Saturday, September 09, 2006

What is remembered: Amsterdam, part 1

(Yes, I am aware I nabbed the title from Alice B. Toklas's autobiography)

My first trip abroad was to Amsterdam. I remember my parents' astonished halt at the door of the hotel and myself peeking behind them. A narrow and tremendously steep staircase led upwards directly from the threshold; I had imagined an enormous hall. Our room was in the upper floors, full of beds sprung to bounciness, with sink-in mattresses and pillows. During the holiday, which was long (a whole week?), I often lay on my bed, and formulated a thought I still remember:

"Just to think...I am
In the Universe
On the Earth
In Europe
In Holland
In Amsterdam
In existence
Here."

I wondered, whether "in existence" should in fact be at the top of the list - is existence larger, more all-encompassing, than the universe? - but couldn't form a final opinion on the matter. I followed the curlicue patterns on the pink bedspread with my finger and experienced a delicious existential awareness. I would be eight in the autumn.

3 comments:

nmj said...

oh, anna, you make me nostalgic for time spent in leiden, my brother used to live there, lordy, those steep narrow stairs, who could forget them?! amsterdam is such a hip first place to visit when you are eight! i love your child's view of what it is to exist, i think we have all had those moments as children, and you put it into words deliciously.

kurt said...

I'd guess the (my existence) - to - (universe) hierarchy would be reversed for 98% of all 8 year olds. You were already "thinking globally..."

(I remember the ladder-like stairs in Amsterdam too.)

kanikoski said...

You were certainly more savvy than me. My first trip abroad was to the Netherlands, too. I just couldn't work out what made a continental breakfast continental.

At last I've jumped head-first into blogspot. Does that make me a real person now?