13 October 2010

Amsterdam: The Unrequested Baptism in Highly Undervalued Shoes

Is today the day?  Yes, today should be the day, it feels right, it's noon and I'm not sick.  But it's cloudy.  It's been raining again and the park will be muddy and wet.  It's probably going to rain more.  But where else should we go?  There's no place better.

It's better with chocolate, but save some for later.  You never know when your life might demand more chocolate.

I can't believe the trees have golden leaves that are falling on the ground.  It's my favorite time of the year but it's too soon, it doesn't make sense that it's happening already.  But I like my sweater, covered in little golden leaves.

The dogs in this park are the muddiest, happiest dogs in the entire world.  They run up and down the paths by the old Dutch ladies on the park benches chasing tennis balls with their muddy paws and muddy bellies.  A man hits his tennis balls with a racket, far out into the marsh.  His muddy dog loyally jumps into the water.

This park bench is a good place to call our home, beneath a tree with little golden leaves on a path with little muddy dogs and in front of the plaza with the red flowers and the hedges shaped like a page from a Geometry textbook.  My best math subject in high school.

The Turk tells us that he is a famous salesman who could make the rain stop.  I watch the wave of rain come across the water behind him as he boasts.  I'm sorry, I don't really want your Heineken today.  The Turk is sad that he isn't making money today because of the rain.  No one wants to drink Heineken in the rain, apparently.  He has a cigarette (on us) as consolation, sits for a minute quietly and disappears.

A little muddy dog runs past.

The sun finds it's way around the clouds which roll past pulsing and throbbing through little golden leaves.  The cloud separates and spirals around itself like a page from a Geometry textbook.  I can't look at the tree, only its happy little golden leaves that frame the symphony clouds.

In that one brain of mine is all the memories I have ever created.

My parents are discussing whether or not I am ready to go to school at four years old.  I'm technically ready but they're not sure if I'm social enough.  I am coloring at the foot of their bed.  No, he'll be fine.  I'm scared to go.

I have this computer game.  You conquer the world in it.  You should come over to my place and we'll stay up all night until we beat it.  We'll buy the soda with the extra caffeine to make sure we don't sleep.

I am in my apartment that I pay for with my own money wishing that I could sleep.

I talk all night on the phone during the summer to the guys from school.  Then we talk on the phone all night to our girlfriends.  Then I fall asleep on the phone with my girlfriend.  Then I whisper to my girlfriend on the phone I fall asleep with and learn why she breathes so heavily on the receiver at night.  Then I fall asleep after phone sex with my girlfriend.  Then I fall asleep after real sex with my girlfriend.  Then there are other girlfriends.  Now there are none.  Now there is a park bench and little golden leaves.

Do you know how to tell if berries are poisonous?  First you take one berry and squeeze the juice out on the back of your hand.  Then you wait an hour.  If your hand hasn't broken out in hives by then, then your throat probably won't either.  Then you take one berry and squeeze just a little of its juice onto your tooth.  Slide your tongue over your ambiguously poisoned tooth and wait an hour.  If you aren't sick after an hour you can continue.  Take one berry and eat it.  Wait an hour.  If you're still alive you can try to eat five berries.  Wait an hour.  Et cetera.  It's a lot of work for berries that probably aren't even very good berries, but it could make the difference between being alive and being dead.

When I met Brandy with a "Y" I knew who she was but had never spoken to her.  I had never intentionally been in the same room with her.  "I'm sorry, do you mind if we stop here first, it's our friend Brandy (with a 'Y') her father passed away."  When I met Brandy with a "Y" she was standing in a parking lot crying.  Her father had slid his tongue around the barrel of a rifle like a poison berry he hadn't sampled first.  Brandy with a "Y" hugged me.  "It means so much to me that you came."

Brandy with a "Y" surely doesn't think about me now.  I met her on an unplanned side trip, founded on a friend's apology on the way to somewhere like a church meeting for a God I'd already started making mocking jokes about.  I flip through the Bible looking for pages on sex and slavery and bears that eat children.

I think about Brandy with a "Y" all the time.  But not her, really.  I don't know her.  I know that parking lot.  I know feeling ashamed that her father's shortened life didn't impact me at all, that I didn't know her before that moment.  That I was really there just for me (and barely even for me) and I'd never considered her emotional state for even a second before that parking lot.  I know hugging back and meaning it and kissing her soft blonde hair and saying that everything was going to be okay and wanting to be the one who loved her instead of the abusive boyfriend who didn't even show up that night.

The first time Brandi with an "I" fell asleep on me it was on a bus.  She listened to my "Guster" album.  She smelled like "Ralph" by Ralph Lauren, which I was later informed was a perfume for sluts by girls who said "sluts" extra scornfully.  Slutty girls that fall asleep on buses with boys who pet their hair and still never really kiss them except maybe once in the back room for a second that honestly doesn't even count.

Now, I prefer a much more refined Chanel.  But sometimes Ralph makes me smile.  I can smell it from across the room, inhaling deeply.

There are only maybe five spots on the "cool" bus for freshmen, we have to make sure we get on that bus.  We got on that bus.  I had my first kiss.  I wonder if anyone ever tried to get on my bus to have their first kiss or if there even was a cool bus after the cool bus crowd graduated high school and went away.

The deep deep heavy breathing on the other end of the phone line.  The extra long phone line I bought so that I could lay in bed while I listened to raspy breaths.  The extra long phone line that was too long really, coiled copper intercepting the phone calls of strangers and we played the game where we were very very very quiet, trying to listen to whatever they may be saying to each other and wondering if they could hear our raspy breaths and orgasms.

