I Live Here
It's one of the odd perks of living in a tourist destination. It's easy to be reminded that you live in an amazing place.
Every day I wake up and take the train into Amsterdam. I deboard at Amsterdam Centraal, a beautifully restored train station that's attempting to combine the nostalgia of the old with the function of the new. I hurry past the hordes of tourists and commuters to get to the office on time, and without fail, every morning, I blow past someone trying to take a photo of something: the station, the old exchange, Dam Square, a canal.
It's taken me this long to accept it: I live in a place steeped in history and beauty. This evening I strolled through Dam Square and happened upon a memorial for the massacre of 23-33 civilians two days after the armistace of WW2. Upon hearing of the Canadian advance and the inevitable liberation of the Netherlands, the people poured out into the square to celebrate -- they were gunned down by drunken German soldiers. Today street performers pose with tourists there, while the rest of us wander about eating poffertjes and buying clothes. The Vondelpark is the kind of place that would make Jane Jacobs proud, filled with benches and bike paths, gazebos and concert spaces. There's even a family of parrots, escaped from the zoo, that've taken up reisdence there.
I live here.
The Netherlands is centuries old, and with that age come its fair share of scars and beauty. I feel as though I'm just coming around to this realisation and it's had an honest effect on me.
To whomever is reading this, might I suggest the following: get up from whatever it is you're doing and go for a walk. Get to know the place you call home. Look up and take in the skyline, walk down the alleys and imagine what may have transpired there over the history of your city. We oftimes forget where we live, too easily falling into familiar patterns, but if you take a moment to look around, I promise you won't regret it.