April 1999

My friend told me that before her separation she and her husband went to St. Augustine, Fla. to try to rekindle their marriage. She spoke of a sad, rainy weekend at the old Spanish fortress.

Amsterdam is my St. Augustine.

It was spring. Things had frozen over in Ohio. A long, gray, lifeless season. We had just bought our house. We were talking about moving to Europe the following year. A real estate agent came to advise us about renting our home while we were away.

It was tulip season. We went for five days. We cruised the canals, had coffee in brown cafes, sat up late at night in jazz clubs, saw the Van Goghs. We bought the best falafels ever from a Turkish street cart. We stayed in a different place nearly every night. On the first day we visited the sex museum. That night we walked past the surreal red light brothels where the whores stood like plastic mannequins in picture windows under garish pink florescent lamps. One evening near the end of our stay, we awoke from a somber nap to the sound of the woman in the next room having an orgasm.

We took lots of pictures I vaguely remember now.One day we took the train to see the tulips. It was the first day of sun, maybe the only day. The flowers were blooming in technicolor. We took lots of pictures I vaguely remember now. In most of them we were smiling. It was a very good day.

I have one photograph of that time. The two of us were on a canal cruise boat on our last day in Amsterdam. There is uncertainty in our slight smiles. Not enough good days.


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