Chapter Thirteen: 1994 ~~ Is This All There Is?
‘The world outside of me is created by me—not the trees, not the clouds, the bees, and the beauty of the landscape—but human existence in relationship, which is called society, that is created by you and me. So the world is me and I am the world… That is the first thing that must be established: not as an intellectual or an abstract fact, but an actual feeling, in actual realisation. This is a fact, not a supposition, not as an intellectual concept, but it is a fact that the world is me and I am the world. The world being the society in which I live, with its culture, morality, inequality, all the chaos that is going on in society, that is myself in action. And the culture is what I have created and what I am caught in. I think that is an irrevocable and an absolute fact’ ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
At midday on the first day of a brand new year, we finally woke still feeling buzzy from the exceptional night. Famished too, so we headed over to Marco Polo’s for the greatest feed of pasta and pizza ever! After indulging in a tasty, creamy pasta each and a slice of pizza, we came home overly satisfied, and slept again until 9pm-ish, when we got up to get ready to go to another RADICAL REHOUSING PARTY at Herengracht!
Arriving at 12.30 am, we sat at the bar drinking for a while (not much—too expensive) and smoking J’s. The party played spacy, ambiant nearly impossible-to-dance-to house music; so, we sat and watched interesting and funny people dancing instead. The funniest were two hippy-looking guys with long blonde hair, from Helsinki we soon discovered, and they seemed to be totally in love and very ‘out-of-it’. I couldn’t stop smiling at the prettiest one with feminine features, so he came over when he saw me and struck up a very long conversation. He was a physics student and we chatted excitedly about learning new things! His passionate zest poured over me as he spoke, and I realised he wasn’t so much high on drugs, but high on life, estastic on love.
Following this vibrant energy exchange and bidding farewell, Julie, Cory and I found some seats by the dancefloor with our English friends from Images, and soon got up to dance, but only managed a few because of the spacy music. It didn’t matter; we still enjoyed sitting, listening, watching, and we felt very good, having a little bit of substance left over from the night before! We met a few people, and I met a guy named Anthony from Amsterdam who was half Indonesian, half Dutch. He was very sweet and a great, fun dancer—as if from our dance party days, and we had a few dances despite the music with Cory looking on with a smile on his face!
After a very good night overall, we left around 4.30 am to go home, have some smokes and fall to sleep. It was beautiful walking the streets of Amsterdam at that time of the morning, so peaceful and pretty, mystically special with its many canals, bridges, and character homes quiet at dawn. Another world entirely!
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During the week, we finally visited the Hash and Marijuana Museum, which was a definite must (at least for Cory) before we left Amsterdam. Detailing 8000 years of history, the museum revealed the many uses of cannabis and hemp, including the production of paper and textiles, as well as its medicinal benefits, and suggested that scientists would continue to discover further potential for its use. It also showed how hemp had evolved to become one of the world’s most renewable resources. I loved seeing positive reports about pot and its many, many uses (approximately 10,000), although felt angered that the world had not got its act together and legalised the obviously helpful, little plant!
Before leaving for the museum that morning, we contacted Dad having not spoken to him for days! It was great hearing his voice and very comforting. The money, though, had been delayed again until Wednesday: Hope morning, Dad afternoon. Apparently, this was final! During the conversation, Dad asked us to wait until Wednesday in order to travel to France from Amsterdam. I prayed for it to happen, and my French visa was ready to go having had it arranged in Sydney before we left! Dad’s optimism about the money made us more confident, and even if it still didn’t come through we comforted ourselves with the hypothesis that if Julie had to fly home on Monday 10, she would be able to come back and meet us in springtime when we could start our real holiday in lovely, WARM, friendly weather.
In the meantime of waiting, we spent most of Tuesday perusing through the Van Gogh Museum, having decided to spend our money wisely and do our brains a favour. Looking over his edgy material throughout the huge museum, it was hard to detect any hints from his work suggesting that he was a very bizarre artist with the potential to cut off his ear and send it to his girlfriend because she wouldn’t listen to him! Not surprisingly, he had only a short life: 1853-1890, but in that time he managed to paint a wide variety of hundreds of very appealing works.
