„Why are there no old, damaged buildings? City old as this one should have few of them, shouldn’t it?“ said Z’s grandpa, mostly to himself, which broke the silence we enjoyed for few canals now, walking and staring at the perfect, tall and thin, brick buildings and soaking its every detail. By saying this, it felt like he took the unwrapped hank of my indeterminate thoughts and started folding it together into something more meaningful.
“There is really no broken facade nowhere, is there?”, i asked myself looking at Z’s cheerful face giving no sign this piece of information is of any importance to him. He was simply happy he gets to call this city his home, show his family he has made it, with a well-paid job and buying an apartment, thinking I will join him very soon and he’ll get to thick that last box of a >Perfect life in Amsterdam< list. For a moment i was convinced the real reason all the buildings were crooked wasn’t because Mokummers wanted to have more room on their upper floors, but because by leaning their narrow peaks towards me these buildings were questioning all my doubts about life in this place. Why wouldn’t I like to live here? It is a dream town, clean, vibrant, international, accepting progressive ideas, people and cultures, unblushing and unwavering, moving boundaries and trendsetting. Opportunity hub. Diversity impetus. Capital of freedom. “No damaged facade.. Flawless”, I mumbled to my chin squinting to the buildings trying to catch some imperfection.
High pitched ring of warning approaching fast from behind stopped further thoughts folding and I automatically assumed I am walking on the wrong part of the street as i always do around here. Cyclist just ran past me, holding his phone with one and handlebar with another hand, blowing wind into my hair while passing by as I searched for a place where I am of least obstacle for the rest of them coming towards me and rushing somewhere. It happens a lot around here. Zero tolerance for the walkers. It was late afternoon but it looked as if it is noon, sun was still high up in the sky, playing one man show, not planning to settle down until 11pm. Its rays spread glitter over canals, between the houses lined up like chocolate bars, as boats of amazed tourists occasionally broke and swayed their reflections.
Z squeezed my hand, as to bring my attention back, directing me through the slithering crowds of people, encouraging me to move faster, so determined, as he was encouraging me often lately to move in with him. “You can do whatever you like” he would say and for a second, I would believe him and swing into thoughts of how my life would look like here. How would it be like to wake up in the freest city in the world by the man I love, have a coffee at the canal and throw some bread for the swans or ducks in it, waving back to the tourists on boats envying me on life like this, say “Goedemorgen” to my neighbors while meeting them cycling on my pink bicycle Z will give me, buy tulips at the street market and Gouda from a smiling Moroccan at the grocery store, grow tomatoes and herbs on the balcony and have a puppy I’ll be walking around Rijksmuseum. If only I haven’t had a job back home and contract I’m obliged to in the next three years, and if only over 50 of my job applications haven’t been rejected by these, flawless, accepting societies and if only I had a clue what would be a perfect job for me and was raised differently to accept financial support from a man and not feel guilty about it. If only some building had some shattered walls or broken stairs, or there was an ancient house barely standing on its own, growing weed and shrub, looking unattractive as it witnessed some turbulent times. Maybe then I would feel understood and less of an outsider, not pressured to fix my cracks and imperfections to fit this beautiful city. Maybe then I’d have some gut and survive some turbulent times here myself. Maybe.