I sat in the lobby of Eden Hotel in Rembrandt Square, waiting patiently for B and N to walk through the rotating doors.
It had been a long trip from Berlin, made longer by the fact that I was so excited to meet up with two of my best friends in the entire world. In Amsterdam.
I had been looking forward to May 8 for more than a month. It was in Madrid when I received a message from N informing me she and her husband were in fact going to holiday in Amsterdam, celebrating her 30th birthday and their five-year wedding anniversary. I changed my entire route in order to meet up with them, naturally.
After all, B and N knew me from a very different time in my life. It was during the T years they had met me, when I was always sad. Moving into Dulaney Valley was one of the best decisions of my life because it introduced me to them … a couple who were around my age and lived (get this) across the hall from me.
On days and nights when I felt the world falling down around me, when I could barely get myself out of bed, let alone muster a smile, I would crawl across the hall to their door, be let in and instantly feel better. There were so many times I would just be in the room with them, head buried in my hands, sobbing because of the person I had become and mourning the loss of my happiness. They would comfort me. They would tell me everything would be OK.
In a time when I lost so many friends because of the wreck of a person I was, they always stood by me, offering hugs, support, a shoulder to cry on. In the past 10 years of my life, they are two of the only people who have remained a constant. And for that, I am eternally thankful.
I am not a big fan of Amsterdam. The last time I was there I had to kindly escort myself out of the city. I had consumed one space cake too many and thought I was going to have to check myself into the hospital (ahhh … paranoia).
When a group of backpackers and I sat in Bulldog my last night that chilly February 2002, they passed around the fattest spliff I had ever seen, and all I could do was sit there, idly stirring my hot chocolate, thinking I was going to pass out. A little later, I excused myself and headed back to Flying Pig Hostel, to my massive (and I mean massive) dorm room, and climbed up the rickety ladder to my bed, still needing to put the sheets on. I looked down as I dumped the pillow into its case and saw it was covered in blood. Yup, I was done.
I had never looked forward to an early morning train more than I had looked forward to the one that would whisk me out of Amsterdam and down to Paris.
I was giving the city another chance, hoping that eight years later being older and wiser could help shift things in my favor.
It took me by complete surprise when B and N walked through the doors and tears started to flow from my eyes.
Tears. What the hell?
Suddenly, and ridiculously unexpectedly, I was overcome with emotion.
These two people were such a big part of my life for so long and here I am, and here they are … and wow.
“It is so good to see you,” I whispered into their heads as we hugged.
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I tried to convey what I was feeling to them … after two months of traveling and meeting new friends and experiencing so much, being with them felt like home. It made the rainy Amsterdam night so warm and bright. And made me wonder how the hell I would react during all of my reunions when I finally arrived back to America.
We dropped my bags off in their room, when N informed me we would all be sleeping in one bed.
“It said two beds,” she explained, “but it is two double beds. Next to each other.”
Of course. European-style.
“Oh my goodness,” I said. “Do you want me to check into a hostel, because I totally can.”
“NO!! We want you here. You are the only person we would ever share our vacation with,” she said.
Shit, tears again.
“I just love you both so much,” I announced, taking the swanky room in. A big bed! A shower with the head attached to the ceiling! A sink with ample space to put out toiletries! Heaven compared to the dorms (which I have a soft spot for, nonetheless).
“So,” B began, “We should go to our favorite place.”
“Right,” I responded.
“It’s Smokey’s,” N said, smiling. “You are going to just love it!”