dear Amsterdam, It was wonderful to visit you after such a long time. I think I might have fallen in love with you again and this time I think it is permanent. You are still the same, but I changed.
Just like eight years ago, the time I visited you for the first time, I experienced all the things that you are supposed to experience when one has a date with you. And god had I forgotten how intense you make one feel. It is not the drugs, it is not the prostitutes, it not the gay cinemas, it is none of that.
I guess it is just the way you are, my Amsterdam.
The kindness you offer to every single person who goes on a date with you.
When I exited the Central Station for the first time I witnessed the billboard that warned about white heroin that was sold as cocaine in your streets. My mother, my brother who is ten and my cousin who is not much older wondered what kind of a place I was going to show them, but my first reaction to the sign was only in Amsterdam and smiled. I know it is a serious issue, but I bet even you cannot imagine Paris or Johannesburg or Beijing addressing the issue of drugs the way you.
You have problems just like all the other cities in the world, but you have a unique way to approach the issues you face. You do not judge nor you penalise people for their desires no matter how out of order they might be as long as the actions do not harm other being, human or non-human. You tender every single soul as if they all mattered to you to the end of the world. You care because a life, no matter what kind of or what colour, matters and compassion applies to everything and everyone. You love like no one else, firmly and unconditionally and perhaps even disproportionately.
Loving someone tends to require feedback.
But not you, Amsterdam. You embrace everyone and everything without anything in return.
I remember falling madly in love with you when I visited you the first time, but I was disappointed. In spite of everything I felt you were withdrawn and did not let me in with all the secrets you kept in your dungeons and canals. I denied my love for you, although walking your streets that time was the very first experience of love I had ever had. I fought against it a long time, but eventually I gave in and admitted that I loved you despite you not recuperating the same feelings towards me or so I thought. I was young. I knew very little about life at the time, my darling.
Last two weeks I walked the same streets again. The ones I did when I was seventeen, when I lived next to you and showed them to my friends who had the resources to visit while I studied in the Hague, those pavements are as familiar as the ones from my childhood in Helsinki, but it all felt different this time.
You know the stories about two people who are meant to be but meet at the wrong time? Well, it is something like that. I am not claiming that we were two lovers who met at the wrong moment, but perhaps sort of to that direction… I guess you have always loved me and so have I, but there have been complications beyond our control.
I have always liked you. So much, you would not believe it but I had issues, I was reluctant and I had fallen in love with a man whom you met. He was not very fond of you, and at the time neither was I.
But now it was endearing to be with you, Amsterdam. The world looks very different when I look at her with you. I do not know if she is more beautiful, I do not think so but something happens to the world when I spend a day with you. The feeling is extraordinary, honey.
I would visit a bookstore and the whole universe would go upside down. Browsing titles like A Little History of Philosophy or The Art of Thinking Clearly would make my mind crazy and there would be an instant need to satisfy those cravings by buying the books and reading them on my way back to my family who reside in Amstelveen. I am not quite confident what happens to me when you show me how you live. It is this strange feeling, well, sort of freedom. To be whatever you are without sensing an external judgement. I am liberated with you.
I have seen children walking the streets, I have seen elderly couple holding hands, I have seen a pair of friends enjoying a jar of nutella with their bare fingers, people smoke their rolled joints in the main square, there are grand art exhibitions, food all over, men kissing each other, Brazilians and Mongolians, just everything.
You are crazy, Amsterdam, you really are. I have not experienced a city like that you. You will not be arrested for using drugs in Amsterdam.
No, it is not just the drugs.
Well ok, partly.
Perhaps the drugs, that red light district, the freedom to love and other things have shaped how we look at you but there is some much more in you that it drives me insane. Perhaps because I am jealous of you. I do not understand how you can love so profoundly without needing anything in return? I know you have plenty of lovers, including me, who worship you to the end of the world but the entire point is that you could continue loving us even if we suddenly rejected you. Like I did when I moved to the Netherlands. And it did not change your feelings about me.
You are truly one of a kind, darling. You are fearless, because know what makes you happy and you pursue like no other city in the world. And the pursuit involves making all your dates the happiest people ever, because a sight of the most innocent and inhibited smile is the best experience you could ever imagine.
you are special.
Admittedly I freaked out a bit when I moved to the Hague and realised it was not a show you had for tourists, but you actually accommodated every single need anyone could ever have or very least, make your best to do so. You reminded me of… well, something of that I hoped I would had been at the time when I still him. I have changed and improved a bit since I left the Netherlands, but I am still the same kid who fell madly in love with you when we first me… the kid with the same insecurities.
But you do not judge me. You could have, but you are not bothered about the things that I worry about myself every single morning I wake up. Relentlessly you showed me a world where we all could belong to, a place where differences enriches us and adds to who we are rather than separates. Beaming life, shining happiness, glowing smiles, humanity at its best.
I miss you very much, Amsterdam.
I look forward to seeing you again soon. Thank you for everything.