They tell you this city is good to everyone

you can see art in cramped museum halls or

all around you if you look hard enough,

you can order royales with cheese to bridge your

Samuel L. Jackson fantasies into reality,

you can be frightened by rude souvenir store

cashiers who wish you spoke another language or

excited by the prospects of adulthood in

the city of pragmatism and freedom by

climbing far into space anytime of the day, rain

or shine, above those watery ceilings

you knew existed but never thought were really real,

you can stay at those cozy local hostels where

thin stair


rise into the

air and

they greet you with familiar toothless smiles and

everyone leans to the side a little bit

like the tower of Pisa on a bad day because

the buildings have started to

sink in-

-to the


like a swamp swallowing its trees,

you can gain night vision by staring skyward

on hazy Saturday afternoons in Vondelpark,

you can forget everything you left behind and

become connected to a less tragic and debilitating


fueled by anonymity,

they say adulthood is real and this is it

I never stayed up past midnight when I was twelve,

I run up the canal to

where the disco lights bounce off my eyes and

I’ve never seen so much crimson altogether,

you can live here, everyone lives here at least once

no exceptions


Here the dream is made, as if visiting

the safest but most dangerous and dastardly-looking basements

completes the young escapist’s journey, nineteen years long,

they’re like medieval dungeons but

without the death traps and

underneath bouncing nightclubs that

play the most obscure German electro music and

the occasional jazz tune to lighten the mood again,

settle any rising tension and help you return to the

cool, clean, inner sanctuary of sensory overload and



it’s two in the morning

but the city is as bright as it was at noon

I can hear the music distantly from upstairs

while the most polite strangers in the world

offer their happiness and shared solitude

but I’m already spent

I can feel the floor suddenly shaking

the seat rocking there and from

the music getting lower and lower

the beat disappearing

I think I’m being chased by the one-eyed

man who looked like my dad and

threatened me by the pizzeria earlier

so I say


to no-one in particular

and run, like my life depends on it

my childhood skin slowly peeling away

from the sheer speed and adrenaline

of a life-or-death pursuit through dusky streets and dusky canals

until I reach the last train out of Amsterdam Centraal

and it’s in that moment I realize

I’m sinking and smiling, too


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