London Ramblings pt 4: Lost and Stolen in Amsterdam

*This is a continuation of London Ramblings pt 1, and pt 2, on Basic England and pt 3, Edinburgh, Scotland 

The next weekend I got on a plane to Amsterdam with two people, Tatum and James, whom I had known for two weeks but had quickly become my best friends. I was originally determined to remain true to my angsty and contrived air of nomadish individualism, having gone to London knowing no fellow-students and only one of the professors. I vaguely remember Tatum asking me at one point how I had imagined my month would play out before meeting them. My answer had something to do with books and self-induced (and solitary) literary revelation. The whole group thing was an unexpected occurrence that felt equal parts new and old, as though this social being that I hadn’t known since Junior year of high school was being dusted off and, reminded of her actual age, brought back to life. Amsterdam was a wake up call, however, and reminded me of how irrevocably odd and incapable of blending in that I am. The time there can be recounted through a series of lost and stolen things, juxtaposed by deep and unexpected connections. This theme asserted itself the moment the plane landed, as we commissioned a cab to drive us to our hostile. I assured the guys that I had enough cash to get us to centrum, and they reluctantly acquiesced to the driver’s gesture to enter the vehicle. The meter quickly revealed that I did not, in fact, have the adequate funds. We communicated this fact the best we could our driver, who did not appear to understand the variety of English we were speaking

Us: “Sir, you can let us out here, we don’t have enough money”

Driver: “Ok.”

*Continues driving until I break out in nervous sweats at the thought of owing money to a Dutch man*

When he finally stopped relatively close to the hostile, we raced to find an ATM and eventually handed the crook (driver) an absurd amount of money. We walked into our hostile only slightly disheartened by the loss, still dreaming of ~adventure~. I noticed a bag they were selling at the front desk that read: “Home is in Your Head.” It was perfect, a motto, an answer to my conflicted state of being: am I a loner, homeless and orphaned, or am I just another person, looking for home and a people to share it with. This way I could be both, as soon as I bought this bag, of course. I was refused this purchase, however, because they did not accept my debit card as a form of payment and, as I mentioned, the cab driver had stolen all of my cash.

The memory of Amsterdam is one big blur, filled with fragments of horrible situations that accumulate into a beautiful regard of the city, and a desire to go back and redeem my time there. One fragment that I can extract from the blur is an image of a sportsbar we found and frequented. It served bottomless ribs and 10 shots of Jäger for 10 Euros, a steal that prevented visits to other, more historical, attractions of this city, renowned for it’s food and museums. One museum we did visit, however, was the Heineken Experience, where a tour guide teaches you about the brewing process and the high-cultural language of all things hops and malts. A group of about fifty people gathered around with an allotted glass of beer as the guide taught us, via a headset microphone, the correct way to drink it. He awarded extra pores to those who participated and answered questions correctly. James and Tatum answered the first and second questions correctly, making our small group the elite students. To maintain this status, All I had to do was answer a question correctly, or at the very least remain silent so as not to screw with the batting average. But of course, before he could ask another question, I dropped my beer and loudly broke the glass. The guide made a joke, all the people laughed, and James and Tatum looked down in embarrassment, determined to disassociate themselves from me. The guide gave me a replacement glass out of pity and we smuggled it out of the brewery to take home as a reminder of my failure to blend into the group. Any group. All groups.

Perhaps the pinnacle embarrassment and Thing-to-be-Redeemed from Amsterdam was stolen and lost on a pub-crawl. We underwent this ~adventure~ whole-heartedly and were in the life of the group from the start. We made many new friends from all around the world and one enemy from Australia, whom I wrestled for a drink coin he had stolen from me. However, this was not the worst thing that was stolen from me that evening. At the second or third bar I noticed that my phone was missing (along with a bus pass but nobody ever talks about that one). I wasn’t about to let this ruin my evening, so I opted to Stay Calm and Crawl on. When we got back to the hostile, I called my mother to let her know she should probably cancel my service. (I am, after all, responsible and foreword-thinking and coordinated). When she answered the phone she was sniffling and obviously upset: “Emma?!” she cried. Apparently, due to some crossed iCloud voodoo, my sister had received a phone call from a non English-speaking man from my number. Mother proceeded to call every phone number she could find affiliated with Belmont administration and abroad. We woke up the next morning to a phone call from one of the faculty members on the trip. James answered the phone: “Hello? … Hey Dr. Tiner … Yes Emma is alive.”

I deduced that my phone was indeed stolen when I found a photo of an unknown woman at the Schiphiol airport, which was obtained through the aforementioned iCloud voodoo. This was further confirmed by a notification on my computer that read: “iPhone Last Found in: Iran.” Some people  firmly believe that I first lost my phone and then someone found and took it. I stand by my telling of the story, which is adamant in clearly relaying the fact that my phone was first stolen and, therefore, lost. But, truth be told, taking an inventory of Amsterdam illustrates my inability to lay low and find a home in a group: 1) no cash 2) no tote bag 3) broken beer glass 4) stolen beer glass 5) Lost pub crawl Tshirt 6) Stolen flannel in lieu of lost pub crawl tshirt 7) lost and stolen cell phone. Whether it was lost then stolen, or stolen then lost, I was successfully disconnected from everything. I was lost and stolen, stolen and lost, in and by various countries, and into the journey to and from them, fragmented and scattered into America, England, Scotland, and, apparently, Iran. Amsterdam did a very good job of taking things from me and of reminding me that I cannot own anything without the risk of losing it or having it stolen. Home is in your head, and must be kept there for safekeeping, because the stolen glass was still dropped and broken five months later in America and the bag itself could not have carried every remnant of Amsterdam, alive and gleaming, back to America.


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