Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

I'm... wet.

Amazingly, I've been in Amsterdam for nearly five hours at this point, and no one has offered me anything more outrageous than... a discount hotel room. I don't think I'm disappointed, but I do wonder what happened to the glory days of the 1980s and early 1990s when a Surinamese heroin dealer was standing on nearly every corner. Instead, the city seems to be packed with families on vacation. Looking around the easyEverything I've parked myself at, it's largely well-dressed, clean-cut people checking in with their families. No one is wasted. I haven't smelled any marijuana yet. The wildest thing I smelled was a clove cigarette. It's almost unsettling how ordinary everything seems to be, but secretly I'm relieved. It's comfortable here - but I'm... wet. Yes, I'm perspiring slightly; there's a faint glow of perspiration on my brow, and I haven't been doing anything more strenuous than walking most of the way from my hotel back to Centraal Station. The temperature may be in the low 70s, but ah, it's the humidity, innit? I had quite forgotten about that. I suppose I'll have to break out the "European gentleman on holiday in Pago Pago" handkerchief that came in so handy in Singapore. Sadly, I can no longer afford the services of the Asian manservant who once walked just behind me with the fly whisk, but thanks to the new, improved, cleaner tourists in this town, that will no longer be necessary.

Right now, the big question on my mind is a fairly simple one: Now that I've quit my job and run off to Europe, I'm faced with three largely empty months worth of time. What do I do? Having been largely underutilized while I was at Netscape, it's been ages since I've worked hard at anything, and the prospect of so much free time is actually quite terrifying. I don't think I want to "have fun"; I'd rather do something... I'm just not sure what exactly that something should be. Yes, I've started writing (longhand, ooooh) in a chapbook of sorts, but how to actually come up with something that I can sell, publish, profit by? I find it frustrating not having a laptop computer, although I am loth to admit it; I don't write well with ballpoint or any other kind of pen, and the physicality of the process is an obstacle. It's not romantic, and the ink blotches on my hands are not signifiers of a romantic temper, but rather of a lack of fine motor control. It's not quite working yet.

The afternoon is wearing on and I'm starting to feel hungry, which is a welcome change from the low-level feeling of having done the wrong thing that's been plaguing me all afternoon. Now that I'm here, I feel as if I shouldn't have left, but of course any small feelings of doubt or second thoughts are amplified by my body's general panic at being schlepped across nine time zones and dumped in a completely new environment without the benefit of friends or family to make it more comfortable. It's going to take some time before I can be more sure that I made the right decision.

The most difficult thing for me is that I've been to Amsterdam before, the most recent time with both Dan and my family. It's hard to walk through the flower market without remembering Dan helping my Mom choose the right tulip bulbs for her flower boxes, and it only makes me sad to revisit places where only eight months ago, I was having a wonderful time, but where now, it's only uncomfortably silent. It's clear now that it isn't the places I was hoping to return to, but more likely the experiences I had there with my friends and my family. It's been nearly nine years since last I travelled on my own, and it's very different - this next week, I probably won't actually speak to anyone other than shop attendants, and that's a abrupt shift from the pleasure I've had, spending at least an hour every day with good friends over lunch, and much more time than that with Dan.

I'll be in London next week with my family, so hopefully that'll get me my social fix in preparation for the huge uncertainty of travelling in the Caucausus on my own. We will see.

Now, I'm off to the supermarket. I'm hungry. Wonder what kind of sandwiches they have...

  • It's July 2013.

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