Saturday, 31 January 2015

Utrecht

We entered Utrecht pacing in quickly with the Saturday bustle. Cities closed down early here, just like home. So, similarly to home, Saturday was a big shopping day. Well, that's what I took from today. 
I ate a ham pancake to start off, and with a tickled tummy I was ready to go exploring this little city. We were in the heart of the shopping district and everyone was moving quickly to catch the sales. The air was filled with aromas because the open air market was also held that day, right in the heart of the town. There was fresh fish, 1 euro coffee, affordable clothes and right next to it: a mall and the central station. Utrecht was quaint and it pleased me in that manner. 

We walked, cyclists shuffling us out of their way. Although bustling, it was quite obviously evident that we were not in a big, crowded city. Cyclists seemed more patient and the amount of tourists were fewer. 
It was a slow day, which was necessary with the hurried pace this journey seemed to be taking on. By the end of it, I was able to enjoy a local beer in a small bar while watching people stroll by. 

The Air Under My Feet

The air dripped out of my feet
I was lifted with it,
as it filled my lungs,
then emptied it
In gray, heavy swirls
That heaved up and kissed my lips,
A body calling out
For the chemicals I faltered to.
The city with it all was no help,
Green herbs kissing my tongue
Often,
Canal waters washing the guilt
And cyclists echoing the call for health.
But the neon lights called to me
Blinking rhythmically
So I could not believe,
What my eyes had just seen.
I walk in for a coffee,
Order creative names instead;
And by the gram I measure my poison,

I want the earth to be swept from under me.

Friday, 30 January 2015

First Impressions

They say they give you the stars when you're in Amsterdam. Well, atleast I wish that's what they said. I came to realize it was true. All of the good things came in abundances and sometimes I guilted myself with thoughts of how selfish I am for being able to be here. 
My eyes stung, and I was either always in a food coma, amnesia haze or some orientation program. 

The air in central Amsterdam is blanketed in a light stench of cannabis. Tourists walk and take over old Amsterdam overwhelmingly; standing out like sore thumbs, and quite unapologetically so. The annoyance was obvious in the face of the locals, but understandably so. The driving and navigation was miserable and traffic didn't seem fun at that point. But we walked, our feet scuttling on the bumping sidewalks. 
I observed the amount of cheese houses, coffeeshops and souvenir shops that littered these allies, and the figured overwhelmed me. I watched tourists swarm between the three, experimenting excitedly with what their own countries' call and an illicit drug, and then savouring the beautiful flavours of skunky cheese to alleviate "the munchies", followed by souvenir shopping to fully encapsulate the entire experience. 
I smiled thinking of the few days they probably had to spend in Amsterdam. I smiled because I knew that this was simply the beginning of a 4 month journey in a city with more to offer than I could fathom. I smiled because I stumbled onto a playground I thought perfectly suitable for myself. I smiled, because a 5 month journey, in which I would be brimming in all these pleasantries and more, was about to begin. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Welkom Bij Amsterdam

There was a bustle, but it tickled the air subtly. The nippy air bit at my skin as the winter coat I had brought across waters attempted to do its job. I was unfazed. Having earlier been bathed in the Dutch rains as I attempted to find the building I was to call home for the next few months, the cold had already given me a rude welcoming to the Dutch lands.

I was in the bicycle capital of the world, yet somehow I was still surprised by how many bicycles littered the streets. Families were transported in these things. Children were diligently following their parents on them, or sometimes they'd be loosely left in a crate type of basket attached to the front…and as a result, few cars dressed the roads. It was very unlike the American way of life; definitely healthier for your body and your pocket.

Having flown in that day and then bombarded with information regarding banks and city councils, the obvious choice was to go home and get ready for bed once the orientation dinner was over. It was a pizza party. European pizza, though smaller, trumps American pizza by yards. None the less, I decided to go on a little adventure with a girl I had just met. Given that our cellphones were not yet set up as we might have liked, we had no GPS to aid with the navigation so we figured we’d do it ourselves. We were looking for a coffeeshop so it couldn't be all that difficult. We ought to have known better.

Before long, we found ourselves in an illuminated part of the city, where lights dressed trees and bridges; and before I knew it, the lavender that kissed my lips left me in a haze which amounted to excitement and paranoia. You can imagine the adrenaline rush.

