Time plays funny little tricks. Some days, sometimes for months, it stretches, infinite, desperate, not only ahead but wrapped around us tightly. But suddenly, there it is running past again, unstoppable and dragging along a world wide open.
There were months and months of not recognizing myself. I am not usually one to get stuck in a situation I don’t feel at ease with but that is exactly what happened. Two years in Avignon felt like a never ending punishment, locked up in a city smaller than myself, feeling my imagination shrink, my mind suffocate.
But then, just as it had started, I woke up one day two months ago and it was over. I packed my boxes and took many bags down to the trash, clothes and bad memories alike. I closed the door behind me with a big fat grin on my face and walked out with a strong sense of freedom.
Fast forward two months and some lagging days lazily spent. I now live in Rotterdam of all places, my suitcase has been put away and the days are full. The sun warms my face as I write this, laying on the couch of the bright flat I call home after a day of biking around the city, from café to café, chatting and working the day away. A world seems to stand between those two versions of my life, those two versions of me.
Rotterdam is everything I love in a city. It is big, it stretches further than I can see, arms of water and parks lace through it, tall bridges make it whole. Each street, still unknown to me, seems full of promises. There are cafés, old cinemas, restaurants. There are bikes and strangers and cars. There is more life than I can encompass.
In the end though, if I give myself a good hard look straight in the eyes, what excites me most might be the person I envision being here, free of anyone’s familiar look, of any preexisting circumstances. I know no-one, I know nothing, and I love it.
Three weeks only have passed but I already feel at home in this scarred place where homogeneity does not stand a chance, where every building looks out of place and so, incidentally, I find mine. It might not be pretty but it has a fierceness, a slight air of notgivingafuck I want to embrace wholly.
In the meantime, here is a preview of two of my (newly found) favorite places to hang out in Rotterdam.
A small yet bright and airy place in the heart of the city that serves craft beers and little plates of home cooked food. The windows are large, the backyard is as green as it gets and the drinks are good, what more can you ask for ?
3012 JW Rotterdam
Picknick is a breakfast / lunch place like so many others that have popped up everywhere lately. The difference is that both food and drinks are very good here : think acaï bowls in the morning, great cookies, savory porridges with kimchi and, last but not least, their specialty of picknick and breakfast platters to be shared.
3011 NM Rotterdam