain your point of view. Or we just sit in the corner, quietly, writing without saying a word for endless pleasant minutes.

7 years ago I decided that it was time to continue my search for peace in the best capital of the world; Amsterdam. And 2 years ago Kay fell in my life, literally.
He is able to trigger something deep inside me, something many people fail to do time after time, because I’ve created this big wall around myself and he just tripped and knocked it over. But I found my peace in one of the most crowded cities of the universe and cherish it everyday. There is something ‘magical’ about the big city. For some reason I am able to use my creativity much more and getting better while staying here. Maybe it’s because the urban lifestyle brings freedom without knowing and you just let loose once you realise it. Amsterdam is a bustling city with many fascinating individuals. Somehow it is a bit more socially acceptable to do your grocery shopping while wearing a bathrobe on a Sunday morning. Wearing a bright orange dungarees while grabbing a coffee on Rembrandt Square, or just casually mentioning your ‘between jobs’ just for a few days. Despite the fact you know it’s been like that for a few weeks, but no one seems to care about that.
Amsterdam’s soberness and way of thinking combined with the Dutch mentality, they remind you that if you want something in life; you have to do it by yourself. But at the same time, stay humble while doing it and never forget where you came from and how you have ‘gotten to the place where you are right now. People in the big city care much more about themselves than others, not everyone, but many do. Because many are searching for the same inspiration like I am regarding whatever profession they have. They live freer because life in the big city is freer. And while visiting the supermarket, or clubbing or catching up with friends in the pub. It might makes you meet people whom also feel the same way you feel and do there grocery shopping in there badrobe, even on a Tuesday morning! And yeah, am I becoming that weird person whom thinks to much about what people think. Or am I getting closer to living my life freely without wondering what people think of me at all?

Thinking, thinking, creating the art of overthinking. Playing every thought in my mind back and forward like I always do, why? I leave the further introduction about Kay and how he fell into my life for the next time. Including my publisher who thinks I should use my relationship with Kay as a idea for my next book and writing inspiration. Since she thinks romance is always the answer for ideas and since she feels I need to stop looking for ideas and just watch what is right in front of me. But I don’t know if my friendship with Kay is worth it to romanticize..and is there even a friendship between us? What would you call a relationship like this?
I will overthink that thought a bit longer tonight while drinking my second glass of wine and watching the tall guy reading with all the other people laughing and talking around him. Including the couples dancing around the evening sun, sticky as an ice cream that is melting in your hand on a summer night like this with no napkin around to prevent you from sticky vingers getting stuck together. Oh how I love these midsummer eves.