“Are you the now or never kind?” -Eve 6Amsterdam, Fall 2009
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
- “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (lines 26-34) by T.S. Eliot
During my second session of my Philosophy of History class, I was told to be prepared to present my favorite representation of time in the week following. After heavy consideration, I chose the aforementioned poem by T.S. Eliot. Only now, with less than a week left here in this city, does this poem finally resonate with me in a way that it did not– could not– months ago.
It is 3:00 am right now as I write this, a time that I’ve gradually grown accustomed to being awake at. I cannot really ascertain the source of my persistent insomnia: is it my natural night owl emerging in the face of final papers and exams? Or perhaps it is a subconscious desire to be awake as much as possible while I am still here in Amsterdam, even if my only company is a passing train racing past my window.
For in less than a week from now, I will be ensconced in the familiar warmth and comfort of my house in America. On the 17th, I will find myself once again having my own room, my bathroom doubled, and while my closet will be halved, at least it’s still a formidable walk-in. I will be happily greeted with a heart attack feast (Giordano’s spinach deep dish, Chipotle’s vegetarian burrito with everything, and The Cheesecake Factory’s Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake™) and new clothes (a new purse that I requested my younger brother buy for me in fear that it would be sold out by the time I returned and a giant box from Urban Outfitters consisting of yet another purse, a pair of boots, a pullover, and a dress). In short, by this time next week, I will be home.
But what is home? Where is home? And, just so I can offer a more Foucauldian question, how is the notion of home constructed? I do not have any answers but do offer my own personal experiences: this is home. This bed that I lie on is home. The streets that I walk on are home. The restaurants I regularly frequent are home. I consider my home to be a myriad of amalgamated places where I have built affectionate memories upon.
I will always consider the Netherlands home, simply because living here has satisfied a visceral sort of bliss I once thought was incapable of being satiated, let alone fulfilled. Exchanging one home for another is not a matter of trading up or down, though right now it certainly feels like it, as an aching fissure in my heart begins to form and strengthen as the days go by. Now that I have reached the end, I am shamefaced to admit that I hold at least one thing in common with J. Alfred Prufrock: a belief that there will always be time, “time yet for a hundred indecisions, / And for a hundred visions and revisions.” Yet this conviction becomes strikingly inaccurate as time passes and nothing is done in favor of hesitation and an attempt to live in the distant past or in the near future, but never in the living present.
Instead of trying to ruminate in the shadow of memories or dwelling on the inevitable future, I am trying to merely live. Bleak thoughts plague me incessantly and as a person prone to brooding, they can be truly incapacitating. But I am trying to view this departure in an optimistic light; instead of it being a grudging goodbye, I am adventuring and having fun with my friends until we depart on the 17th. We are celebrating life, friendship, and Amsterdam in the best way possible. We kicked off this farewell week with a riotous party in the form of a football game– the Amsterdam’s AJAX versus Nijmegen’s N.E.C. It was a fun and thrilling excursion, as there were several IES students who attended the game, which ended in AJAX’s favor, 3-0.
As I explore and say goodbye to Amsterdam in these last few days, I will try my best to overcome my predilection towards despair and to take full advantage of my last few days. After all, to quote Lenny Kravitz, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
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