The odd, odd feeling of having grown up with so many people that are so far away that I feel like I grew right past them.  And they stayed where they were, staring at me like some curious anomaly.  "New York?  Isn't that place really fast?"

Catherine, saying to me in a non-ironic fashion:  We are the fucking elite.  There are rules for other people that don't know how to get around them.  That doesn't apply to us.  We are above it.

The sun is out as the clouds dance in their kaleidoscope geometry book page behind the little golden leaves.

We are above it.  I empathized far too much with Raskolnikov when I first read those pages.  I was him.  I can get away with it, I am that strong and you can't stop me.  I can do whatever I want and I will.

The clouds are suddenly darker and rushing and squeezing and swirling and the birds are audibly upset.  There are no muddy dogs with muddy dog bellies.

And I stare into the eyes of whatever God is. If he has eyes I don't know but I stared past little golden leaves into them and said I can do whatever I want to do and I spit into his eyes whether they existed or not.  I spit and I laughed and I cried and I spit and I laughed.

And the rain came down.  It didn't hesitate, the Sky opened up and It is coming and it came and it will come and it fell on us like the hand of a God with spit in his eye that doesn't exist.  My jeans are soaked and my sweater (that I like) is soaked and my socks have become a hilarious parody of what socks should be and I could step straight in to the canals of this city and be drier than I am right now as God himself humbles us on our park bench that we call home.  The two spoiled children who are (kind of) right when they say such bastardly, over-confident things but they can't stop the rain any better than a sad Turk Heineken salesman can and the lightning flashes above us as we get up to leave.

Where can we go?  Nowhere.  We don't actually know where we are.  There is no shelter here, but the joggers are still jogging in circles so we will just drippedly walk through the rain.

Over there is a covered stage with a man with a beard that says to me that we probably don't have the same religious background and he says something incomprehensible to me in Dutch.  I say, "I think it may rain."  And he throws his head and his beard back and laughs and shakes his head.

A man in a tiny car opens his door beside the dry stage and plays strange music.  American top 40's with the same cheesy station identifiers that we know back home, wherever the fuck that is.  I don't know the address but I know the sound of the station identifiers.

There is a girl with a bike with a plastic bag on her dry seat and an umbrella and she is the most Dutch thing I've seen all day.  But her smile is French and it radiates the kind of cuteness and shy passion that makes me say that your face is the only thing I can see when I close my eyes at night and ma cherie ma cherie your name is all I hear when people are speaking and the gods themselves lament for ever having made eyes as perfect as yours because there will never be a pair of eyes again that can compare and I will buy you pearls and watch you put on your make-up and kiss your neck in the mirror and fill your womb with our children that we will love wholly, even if imperfectly as our skin withers but our hands with our withering fingers can still never be happy unless they are intertwined like our legs were after our first night of passion together, ma cherie, ma cherie.

We eat chocolate.

The rain slows down and the man with the tiny car drives away and the man with the beard says that we have no more music.  I say, "No.  Music is kaput."  The man with the beard throws his head and his beard back and laughs and shakes his head.

The lights in the park blink on in a wave and it's time to go, sloshing in my sad wet cold shoes.

I bought the shoes three days before I left the country.  They weren't the color that I wanted (and I care about color.)  They were a half size too small, which was noticeable.  They told me that they could order me the shoes I wanted and they'd be ready in two weeks.  I don't have two weeks.  I bought the shoes in the O.K. color that were a little too small.  I paid forty dollars and change.

And, I suppose to prove a point my second choice shoes said to me that they'd samba my feet that can't samba in rhythm with the steps of a Brasilian and that they would carry me to the top of a mountain that is higher than the clouds are and throw me right off the face of it and that they would carry me across beaches and up stairs and stairs to monasteries and up towers painted with demons who eat sinners like me for breakfast.

I took off my clothes and stared into a mirror and realized that I'd lost some of the baby fat that I could never lose before.  My skin is red and rashed from too much walking.  I turned on the shower and the water was warm.  So much water falling from the sky today, but this was not water of wrath, this was like my mother soothing my wounds.

In Denmark they have a word, "hygge," that roughly translates to a sort of familiar coziness - the kind of coziness that brings joy to winter days that spend eighteen hours each in the dark.  I want to fall into the arms of a beautiful woman who isn't a stranger right now.  I want for just one second her to tell me that everything is going to be O.K. in a parking lot maybe and maybe also wake up beside her while she's still sleeping and make french toast - because I can do it quite well with brioche and Grand Marnier - and because she'd love it and I love giving her the things that she loves and then I could go back to being the pillar, the stone that I am - that I can be, the infuriating stone, unfinished Michelangelo marble with unpolished hammerstrokes emerging from my sleeves like trophies or scars, the stone that spits at God's eyes that don't exist until the sky opens up and erodes it into dust.

I want to know what people will think when I say that this girl is the most Dutch thing I've seen all day.  Or how it rains and I say, oh this is just Holland.  That street has the good croissants.  As if I should know where the good croissants are in Amsterdam.  I know a great place to have your hair cut the next time you're in Stockholm and there's this little tent in Switzerland that is the only place with affordable beer in town, they'll even play your own music if you make a playlist on your iPod.  Really just having to have olives with my beer and saying things like how French that is while I shrug or that babies at home aren't as cute as babies in Scandanavia.  Scoffing at dried pasta.  The path through this alley that is a street but doesn't even look like a street is the shortcut home.  Whatever home is now.

Argentina has beaten defending world champions Spain 4 - 1.

I apologize to my shoes.

I close my eyes and listen to heavy breaths and the distant conversations of strangers and static.

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