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DAY 5: Fourth Day in Amsterdam


I wandered again. No museums or specific places that I wanted to visit today. I awaited nightfall, really. Killed time. Walked aimlessly. Scribbled thoughts in my journal. Absorb more of Amsterdam before I depart her.

It’s 10:15PM. The sun still hasn’t set. I'm sitting alone in Vondelpark against a tree writing this. There’s a young couple across the canal kissing and tickling each other. Groups of people together in the grass, smoking. Drinking. Blasting pop music and dancing. I’ve grown quite fond of Vondelpark.

I ventured into the night this time. My first time running around Amsterdam past 11. I wanted to see what the red-light district became in the dark. Black, white, asian— whatever your type, you’ll find it in the red-light district. She’ll be standing on the other side of a glass door. Probably in a neon thong. Smiling at you. Tapping the glass. Calling you over to her. Some of the girls seemed eager and sexy, like they weren’t having a terrible time being gawked at in a human display case. Others looked miserable and disinterested.

Each individual door had a single red fluorescent tube overtop, which was the signal. I was walking down the alley and there was this quaint old man with a beige suit and briefcase trailing close behind me. We walked by one particular tattooed brunette in green neon. Her and I made eye contact briefly. She smiled at me. I smiled back and continued forward. When I glanced over my shoulder, however, the old man was no longer close behind; He was talking to the neon green girl and within seconds, vanishing inside of her domain.

She carried the same light in her eyes, the same interest she had in me, over to the old man... They smile at you. Make you feel special. But in reality, it’s no different than a car salesman pushing you to buy their automobile or a telemarketer trying to get your credit card information. You are a dollar sign. To these women, you become prey when they’re behind that glass.

They need to live. Like every job, you do it to survive. These girls are extremely proficient at faking it. When I saw the look in her eyes and the smile on her face and the way she carried herself… It didn’t matter that the man was in his 60s or 70s; He’s giving her business and that will put food on the table. That's definitely something to smile about. 27, or 67, you’re not special. You’re meat to these women. I can’t imagine these girls pulling off this job any other way outside of being absolutely detached from reality on a constant basis.

I stopped at a bar. Met someone random in the smoke room. His name was Nick. He was from Fullerton, CA. Born and raised there. He was visiting Amsterdam, among other places, with his father and brother. He looked extremely young and he was alone so I assumed he was in a similar situation to myself: single and wandering. But he was actually a married man and an expecting father. He and his wife have a baby boy on the way. We continued to chat about Amsterdam and what we thought of it, but nothing you haven’t already read in this blog by now.

Nick appeared to have been deeply affected by his joint so he quieted down and the conversation died. We watched a pool match unfold in the middle of the smoke room instead. Every player was heavily intoxicated. One of them would hit whatever ball he wanted, like the solid 3 to hit the striped 14, while the other players would play a proper game around his nonsense. All the more hysterical because the player didn’t seem to be in on the joke; He genuinely thought he was doing some good. It was as if his antics were part of the rules for the other players. Nick and I joked and laughed hysterically throughout the match and then parted ways. To be honest, he looked as though he wasn’t expecting such a potent joint and appeared wigged out.

By this point, I’d been on my feet for more than 12 hours roaming around Amsterdam and was ready to go home. I think it was about 2a before I decided to start heading back. My visual memory was put to the test. I couldn’t remember what the name of the stop was that I typically got off at. Not only that but both the 51 and the 5, the two main trains I take back to home base, were shut down until the morning.

It was about 3am by the time I got off the bus. I thought I’d gone too far… I found myself at a stop called Zonnestein. It was pitch dark and deserted. Not a soul in sight. And I didn’t recognize any of the surrounding area. I’d only seen this area during the day so I was officially lost. I walked to the nearest map and studied the stops. My instincts kept telling me to move forward, in the same direction I’d been heading in.

At this point there wouldn’t be another bus passing through for at least an hour so I decided to keep moving. Jogged for a bit. Then found myself at another bus stop. I still didn’t recognize the name. But I did recognize something specific… My stop has a red and white striped piece of tape where a window use to be and that was my saving grace. I knew exactly where I was now.

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