Many years ago I was living in Bucharest and I had a friend. First time we met was on the internet, the second time – after nine months – in front of a metro station.
He was the one to introduce me to my favorite places in Bucharest: an open air bar on top of a theatre, from where you could see the stars on a clear night, while listening to music and having your drink and the other one – a club, that kind of club that I could never find an equal for in terms of music and atmosphere. And some others.
After some time, my friend happened to fall in love with a Dutch girl whom he accidentally met in a small mountain town in Romania because fate decided that she replaced a person who could not make it to that trip anymore. My friend liked her because she was natural and boyish and looked a bit like Meg Ryan and a bit like himself.
The distance between them (which followed their short encounter) decided it was time that my friend moved to the Netherlands. Which he did with most pleasure because life could have been too predictable if he hadn`t.
From time to time, especially for holidays, he would come back to Bucharest for a couple of days to see his family and friends. It was on one of those days that I met him after work, up on that same theatre, for a drink. He then started telling me how happy he was to have finally moved to Amsterdam and found a great place to live in: a loft, somewhere in the West, on a street with an exotic name.
I remember watching his happy face, listening to what he was telling me and thinking that was the only time when I felt really jealous. And then I told him: “I am really jealous!”
He was also happy that he found another Romanian guy, sort of a friend he knew from back home, who was also living in the Netherands. And this was making things better.
The drinks were over and we said good-bye.
Next time we met was two years after (in 2009 to be more specific), this time in Amsterdam, where I was on a study tour with a couple of colleagues from Bucharest. We were staying in Den Haag and had a full day schedule, but, on our only free day, we came to Amsterdam.
“It`s the best day of the year to be here!” – my friend said over a beer, this time in Replay cafe, in the back of the Flower Market. “It`s Gay Pride. Everybody is on the street. We`ll go on the canals to see the parade after we finish the beer. And that friend of mine, the Romanian guy I was telling you about, he is coming too. We`ll meet him there.”
So we went on the canals, drank another beer, saw the parade, then we drank some water, smoked cigarettes, ate food. And then we had to say good-bye once again, as I had to return to Den Haag that evening and leave to Bucharest in the morning.
And that was it! My first encounter with the Netherlands, with Amsterdam… And with my friend`s friend. I remember how terribly hard it was to be back home. There was something about Amsterdam and someone in Amsterdam that was actually me. At least that`s how it felt. So I had to return.
First time I set foot in the loft situated in the West, on a street with an exotic name, was that same year`s Winter, when I came here to spend New Year`s Eve with my best friend from Bucharest, my friend and my friend`s friend. I don`t remember my reaction when I saw the place my friend had made me feel so jealous about, I was more focused on my friend`s friend, who was also very focused on me and who had made a song for me, that he wanted me to listen to. The same way I wanted him to see the painting I had painted for him.
January 1st 2010 found us all in the loft in the West, on the street with an exotic name. My friend was playing the soundtrack from that movie called “The Boat That Rocked” and was burning an incense stick. My best friend was already having her boterham met kaas en cherry tomaten / sandwich with cheese and cherry tomatoes. And me and my friend`s friend were just happy.
So happy that, exactly six months later, the loft in the West on the street with an exotic name was ours to live in. So not very happy that, more or less one year after this, the loft in the West on the street with an exotic name became mine exclusively.
Am I nostalgic about leaving this place that I`ve been longing for for so many years? Am I nostalgic about leaving the loft in the West on the street with an exotic name after living here and feeling like home for almost two years and a half?
Of course I am. Because a story is a story and it always carries something magic within. And no better place for this story than this loft in the West, on a street with an exotic name!
(All characters will live happily ever after.)