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

I can’t do this anymore. You have to choose. So what’s it gonna be, h – – – –

Oh, cut the crap. Why do people think it’s catchy to start their book with such a corny line.
I put aside the first draft written by an over enthusiastic romcom lover and stare at the bright blue sky while flying above the Atlantic ocean.

My beloved publisher thought it would do me some good to read through a few potential clients while flying to New York.
Yes, that’s my life right now. I work parttime at my publisher’s company, because I managed to screw up my second book deal and forced myself to accept the job offer.
At least I am still able to continue my ‘I am a woman of the world, and need no-one to help me out’- vibe.
Which basically means translated to the real world; I am still capable to pay my rent.

And I need to re-win their trust in me.
I got a little intoxicated by my own confidence a few months back while discussing my second book deal and the long contract attached to it.
And maybe the nerves mixed with my love for whisky wasn’t the best combination either.
Anyways, shit happens Ann. Let’s continue looking forward shall we?

So far looking forward is awfully annoying.
I might be flying first class because the firm payed for my ticket, but this asshole in front of me adjusting his seat for the past 4 freaking hours is simply awful.
After 30 minutes of Headspace I realise an app can’t fix my anger in this certain moment and decide to redeem my wifi voucher and read the news.
And their is the headline, the headline I hoped to never read again.

The country I’m heading to is once again torn apart with many broken hearts.
Another shooting at a school, lives taken, innocent children killed because the president refuses to change the gun law.
Denying the facts, attached to weapons that should be declawed from people whom think they have the right to end someone else’s life.
Yet nothing happens, guess money instead of caring about your fellow creatures makes you blind.
I scroll up and down to find the answer.
But next to the mention of such pointless crime. I see a news item about a reality star whom adapted a new dieting regime.
Guess what got the most likes?
I look to my left and a fellow passenger reads the same item. I hear a gasp, he shakes his head and scrolls down to something that makes him happy.

I find it fascinating to see how social media works these days. It’s something that keeps us connected.
We share our hopes & dreams, throwback pictures from when we were teens and yet it leaves most of us feeling so empty.
I grew up in the time where the whole mobile phone – computer – iPod era just started.
Remember when you had to text as compact as possible? ‘Cause other wise your text would change in a MMS, and that was hella’ expensive.
Buying credits each month and promising yourself you wouldn’t use it all in one week.
And when you run out of it, it was all good.
No one was angry at you the next day at work or school for not texting back, nor forgetting to like a picture or responding to a GIF that one of your friends found on the internet.

I don’t know what to do. I lean my head back in my seat and turn of my phone.
Hypocrite I know, but after endless minutes of overthinking the whole situation, I’m still confused.

“Ma’am, would you like anything to drink? You have to stay hydrated, it’s a long flight.”
The friendly voice on my right makes me snap back to reality, as my thoughts continue to paint pictures of everyday violence we’ve gotten so used to in the back of my mind.
“Ha, thanks for the reminder. I’ve been traveling this route for a few years now, and every time I’m high up in the sky I forget the one thing could make me look less puffy and old at the end of the flight.”
She laughs, I laugh and everyone around me laughs.
I’m pretty sure those kids at school were laughing about the same kind of silly jokes and goofing around before they got shot.
Why?

I order a coconut water, I’m going all out while flying business class, and grab a few more first drafts from my suitcase.
There’s one that catches my eye, someone wrote a story about gun violence.
About how guns are not the problem, but the person attached to it.
How the bullets aren’t causing the most harm, but the words that have been said to the shooter before they decided to act like this.
A story sadly so accurate.
It leaves me wondering what else this writer has to say, craving for more. As I decide to write an email to my agent telling to her to sign him.

I know all the other drafts are written with passion, blood, sweat and tears. But I’ve read enough for today.
I try to clear my mind, put on some music and decide to read the rest when I arrive in New York.
I’m familiar with the endless months and even years it could take to finally finish your story, so scrolling to this stack of hopes and dreams while being tired is unfair.

I lean my head back once more trying to get some rest, trying to sleep.
I should be excited for the fact that I’m flying to New York. My writing skills have amazed me once again.
For the upcoming days I’ll be brainstorming with extraordinary songwriters, spending my days rapping and editing words and rhymes.
I have to pinch myself from time to time, this is really happening. This is the dream I am living. My dream. The dream I had since the age of four.
Being able to pay my rent by doing the one thing I love the most, writing.
The fact that I partied a little bit to hard the past couple of months and spend a bit to much money on food and even more food is something I set aside.
I mean, I could have bought a place if I wanted to. But cat litter, medication for older cats and trips to the vet come with a price tag.
Not that I’m complaining, writing and saving unwanted life companions is the best thing ever.
And I don’t think my story ends in Amsterdam, but we will see.

For a second I realise I don’t come across as someone whom overthinks everything in her life.
That I’m not deeply hurt by all the shit that is happening in this chaotic world that we live in.
That the sad songs I write aren’t as accurate as I tell myself nor the people around me, that there are still moments when I feel lonely.

For a second I feel like I am on top of the world, no anxiety controlling me.
‘Cause like I mentioned, I am living my dream. What’s my right to be sad?
Read the news Ann, there are people living much worse lives than you do, remember that.

And there, I hear at least one of those voices talking to me when I try to fall asleep. Nagging constantly, disappointing me.
I ask one of the flight attendants for another bottle of coconut water as I make my way to the restroom.

I could continue to dwell in the past or embrace the future and see what happens next.
Oh, look who would be proud of me. I sound as an grown up. Stop complaining.
I made a few mistakes, and 100% sure I will make a few more give or take.
I can learn from my past, make it my guide for the future.
I can re-visit those moments and feelings whenever I want – but I think it’s time to start living again.

I see myself in the mirror. Goddammit depression, you grew on me.
I can see glimpse of therapy lighten up my eyes when I try to smile.
That new person, I call her “her”, she looks nice.
And she’s ready for a new adventure.

Oh my faded taste for life. Oh my wasted tears I cried. Let’s bring back this dream I had since I was a kid, let’s live and do it right.
I can’t do this anymore Ann. I’m leaving this shit – fuck it. Life passes anyway, might as well take a few risks.
You have to choose. So what’s it gonna be. Her – – – – or me?