As a child I thought impossible to ever grow tired of watching cartoons. It turned out I was wrong. I gave up on them rather soon. When I discovered drawing I believed something similar. I stopped a few years later. At 15 I started to keep a diary and could not imagine life without it. Again, I was wrong. After 12 consecutive years I called it quits. My writing, however, continued in the form of a personal blog – Fantasmagorique – where I used to put down my thoughts for the following three years.
If introspection and fantasizing was something I had been practicing a lot in the past – in my diaries and on the above mentioned blog – this was about to change soon after I moved to the Netherlands. While I did continue writing on Fantasmagorique for two more years, my posts became so rare and impersonal, I eventually decided to stop and make that page private.
In time I realised there was no need for introspection, nor fantasizing in my new life in Amsterdam. Things happened – no need to dream about them – and they did so on the outside rather than on the inside. Too much feeling or thinking were sure to alienate me in a city where people seemed happy by default and where having fun was everyone’s religion. A sunny day was all you need to feel grateful for just being alive and able to have a glass of rosé on a boat or on a terrace. Life was, after all, to be enjoyed, not pondered upon or anticipated.
With less pressure on looks and more simplicity in relationships, a lot of what I had been used to in Romania proved out of place, useless in the Netherlands. But that was not a problem at all. I was happy to shed my old, tormented skin, and get used to a new, happier and healthier lifestyle. For example, I gave up smoking. It might have served me well in my sleepless nights in Bucharest, pouring words on paper or feeling uneasy for whatever reasons, but it did not pair well with my new running sessions in Rembrandtpark. Amsterdam was so clean and pretty and life here so easy, there was hardly any reason to feel bad at all!
And so, with writing becoming unnecessary and my fascination for the city’s beauty growing, I found a different, more appropriate means of expression – photography – and started this blog, Amsterdamming. My photos were to capture all those things my eyes were seeing, too beautiful – and too simple – to put into words.
Seven years since my move and five years since starting this blog, I find myself in a delicate situation – a crossroads, if you want. If staying on the surface – with my photography and occasional writing – sufficed or at times even made me happy, this becomes less and less true. Amsterdam is and will be a pretty city, and capturing its beauty will inspire people over and over again. Yet, I no longer crave to go from one café to the other, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, with the only purpose of capturing beauty. There are fewer and fewer occasions of this kind when I get my camera out.
What interests me now is to stay true to myself, even if this means accepting that things pretty and nice don’t inspire me as much as they used to. While I do appreciate beauty, I also think beauty alone is not enough. Maybe I have grown tired of all this goodness, as a friend of mine admitted he did. Maybe I just need a break. Imperfections, limitations, mistakes even – I find them so much more resourceful. That is why I have started to focus my photography on people instead, while keeping the city into the background. Amsterdam – the place where the story happens, rather than the subject of the story. This way I maintain my inspiration levels high, which is a must if I want to continue taking photos. And it might be that I like photography a bit more than I liked cartoons or drawing. 🙂
Another consequence of this change of perspective is getting back in touch with a former love of mine – writing. I might have been neglecting it in the last few years, but the voice I deliberately muted will maybe get stronger if I dare to turn the volume a bit higher. With my point of interest switching from Amsterdam as main subject to Amsterdam as the place where my own story is happening and how the city is influencing it, it will maybe be possible to go from the outside to the inside once again, from context to contents – and write it all down.
If ever in the future I look back at the years spent in Amsterdam, I want to know how I felt here. I want to know what my thoughts were. I want to know who were the people I surrendered myself with. While I do have an extended photo collection of the city and some random notes of what I have been doing here, what I am missing is more substance and more feeling. So I will try to fill in the blanks.