Tuesday, 12 June 2012

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Homomonument Amsterdam

Well here we are again. Fancy meeting you here. Especially considering the little time I spend here myself these days...

Let me tell you how I spent last Sunday: I spent a very nice afternoon with the wonderful Will and Laurent. They've spent a couple of days at K.'s Amsterdam apartment and are at this very moment sailing on a cruise ship to the Baltic.

I met them at the apartment and we walked to Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast (okay, it was almost noon, but I only had a croissant, you can't call that brunch - besides, I hate that word, so don't call anything brunch, please). We had a lovely chat, they are so charming and would be very welcome guests if they decided to stop by again.

On our way back we stopped by the Westerkerk, specifically the gay monument outside. A lot of people only notice the pink granite triangle that sticks out into the canal, but actually, there are three triangles, together forming a large triangle. It's hard to find a good picture of the actual monument, so I've added one from the monument as copied for miniature town Madurodam. (It's not quite accurate, actually.) Together they serve as a warning from the past, a confrontation with the present and an inspiration for the future.

The three triangles each point to a significant landmark. The one with the steps down to the water points to the national war memorial on Dam square. On May 4 1970, Memorial Day, gay activists were arrested for laying a lavender wreath at the monument on the Dam. One points to the Anne Frank house and the third to the office of the COC.

The triangle pointing to the Anne Frank house bears a line of poetry by Jacob Israël de Haan (1881-1924) - the first victim of zionist political violence, although that's not actually relevant to this story - which translates as "Such an endless desire for friendship" (better than my rough translation at the time). It is taken from a poem named "To a Young Fisherman".

As usual there were lines at the Anne Frank house, although Will and Laurent told me not as many as yesterday (and that was in the rain, strangely enough). They ended up not going because it was so busy. I count myself lucky I went there with school, many years ago; I don't remember having to queue.

We walked back to the apartment - with a detour to buy cheese, what else? - where we were soon joined by K. and R. We then took their cases down the stairs from hell and K. and I accompanied them to the passenger terminal. The cruise ship wasn't as big as some of the ones you see parked behind it, but it was still visible from the tracks, that morning when I arrived in Amsterdam.

Back at the apartment the three of us spent a lazy afternoon (R. and I reading, K. fiddling with his phone but not as restless as usual), R. cooked a lovely dinner, K. went to bed and we watched a couple of episodes of Terra Nova.

By then it was high time for me to get back home. It was past 11 when I got to Gouda, my feet were aching, so I took a cab home. I only do this a few times a year, when it's late or raining, but the taxi driver remembered me. I always have a chat with them, ask if they've got long to go and wish them a good night.