Κυριακή, 19 Νοεμβρίου 2017

One for the road pt. 2: Sweet life

...

  The park was about a couple kilometers away from Jessica's apartment, but she didn't mind walking that much. She wanted to clear her head anyways, she thought the best way about it was to walk in the "not-so-woken-up-yet" town of hers. Growing up in a different country, before moving to study abroad, created this weird conundrum for her; she didn't feel like she belonged anywhere in particular, like she didn't have a place to call home. The house she had grown up with she wasn't really fond of and the place she was staying currently was too recent to create a connection with, so instead of having two homes, she had none. Like a traveler who is between connecting flights, lingering in the airport terminal for a while until they eventually board their next plane. Her world was one gigantic terminal, and since she didn't have a particular destination to be at, she just sort of lingered.


  Shuffling through a couple of songs that didn't quite fit her mood she stumbled upon an old favourite of hers, Frank Ocean's "Sweet Life", who she discovered by accident. She was travelling to Germany to spend Christmas with her godparents in Berlin, for which she had a connecting flight through Amsterdam. Her flight was the morning after, so she had almost a full day by herself. She booked a small room in a cute little hotel she had found online, and when she arrived she left her stuff and run right out to not lose any precious time. Visiting Amsterdam was one of the top things in her bucket list, even if it were for just a day, so she figured it'd be a nice opportunity to go for a walk an see some sights. Not missing, of course, were her white on-ear headphones, same ones she's had for the past 5 years, a graduation gift from her parents. Walking through the quite cold, Christmas - decorated capital she couldn't hide her amazement of the buildings and architecture of the centre. She was so used to plain old roads and houses you couldn't tell apart, seeing a city that is almost literally floating on water was something extraordinary for her.
  After some exploration and picture-taking in the beautiful canals of the city, she decided to treat herself to a nice hot meal before heading out again. The place was swarming with Argentinian steakhouses and Italian pizzerias, and being a college student she'd have the latter every other day so she chose the former for a change. There, a clearly-not-Argentinian-looking dude welcomed her with a smile on his face and sat her at a table overlooking the local cinema. Table for two for one; Jessica hoped she didn't seem too sad about sitting by herself in a strange city. The beer was cold, the steak was great and the restaurant was playing some weirdly out-of-place tunes which surprisingly fit her music tastes. Eating Argentinian steak while drinking Belgian beer in a what seemed like middle-eastern-ish decorated restaurant in the heart of Amsterdam and listening to old-school hip-hop was something she would have never imagined doing, but there she was. After some funky Biggie songs and chill Nas "Illmatic" beats when something newer, less well known caught her attention. It was chill and had a great vibe behind it, some sweet male vocals as well. She liked noticing small stuff in her songs, like the mellow guitar rhythm or a gentle drum beat that just elevates a song to greatness. Interrupting her delicious dinner she tried to get the attention of the waiter.
  "Excuse me!" she exclaimed, raising her hand.
  The waiter took notice of her immediately and approached her table in an instant. "How can I assist you?" asked the mustached man that kinda looked like a young, less muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  "Sorry to bother you but I really like the song, would you mind telling me who it is from?"
  The waiter let out a genuine laugh and stepped back from the table and into the kitchen. Jessica was baffled and kinda annoyed, as she thought that he was just being rude, making fun of her question. Just when she was ready to get up and leave, the waiter comes back with an even younger looking dude, tall, bearded and tattooed guy who looked like a guy who's last name ended in -sson.
  "This is my brother" said the waiter, "he's the sous-chef and our, erm, DJ of the sorts." he added. He left the table and let the other guy do the talking.
  "Mind if I join you?" asked the guy.
  "I don't if you don't" said Jessica, kinda embarrassed by the situation.
  "Danny" he said, extending his arm to Jessica.
  "Jessica" she replied, a bit red on the cheeks. "Sorry about this, I just wanted to know about the song you played a few minutes ago, didn't mean to create all this trouble."
  "No trouble at all" said Danny, "I quite enjoy talking to customers with good music taste." His dutch accent was barely distinguishable through his crystal clear English, Jess thought. Guy before was Frank Ocean, think it was "Sweet life" playing if I recall correctly. I can check it for you if you want." he added.
  Their flirt-ish vibe was all over the dining table but in a weird, "This is fun but we aren't gonna get together" kind of way. They both knew it.
  "No I think that's it, I vaguely remember hearing 'Sweet Life' at some point in the song. Great stuff."
  "Been a fan since Channel Orange" said Danny. "Quite a talented dude." he leaned back on the chair and got comfortable. "So what brings you here?" he asked.
  "A plane" she said without realizing she just made a stupid joke. Danny's half-smile half-disappointed grunt made her retract her statement. "Er, I mean, I have a plane to catch tomorrow. I'm going to Berlin to visit my godparents for Christmas and I just had a connection here."
  "Awesome." said Danny. "Enjoying it so far?"
  "The city is so beautiful!" exclaimed Jessica. "It's just so different than-" She didn't get a chance to  finish her sentence before the waiter interrupted her by giving a disapproving nod to Danny which caught his attention.
  "I'm terribly sorry, I have to get back to work." he said, frowning.
  "It's alright, don't worry" Jessica  nodded.
  "If you'd like I can take you for a walk after I'm done, maybe grab a beer or something " said Danny.
  Jessica considered the option for a while and she found no reasonable reason to refuse the offer, which surprised even her when she did.
  "I was thinking about going to bed early to get some rest" she said, "but thanks for offering anyways!" She flashed an awkward "I'm sorry" smile at him while he was getting up.
  "Hey, it's OK don't worry about it." He reached into his pocket and handed her his card. "In case you find yourself lost in Amsterdam in the future." he said, winking.
  She blushed once more, thanking him. After finishing her meal she left the money on the table and sighed a half-hearted goodbye to a lost chance.
  She didn't actually go to the hotel right away. Instead, she walked around the city for a bit more, still listening to music. She pirated the whole Channel Orange album using some Starbucks free wi-fi and listened to it front and back a few times before heading to the hotel; "Sweet life" had become her official theme for the trip. The next morning she left early, went to the airport and flew an uninteresting, short flight to Berlin.


 She'd been walking for around 20 minutes without realizing, and her mood had instantly changed. Her face shifted from a frown to a big smile as she shuffled to a few Channel Orange songs until she reached the park. At one moment she stopped, took her wallet out of her back pocket and shuffled through her credit cards. She takes one of them out, a black-and-gold one with red details that read "Los amigos Argentinian Grill & Tapas Restaurant" with gold letters and a "Johan and Daniel Janssen" underneath. She stared at it for a while and let out an audible laugh. "So close to Jenson" she mumbled. She put the card back in her wallet and continued her walk towards the park.

...
  

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