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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Strange Encounters of the Good Kind

By Jordan Bunger

A journal I wrote about a day trip I took to Amsterdam during the fall of 2010 while studying abroad in Germany:

I’ve been returning to a strange area of my mind, thought left behind in recent months of growth. I met this girl named Sofya at a head shop, just wandering round the city of Amsterdam, nothing to do, missed the last train to take me home, waiting in limbo until the 7 AM. I told her I was looking at prices of certain products in the shop, not intending to purchase, but she sensed the Westerner in me and bluntly asked, “Canada or US?”. That was all I needed. Took it from there, she ended up sharing her journey with me, a 20 year old girl from Berkeley, CA, only an hour’s drive north of my hometown. Came to Amsterdam with her family, Dutch folks, and now living on her own in the city, working, partying, then repeating. She’s living how any 20-30 year old would in the US, she decided to post up in Amsterdam though. An adventurous girl, obviously, but a little nervous at first, shy in a way I’m familiar with. She was easy to talk to, sharing her journey with a total stranger only 20 minutes after meeting. Her shyness lay in her speech and the way she would uncontrollably fidget with irrelevant items in the shop, following a laugh or a smile from me.
She was edgy, 20 years old, working in a head shop in the pot capital of the world, fun loving, enjoying her youth the way I feel I’m beginning to let slip. Meeting the Sofya’s of the world is tough for me sometimes. I’ve always fought this crippling envy of others, jealous of the way people live their lives, comparing theirs to mine, feelings of personal inadequacy, of hopelessness, and the compounding ugliness crippling my thoughts and actions. I’m rendered into a state of immobility, furthering the illusory gap between myself and my peers. This understanding [of how I measure my own success by comparing it with my personal interpretation of the success of another] has helped me see the negativity of such thinking. While these deliberations were more relevant, this envious nature has been a part of me for so long, and it’s tough to kick the habit. I see it every day, I watch myself while I commit the sin, then condemn my thoughts; it’s an odd cycle.
I must’ve done something right, for Sofya invited me out after she closed up shop. In my situation, I jumped [maybe too eagerly, but it’s not too eager if I really wanted it right?] at the chance to go out with the locals and shorten what would be a cold and lonely night at the train station. Walking to The Winston, her favorite bar, the usual hangout, side by side with Sofya, my nerves were sending weird singles up top. I guess I got nervous, the transfer from one friend to a group is tough for me. Sofya and I got along so well at the shop, but as we walked, I began to play my introverted role, a different character that comes out in such times, and very peculiar to the untrained eyes; and hers were far untrained. The guy she’d met only an hour before was slowly dawning a mask that would leave his face nearly unrecognizable by the end of the night.
It was a fear that I was capable of spending the night with this girl that got me. She sent me signals. Her friends, Nicole and Tamara, giggled as Sofya spoke and cast suggestive glances in my direction. Love was in the air as they say. In such a community, as Sofya led me to believe, “if you make out with anyone tonight, you’ll probably have shared saliva with everyone in this room”. Unknown to me before my encounter with this girl, Amsterdam was not just a day trip destination on a youthful excursion through Europe, but a mini community of travelers had sought refuge in this city. They were all under the age of 25, an obnoxious Aussie accent heard from across two tables away originated in a little island near Fiji, Nicole was a cross breed of Thai and European, Tamara, a lovely personality from Orange County, CA, and Sofya a Dutch girl from Berkeley, CA, returning to her homeland. Their stories were so interesting on their own, made grand by the bizarre similarities to the crew in Torremolinos.


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