Recharging in Amsterdam

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Our friend Gordon in Austin says he likes being around Charles & I due to the energy he gets from the two of us, and after this weekend, I understand him on a level that I hadn't before.

This weekend I spent with Jan & Timon was terrific, not because of the mild weather, or the time spent out and about on the town, or for that matter anything really tangible in any way. What made this a great weekend was being included in their community of friends. I feel warm and energized, and while we did some pretty cool things around town, what's prominent on my mind is a couple of hours of quiet breakfasts and coffee while watching boats go by on the Amstel. There are certainly times when I don't fit quite into the rhythm of life over here both at work and on a personal level, but if this weekend was one of those times, they did a good job of concealing that fact.

The sun continued to shine on Saturday, and while Sunday was cloudy, it didn't rain. As a result some of the things we did were outdoors, Jan fired up the boat 'Ayor' and the three of us did a small cruise across the Ij and along the Prinzengracht. Sunday, along with Fritz & Henk, the 5 of us went walking around their neighborhood of the Amstel, into the horticultural gardens, and on to see a display of the improvements being done to the Centraal Station. Saturday as well I got on a bike and pedalled around to a couple corners of town I hadn't been to in 2 years. Its a centuries-old city, so of course not much has changed: some of the same half-sunk boats were in the same canals, the owner of my favorite turkish restaurant is still behind the bar waving if you nod your head his way, and the Splash gym still has hordes of muscle-Marys talking about one another on the canal in front of it. I spent an hour talking with my favorite art glass salesman as well. I think its pretty comforting all told.

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Sunday afternoon & evening absolutely rocked. It was the "Amsterdam Stetson's Gay Western Saloon" at a venue close to the University of Amsterdam, and I really had a blast. There are some photos and a couple of cool movies in the gallery here. They do mostly line dancing, and even the 2 step that they do, they have a coordinated set of moves that couples would go through, but it was terrific fun doing a couple of barn dances with them and even watching some of the other dances. I bought a couple rounds of beers, others bought a couple rounds, and it was great fun to be included. Jan rounded up a gang of 10 afterwards and we went to eat Spanish food not far from the red light district: meal was terrific (paelella, flan, beer), the companionship was flirtatious and fun, and our table was complemented by a few other patrons on our singing ability. (Okay, a couple other tables cleared out, but they were probably finished anyway!) Jan & his crew have a propensity to make up new lyrics to traditional songs to both honor & tease each other at major birthdays, and some of their latest greatest moments were relived over the flan.

Linguistically, I felt good about the trip - I could hear the words well and understood most of the vocabulary in the day-to-day, and only a few times did I have to ask for someone to repeat something they asked me slowly. I was a bit timid for whatever reason, so didn't make many attempts to speak in dutch, though I could have probably done a few minor things like order a taxi. Next trip I'll do a little bit more as well.

It wasn't quite going home, but it felt really good to be there, and it felt really good to be welcome. I'm grateful to have the chance to be close to people that can help me recharge and reconnect with what's important.

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This page contains a single entry by David published on November 1, 2004 8:56 AM.

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