FEELING A LITTLE MORE CULTURED in Amsterdam now, we rang Dad to see when we would be leaving because the time had arrived for Julie to get back to London for her flight! Our MasterCard situation had made it impossible for us to consider leaving on our volition, because once again, we had managed to go UNDER! I informed Dad about the state of affairs, and under much stress, he said he would do his best to get enough money for us to return to London, as well as pay the amount owing on our rooms. So we believed that somehow, Dad would manifest it, our poor, amazing Daddy! He also said that the money had been moved to the following Tuesday! The day after Julie was scheduled to depart and we surmised that it would probably happen then. We ALL hoped it would, Julie didn’t mind, as long as it did come through, and she would be able to pop back over, straight away! Then it would be off to London’s Heaven nightclub for us!
As we had no money, Don, the saviour manager of our old hotel, gave us another cash advance! We gratefully ate a delicious breakfast/brunch at a gay boy’s restaurant we had recently found, called The Mediterranean, and returned to our rooms for a day of cards to avoid spending any fl!
By Thursday, Dad had flushed up my MasterCard enough for us to book our return bus/ferry/bus ride to England, repay Don, and spend the last few precious hours enjoying our final day in Amsterdam. Suddenly we were all sentimental, realising how much we loved it there, and didn’t want to leave. Accepting that all good things must end, we lifted our spirits, and ate our final breakfast at Images. Then we enjoyed a smoke in the Greenhouse Effect sitting at our favourite window seat, playing cards, and simply absorbing the environment, taking in the sights, and waving at the occasional police officer as he left the station almost directly across the road. We loved the freedom of choice and respect given to people in Amsterdam.
Soon we were joined by our newfound friends, and a friendly English-Jamaican guy, who came in because we smiled at him from the window! He was a sweetie and even bought us a drink—we had assumed he was going to try to sell us drugs…‘Hashish, coke, ecstasy for the ladies etc’ (we’d heard from others many times). We videoed the inside of The Greenhouse and its fabulous marijuana menu for a memoir, and then visited Hill Street Blues for one last drink, videoing there too! It was sad, finally leaving and saying goodbye to people we’d seen everyday…The Guilder man, The Happy Man at the café (always smiling, the one who gave us a free banana each one day), Café 36 staff, Greenhouse staff, etc, etc too!
Yes, we knew we would miss Amsterdam and the Amsterdammers. It was bizarre walking towards Centraal Station with our backpacks, leaving our near two-month home, a home as colourful as it had been unusual. Our experience was also colourful and unusual; sad as well as happy; sane as well as crazy; satisfied and unfulfilled. We had experienced the entire spectrum of emotions, and came out the other side, somewhat more mature, cultured, except still in the same financial boat.
My last impression of Amsterdam, as we stepped inside the station, was of a hip, old-worldly town, initially impenetrable by the communication barrier and the cold, but waiting, bursting for social connection with the rest of the world… even if it remained untouchable with its exclusivity, because it was just so charming and culturally and morally advanced!
The train and bus ride to meet the ferry to cross the channel seemed quicker than our journey in. At the ferry turnstile, we met a couple named Linda and Michael and enjoyed their company on the ferry, promising to meet up in London the next day. Even though it was still the midst of winter, England’s weather seemed akin to a welcoming, warm bath when we landed, compared to the flatlands of Belgium and the Netherlands.
In the dark before dawn, the bus ride ended at Victoria station where our long journey had begun. We caught a tube to Notting Hill Gate, and trudged with our backpacks to our hostel—Bowen Court. Although we had never expected to return, our pre-booked room in the large, old building was welcoming. Exhausted: sleep quickly took us away. We were home again in England.
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Throughout the next 19 pages of this chapter:
Julie returns to Australia.
Two great homes and permanent employment eventually found despite dodgy hiccups.
Cory shatters our world with a sexual misdemeanour that causes ‘the promise’ to be made that alters our course indelibly.
Events at the London Pride (gay march and after party akin to the Sydney Mardi Gras), change my life forever…
Holiday driving around the south of Ireland – Cory’s birthplace and banks don’t compute with London = money dilemma again…
Red convertible through the west coast of America and robbery in Las Vegas.
Home to sunny Sydney where life will never be the same.