when i was young, maybe 15 or 16, i went and lived in holland for a few months.

i flew into amsterdam and remember thinking i was the coolest person on earth.

earth being the mid-sized suburb i grew up in.

a nuclear bomb could have taken out the entire country

but if my little bubble of a suburb hadn’t been affected

we really wouldn’t have known.

anyway, i arrived in holland and this quirky, unusually skinny man named william van der wal picked myself and a sort-of friend of mine up in a car about the size of go-cart and drove us three hours out into holland into the community we’d be staying at for our stay.

william (“villum”, as he put it) looked kind of like an emancipated horse. he drove fast, like maniacally fast, in a country filled with round-about intersections and sheep herds with the right of way.

he was our host/tour guide/soccer coach and every morning he would pick us up from our host family’s quaint brick home and take us about our daily activities, which usually included two work outs and some hairbrained tourist excursion.

you see, much like chicago and illinois, there is holland and there is amsterdam.

we were in holland.

this is a country with more sheep than humans, more land under water than above water, and endless fields of tall grass.

three hours from amsterdam, you’re pretty short on touristy excursions.

i remember some soccer stadiums (smaller than my highschool stadium) and some parks with jungle gyms.

and a bike ride involving the two of us foreigners, plus maybe four dutch kids we could barely communicate with, throwing eggs at the neighbor’s houses.

a ride-by egging.

i’m fairly sure villum wasn’t a part of that.

it’s also surprisingly difficult to throw an egg while riding a bicycle.

either way, we made it into amsterdam just once to take in an ajax match.

i remember thinking, “AMSTERDAM! there’s MARIJUANA here.”

i didn’t know what it meant.
but i thought i was cool just for knowing what it was called.

what i find amusing about the whole experience (and let me tell you, i hated almost every moment of this particular trip), is that a lot of people i know have been to amsterdam. they all have such funny stories about the city, it’s people, and of course, it’s notoriously liberal social mandates.

yet here i am with these awkward associations of a city that, for most, embodies freedom and experimentation and good times…but for me triggers thoughts of creepy bad drivers and eggs.

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