What does Amsterdam have to offer so far? Sights for sore eyes: not limited to but including beautiful Graffiti, beautiful men and beautiful coffee shops.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

In Retrospect

One of my first memories of 2014 entails having a gun pointed at my face while being patted down for money, a phone, or really, whatever they could find. That cold day in Memphis, TN I was seated next to an individual who I had come to learn would be a lifelong friend. I knew this because our friendship had evolved and strengthened rather than faltered after months of fighting and then moving to different places for college. 
Next, a young girl in the little know-one-know-all community we'd created back home in Windhoek committed suicide. I didn't know her well, but I knew that that occurrence shook the earth under the feet of the teenagers who were close to her. I liked to call them the "BB's of our little community" because they were about  two to three years younger than me. I guess we're never too young to experience the tragedies of death and sadness.
A couple of weeks followed and then I got the news that my aunt had died. She was ill. No one had told me. I cried, and then I moved on. 
The year opened up as a mecca of misfortune and pain, and in all honesty, it is likely to end that way too. None the less, this is not a post about my sadness and the things that make me cry at night, it is an avenue for me to explore the positive experiences and greatest moments of my year. 
This year saw the majority of my growth, it saw me come into my maturity, and it encaptured the process of me becoming fully and unapologetically myself. 
2k14 blessed me with friends who loved me enough to entertain the idea of making a whole week out of my birthday. It introduced me to individuals I did not initially approach because of my bad habit of casting a judgement on a book based on its cover. I can only thank them for being the part of my life that entertained and joined in on my craziness. They have been my rock, helped save me from myself; and helped me understand what it means to live, to persevere and to know that a good outcome is always in the distance. 
The year blessed me with the courage and self-assurance to put myself forth to people rather than coup myself up in my own shell. It allowed for a spontaneous Facebook post about Spring break, that resulted in a spontaneous trip to Chicago; the city that I've come to adore and intend on spending a good portion of my life in. That led to a relationship developing between individuals who I know are my soul sisters and a "Tribe" I will forever belong to. These people helped me learn to be comfortable with myself, see the beauty in myself and keep my head up. Thank you for letting me know that when it comes to my feelings and emotions, it's ok to dive into the deep end and perhaps have abit of a hard time keeping my head above the water. The most important thing is that I keep trying to keep my head above the water, and with friends like you, swimming out to the shore for Corona's on the beach becomes easy to do. That Chicago trip taught me a lesson about putting myself out there, approaching people and capitalizing on my spontaneity. It taught me that there are people on the same wavelength as myself, and it brought me to them. 
The individuals I've met have taught me lessons on being a strong, independent and persevering woman and every day that I was surrounded by them was a new learning curve. They've opened my eyes up to the reality of what I am and what I experience and they've helped me learn how to harness my strength, despite how little it might be sometimes, and turn that into dynamite; a force to be reckoned with. 
A huge part of that dynamite also includes being able to let go of people's judgement of me or the ideas they conjure when they judge my cover before they've read my pages. This group of people have helped me learn to go forth as I am, and that those who matter will be around when they need to be. I never knew that I could be so certain that my one call from jail will never go unanswered despite where in the world I'm calling from, if that call is made to them.
It took me nineteen years to find a tribe of people that have undoubtedly made me feel like I was part of a truly loving, judgement free and supportive group of friends. So much so that each and every one of them have become family and interacted quite personally with my nuclear family despite meeting them via a computer screen while sitting in a dorm room 7 270 miles away. 
Between Illinois and Wisconsin for spring break; lake house shenanigans and Jewish frat party mishaps, and a 9mm gun pointed at my face in Tennessee, so many extraordinary memories have been made during this year. From high times in California to low times in New York; I wouldn't change a day in the face of 2k14. 
All I can do now is let go and let love. The next year will be one continued to be filled with growth, adventure and new journeys. I want to enter it with an open heart and the courage to realize that the inevitability of change is a matter that should no longer make me cry. I move forth, letting go of those whose paths have gone completely perpendicular of mine, and keeping close to my heart those who are on their paths and their journeys parallel to mine, separated only by a brief amount of distance. With energy being everything, I can only hope that mine is granted positivity and strength to carry me threw the tides of the new journey I am about to embark on, 
....and for you, I hope positivity, prosperity and genuine joy; even if it comes momentarily, even if it comes fleeting. Live your life to be entertained by even the smallest, most insignificant moments of joy as those are seemingly becoming more and more rare.