Amsterdam, you are so cruel.

I made my way to Amsterdam this weekend and lost my mind.

Yes, I smoked a bit of pot, but no, I didn’t go crazy. I smoked half a blunt and nibbled on half a muffin, and that was it really. But ever since I went, I’ve felt like crap, and I don’t know why.

There’s something liberating about travel. You don’t have to be yourself. And your worldly possessions are limited to what’s in your backpack. Depending on where you are, maybe you don’t know the language, and that puts you back into the shoes of a little kid again; you can’t read directions or store signs and everything becomes so much more difficult.

And yet it all feels so simple. In that way, that feeling of helplessness can actually be liberating. Being a child releases you of the responsibility of a schedule, of knowing how to get to your next destination. All of a sudden you have to rely on your own skills of navigation and interpretation, and the kindness of strangers, to help you out. And it works, almost every time.

Traveling has taught me to let go and that’s why I love exploring the world. I can pretend that I don’t have a pile of worries at home to stress about and stay up late worrying over. I can just… be.

And so I was flummoxed during this trip to Amsterdam. Why, in a foreign place I’d never seen before, did I feel so restless? Maybe it was the temporary nature of the thing. A weekend trip. Maybe it was because I didn’t feel like I have a home to return to. Maybe, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my life except wasting it. It’s hard to enjoy a vacation you didn’t feel like you deserved.

Amsterdam was cruel because it’s hard to gauge just how many space muffins you should eat, but also because my favorite part of Amsterdam was the wheelhouse of our houseboat, a place that was quiet and tucked away from the world, and leaving it was harder than I’ll admit. It felt like home, for just a moment. And I’ve been searching so long to find that.

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About Angela

Editor, bookbinder, and writer.

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