The thought of a plane awaiting her at the runway loomed over her as our final month had commenced. Sudden combustions would ignite her mind and cause her eyes to bawl tears of sadness with the passing of days. Her eyes plead and begged for her, as they expressed melancholy and simultaneously anguish for the long and tiresome flight taking her away from the Promised Land to sit forlorn staring out of the small window and weep as paradise sadly, for the two of us, comes with closing hours. As I had once sung during her gloomy days of dysphoria: “I’ve got two tickets to paradise”; duo tickets turned out ridiculously optimistic. With regulations and visa’s keeping us captive from being with one another, we required an entire box of entree tickets. To tease and perhaps with genuine intent I suggested hopping the fence or digging a tunnel. But when one returns to reality, how does one hop a fence from the Philippines to the Netherlands and in such a way she can still return? Releasing herself from my grip, she snivelled once more before wiping away the wetness from her cheeks reddened by the Dutch cold.
I bemoaned the whole ordeal too, however the rainy days remained rather intern. Only days after the take-off of the plane I’d lose my sanity attempting a panicky depart like a rat in a lion’s cage that is on fire. However, the exit-strategy, nor the doleful distance that was an onset imminent is not today’s story. We had found solace in my abundance in free days which was the genesis of a trip to what every tourist considers to be the Netherlands; Amsterdam! To me it’s known as a city compulsory to pass by when bound for the airport, others viewed it crucial for a visit, though these are interchangeably drunkards partying in Amsterdam with only remembrance a hazy state and those that admired the awing parts of the capital whilst oblivious to there being anything within the dot of a country besides it. But besides passing by and waving, the city already had given me some memories before the arrival of our train.
One was a young boy staring into the daunting eyes of a police officer seated on his tall horse preparing for battle and a bloodthirsty hound with darting eyes held by his fellow soldier on foot. The kid in me got filled with excitement and I stepped forward as my father and stepbrother bounced back. I peeked passed the horsed men and saw a tank of water rolling by shifting its gun towards the congregated hooligans spewing words of fury and nastiness ready to destruct, cause havoc and if possible beat the man responsible for this uproar to a pulp. They were out for blood and the men in blue stood ready to fight the chaos brought on to the calm square. A square which ought to have been one of serenity for another hour as all the shouting and spilling of beers should have been inside the arena whilst men and women enjoyed a game. That remained until a man of low intellect had attempted to plant his flying foot into that of the goalkeeper’s neck, failed and received a pounding in return with a result of a red card for the goalie. What followed was a team protesting, a crowd howling and roaring and taking their anger forcibly outside in hopes of finding the arrested wrong-doer and showing their maliciousness to the town’s property. At last, my father’s words had reached me and I turned my eyes from the chaos to walk beside them as we retreated the battle ground.
A second had been waving my sister off on her brave endeavours to the great Canada. With my little brother, mother and stepfather we wandered into town in weak attempt to broaden our world. Though this story revolves around young me finding a longed for KFC to have my first ever indulgence in their chicken coming from small towns previously lacking such extravagant chains, it is one bearing value for me as it was one of the few I have of the man that charmed my mother’s heart before he tragically ended his life. Full of character and spirit he had often gone out of his way to please us. Mention an interest or liking, and the weekend to follow he is smoking up the kitchen with a spicy marinade to douse the spareribs during an hours-long recipe. And thus, we skipped through the busy streets to find me my chicken and then we munched them away on the steps of a fountain.
Those where all my memories and I was keen to extend the list, by meandering the streets and alleys with red ears tipped with lewd excitement, or face painful history within the tiny hide-out of a well-known girl carrying naught but a diary, but also take a walk in the park and imagine the life my father and grandmother and so on had in this bustling city. Though indeed, Netherlands has far more to offer than this capital of coffee-shops, red light district and drunkards, a trip to this world of imaginations is one to be unforgettable. Architecture, though far from the view visitors wish to gaze at, remains beautiful. Canals, though familiar throughout the country, remain picturesque. But there is also an ambience to a place no longer hiding behind pretty words and throwing away its prudeness as signs no longer leave a subtlety with “gentleman’s club”. No, buildings shout “SEX” as red lights paint the streets, shops endorsing and displaying toys large and larger and museums shamelessly depict a history of sex and rock & roll and drugs not minding the nudity coming with it. I find it fascinating when men push a young boy with loud cheers into a door where he will begin his journey to manhood whereas it usually is an activity meant to be hidden away.
But please, for the sake of the Netherlands, when in this wonderful country, leave the capital in search for towns nearby. Take a tour to the Zaanse Schans, quickly visit the Hague or Rotterdam and buy all the cheese you can at Gouda before heading North. There are too many towns that have their own little allurement and are worthy of a visit from the ogling folks. But, so is Amsterdam.