September 25, 2006

gezellig!

This is the word of my life.  The catchphrase of the day.  The motivating factor.  The word that makes me sigh with wistfulness. It’s a Dutch word, the word they use to describe that feeling, that way of life they have.  The coziness, the peacefulness.  All that I love about Dutch.  It doesn’t really translate to English.  That’s my word.

I went to Amsterdam this weekend, from Friday to Sunday.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’d know that this was my 4th trip, and that I have a special connection to Holland.  It’s my dream – I want to live there more than anything else I want in life.  When I’m there, I feel peaceful.  I feel dreamy and happy and, “this is how life should be.”   When I leave, I cry or at least come close to it – no exaggeration.  It pains me to fly away, every time.

The last night there, Saturday, as I briefly sat alone on the outside terrace at the hotel, drinking a glass of wine, I struck up a friendship with my waiter – an adorable, hazel-eyed Dutchman of 23 years old.

“What’s that word?” I asked, “… that special Dutch word that doesn’t translate to English, the word you use to describe the atmosphere here?  That magical word?”

I stumped him.  “I know what you mean… let me think,” he said.  He left with my drink request and came back, “Gezelig!  That’s the word.”

I passed him a pen and my book and asked him to write it down for me.  It was the word of the evening, as I hung out drinking and getting stoned with the hotel restaurant staff, and everyone asked me what it was about Amsterdam, why I loved it so much.

“GEZELIG!” I cried, gleefully, every time.

In hysterics over everything we said that was only funny because of the joint being passed around, I held up the joint in the air and said, “This – is this considered Gezelig?” I asked.

My new Dutch friends laughed and shouted back at me, “GEZELIG!”  And my original waiter leaned over, conspiratorially, and told me that he would make some calls, see if he could help me find work there… see if he could help me achieve gezelig.

Unfortunately, I had very little chance to bask in gezelig during this trip.  In fact, I’m pained and shocked that you will EVER hear me say this about a trip to Amsterdam: It sucked.  It sucked like you wouldn’t believe.  I’ve never been so miserable on a trip.

I went with a friend, a female friend – and I was excited, I thought, to be doing a chick trip.  It was her first time, and my 4th.  I envisioned drinking at cafes, talking boys & toys.  Giggles and mild flirtation.  A night out dancing.

Snort.

I should have known better.

This friend that I went with, V, I’ve known for a couple years now.  When I first met her, I hated her.  She annoyed the hell out of me.  But over the years, she’s proven herself to be a loyal and dependable person.  She’s done many favors for me and been the first to answer all my calls for help.  So I thought, ok.  I can do this.  I can put up with her constant talking because I will keep in mind what a great friend she is, and that her heart is in the right place.

Snort.

I question the position of her heart right now.  And I’ve shamefully been throwing around words like “airhead,” “inconsiderate bitch,” “non-intellectual,” “twat,” and “not very bright,” since getting back to Prague yesterday, late afternoon.
Let me start at the beginning.

We were leaving Friday morning, at 7 am.  So I went to her place on Thursday night to sleep over – her creepy, rich, old, American boyfriend would drive us to the airport.  The flight was at 7.  We were getting up at 4 to leave by 5 to get to to the airport by 5:30.

I got there at 9pm.  V had just started packing.  For 2.5 days.  A hug bage of toiletries (I took the bare minimum and planned to rely on hotel shampoo).  And as I sat there on her couch, wishing for sleep, she ran around the flat for 2 hours crying about what to take and wear.  I watched the pile grow.  “V,” I said, “We’re only going for TWO DAYS.”  She showed me a list of places she had to go.  I shrugged it off – a list of stores, including Dior and Diesel, to see.  Sigh.

Finally, around 11pm, she settled down and went to bed.  I had a sense of foreboding.  I felt guilty going to Amsterdam without Ezra.  I wanted to back out.  It was too late.  At 4 am, her phone alarm – which she chose to set and leave in the LIVING ROOM where I was sleeping, and not in her own bedroom, went off.  I lay there listening until it stopped and realized she hadn’t heard it.  I thought… maybe… maybe they won’t wake up and we’ll miss the flight…

No, I know. I know what you’re thinking. But I’ve BEEN to Amsterdam, for starters. And when you hear about the rest of the trip, you’ll agree, it was a premonition on my part.

So we were up, at 4 am.  It was early.  She came out all chatter and bubbly.  I’m not a happy camper in the morning.  I don’t like chatter.  But I grinned and bore it.  No big deal.

We arrive in Amsterdam.  The nonstop talking begins.  I dont mean like… benign, nonstop chatter that you can ignore or put up with. I mean like EVERY SECOND OF EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY HOUR AND NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO IT WON’T STOP.  Even after you explode about how you need quiet and the two of you are very different and please just be quieter. Still, it won’t stop.

So it started.  The chatter.  I was gritting my teeth.  And the thing about V is… well, she’s no the brightest bulb in the box.  It’s a bit like listening to a child sometimes.

Once at the hotel, we dropped off our stuff and sat down to eat a quick snack at the hotel.  She… she’s Czech, not American.  And as someone pointed out to me later, she’s hard to understand.  And she has this shrieky way of talking, where she just leans into your space and launches in to whatever she wants to say, never really getting your attention first or speaking slowly or anything.  Just, in your face and SHRIEK SHRIEK SHRIEK! (No, I’ve said this about her even when she was on my good side.  It’s just how she is.  Old women on the trams have grabbed her and asked if she was deaf, because she talked so loudly.)

So there was small confusion with the waiter, who I immediately saw had a hard time understand.  He and I chuckled over a small private joke – a miscommunication between he & I that V hadn’t heard, so of course, at the tail end of it she jumps in babbling about what she thought she heard, asking questions, leaving the waiter blinking at her in confusion.  I smiled at him and shook my head in that, “don’t worry about it,” kind of way and told her to just never mind, moment over.

Oh, wait – I forgot The Jacket.

She left her jacket on the plane. Which resulted in fits of tears, and running all over the aiport for 2 hours before even getting outside into the city, and constant comments about how, “Brucie will be so mad… Oh, I wish Brucie were here to take care of me… Brucie Brucie Brucie.”  (That’s the boyfriend, if you didn’t notice.) I hope these comments speak for themselves without my having to explain why they were so irritating.

The jacket was an ongoing drama.

Sigh.

Anyway. That’s not even the tip of the iceberg. You don’t even know the iceberg is there yet.  But I’m getting sick, thanks to my boozing up and getting stoned in order to get a break from dealing with her.  So you’ll just have to wait for the rest of it.  Along with all my comments on Amsterdam.  Sigh.

Did I mention how my heart breaks a little every time I go?

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