White widow. Northern Lights. Casey Jones. Joints. Spliffs. Pipes. Hash, hash … more hash.

My eyes were wide. I had seen it all before, in the pretty glass case displays, but had forgotten. For anyone who enjoys a occassional puff of the wacky tobacky, being in Amsterdam is like being a kid in a candy shop.

“Oh my goodness,” I said, as we sat down in the dimly lit coffee shop, teaming with smokers of all ages, most of whom spoke immaculate English.

“Love it.”

“I know!” N said, grinning ear-to-ear.

An hour later we emerged from Smokey’s, taking in the fresh night air, headed to dinner.

Over a bottle of delicious Chianti and some amazing Italian food, we toasted N’s 30th and made plans for the next day — a canal tour of the city.

We awoke, refreshed the following morning, headed to Smokey’s for a pre-brekkie pow wow, to breakfast, and then the canal tour.

After the hour-long tour (side note: while the boat ride is pretty, it is expensive for what you get, and most of the time you are already passed the topic of conversation since the same stories are in four different languages), we checked out another coffee shop (B had wanted to find the Dampkring, made famous by “Ocean’s 12,” but was unsuccessful), and then I introduced B and N to the magnificent and delicious kebab (a staple of my backpacker diet for the past month). Naturally, they loved it.

Harmless, yes?

It was the next day I felt the “get the hell out of Amsterdam” vibe kick into full gear.

We had just finished lunch, following the discovering of Dampkring, and my leg was hurting. Innocently, I reached down to rub it as we were walking along.

Oh my god. My leg. It had become indented. Concave.

“Holy crap,” I announced, fear ripping through my body, “My shin collapsed. It is concave.”

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The city I hadn’t planned on

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).


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