Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I’ve always wanted to write a lullaby.
It was raining the first time I went out with the girl from Amsterdam. We met at a hotel near the train station. She lived in Amersfoort and commuted by train, so it seemed like a reasonable compromise. We sat and had a drink in the lobby bar while planning our next move. She talked about her family business and finishing her degree, I talked about travel and music. Funny thing, she didn’t much care for rock and roll.
From there we went to a place called Sopranos—a piano bar in the tourist-heavy Rembrandtplein (“plein” is Dutch for “square”, and the Dutch love their pleins)—that a local friend had introduced me to a few nights earlier. The bar was tucked away in an alley, which meant that while there was live music, it wasn’t especially crowded. The piano was just loud enough to talk over if you got pretty close. The perfect place for a first date.
Early on, she had mentioned that she couldn’t stay too late, else she’d miss the last train back to Amersfoort. “If it comes to it,” I said, “I’ll put you in a cab.” She said it would be too much money, but I insisted. I knew how expensive the ride in from the airport was. How much worse could it be to go to the next town over?
As it happens, Amersfoort is nowhere near Amsterdam. Roughly 25 miles. Whatever you think that converts to in US dollars, you’re guessing too low. Expensive as it was, I was suddenly much less comfortable putting her the in taxi with a stranger to go so far away. Chivalry meant nothing to the driver, who insisted on also charging me for the return trip.
The truth is that I didn’t mind spending the money. Because I did what I thought was the gentlemanly thing to do, and because I had the unmistakable feeling that I had just seen the beginning of something important. Driving back to Amsterdam, I reclined my seat and watched the rain fall down my window. Everything seemed to slow down. It didn’t help that the driver didn’t have the radio on. That long, slow, silent ride in the middle of the night.
If there had been a soundtrack, it would have gone something like this.