Cycling through the rain

I would make the argument that this is the Dutch equivalent of dancing in the rain, but maybe it’s more of a communal habit rather than an outburst of passion. Who knows? All I can attest for is that I missed cycling and therefore I bought myself a bicycle yesterday.

Even though I was hoping the good weather of the past few days would’ve lasted a little while longer, rain decided to come pouring down on me as I just got on my bike to go home. Which any other type of rain would probably have left me feel grumpy for the rest of the day, but this was the type of rain that soaks you completely within seconds. So I laughed, and kept on going.

The whole city seemed to come to a halt. People lingering in doorways, staying a little while longer at the Bahnhof. Yet all it did was remind me of al the crazy dancing in the summers’ rain, the release of the pressing Dutch heat that we so fondly call ‘summer,’ it reminded me of home.

So there I was, cycling through the rain, but it felt like dancing.

 

The midnight bookstore

As so many people do, I romanticise bookstores, libraries, and anything of the likes. There where the endless possibilities of new books, not-yet-read stories, unexplored universes, worlds, people are. Basically, anything that can be created by a sequence of letters, it’s there and I’m over-romanticising it, and I love it. One can easily understand my attraction to the bookstore that’s opened until midnight every working day.

It was the same day as I found out these opening times that I decided to drop by at 11 pm, just because I could, and I did actually needed a new book to read (moving counties only allows you to bring so many of your own books, but on the bright side it does give you a good reason to buy new ones). As I was browsing through their English literature section, I overheard a snippet of a conversation between the midnight-bookstore-girl and a guy:

“so next to reading, what other hobbies do you have?”

“Oh well, I study…..”

I refocused my attention away, because there it was. A great love story in the making, whilst I was browsing for a love story already written. Driven by my curiosity what could happen in a midnight bookstore, and there was romance happening right in front of me. They talked and talked until 15 minutes before closing time, exchanged numbers, and in my mind had a happily ever after. Even though this just happened a week ago. Maybe the date went worse than your average tinder date, but I don’t care. My over-romanticising, this-is-never-going-to-happen, this is just fiction, just happened in front of me. Close to midnight, very Cinderella.

In short: my otherwise very boring Tuesday got suddenly interesting, and an added bonus: I did not leave with empty hands myself. With East of Eden tucked under my arm I walked back home, because it’s East Berlin, and I wanted to read a Steinbeck. Maybe next book I will find a midnight bookstore romance outside of fiction too, but for now, this thing between Steinbeck and me is going pretty well.

Monday resolutions

My dear friend A. once told me he loves Mondays. A statement I do not necessarily oppose, but I was interested in what his reasoning behind this type of thinking is.

“Mondays always offer new beginnings, like New Years does to most, Mondays just seem to open up all possibilities and resolutions for the week to come.”

This resonated with me to a certain extend and kept on lingering in the back of my mind. Yet, it did nothing for me. Mondays are just… well… Mondays. They are not the worst, not the best. They are the days after Sundays, the days on which you summarize your weekend. The days on which you pick up the work that was left on Friday. Responding to the emails that were not replied before the Friday afternoon drinks. Concluding the weekend.

Today was not that type of Monday. When I woke up at 4.30 to say goodbye to my friend F. and at 4.45 when my room was all empty again it repeated itself in my mind like a mantra. So it was at 5 am (a time that I’m no stranger with to be falling asleep) that I got up, sat at my desk, and wrote a to-do list of the day.

Now I’m not saying that a to-do list is anything revolutionary, but it does work its wonders with me most of the time. So unlike any other Monday, I didn’t conclude my weekend, I started my week, and I quite liked this change of pace.

Stages of grief

“So, do you finally feel at home?” He asks me casually. I look up from my beer to his face, one I still know well even though it has gotten older in these years of absence. His hair has gotten longer; his voice is still the same. He is a person I know; yet one I’m not familiar with. There is a sense of calmness over him that tells me that he does feel at home. Where ever that may be, I don’t know. In these four years he has become a stranger to me, of whom I know random details that are still stuck in my memory. Like his dislike for chicory, his shoe size, and even the way he lights a cigarette and smokes it still set a familiar scene.

I don’t have an answer to that question, so I just smile, take another sip of my beer, put down the glass and hear myself say “yeah, maybe.” But the truth is, in that moment it doesn’t matter whether I finally found myself a place to feel at home or not, the thing that does strike a chord is that he remembers these details about me too. Two strangers with too much shared memory and no shared future.

I gave up on the anger a long time ago, resentment a little later. I filed him in a segment of the memory-box that I hardly ever returned to. I went through all these stages of grief and arrived to a peaceful state of mind again.  Yet, I never expected to wholeheartedly be able to say: I hope you’re happy.

Sex and the City

“It’s real life, not Sex and the City,” my friend told me as I just finished another bingewatch and lingered in its drama. “Plus, you don’t need drama to allow yourself cocktails.” Which is the best advice you can have on any given Friday night, and feeling much better and de-dramatized I headed over to that one Italian restaurant, to meet with my Italian friends.