239 Things

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

239 Things

1. Bezuidenhoutseweg. A cold city, that was clear to me even before my train reached the platform. Amsterdam is warm, Groningen is, The Hague isn’t. Amsterdam was my city, or so I thought, the city where my parents squatted in the 1980’s, where Wim Crowel learned his trade. But now I got off at Bezuidenhoutseweg. I could handle a cold city. Leeuwarden is cold, when there’s no one around at 2 AM and the streets are draped in an orange glow. I was introduced to The Hague with the cold somewhere in the background, residing in its parks. Now it slowly encroaches.

2. Herengracht. Everything started to become volatile. Things I had considered good and true for years lost their worth. Whenever I was back in Leeuwarden, the city that I thought was mine seemed alien. Every time I tried to map the changes, they turned out to be bigger than I had thought possible. I was more susceptible to everything - and that’s exactly when I met her.

3. Zuiderstrand. Night, ebb, low plain of wet sand, now and then highlighted in the beam of a lighthouse. This is where we made a pact, our feet in a black North Sea. We stayed till we were numb and walked back past construction works and public buildings with their pilot lights burning.

4. Waldeck Pyrmontkade. Sunday, and The Hague was dormant. On my way to the Museum Quarter, in a daze. This was where the city was warmest, lukewarm, paralysing, a substance in which you could sink away completely and sublimate. Here, she and The Hague became inseparably connected and became my city. Then already I could have anticipated how long it would last. The end felt merciful in a strange way, normalising. I was home for a week and missed the city. When I got back The Hague was, almost in a gothic fashion, mysterious and inviting.

5. Prinsessegracht. She’s here still, but further removed, behind glass panels. It’s autumn now and The Hague is cooling. Everything signals: come closer, sacrifice your previous refuges. This city changes me more quickly than any other place I’ve ever lived and I’m looking for escalation. I want to see this place at its coldest, absolute zero, after that I can handle anything. Yesterday I fell asleep on the train, missed my transfer and washed up on Amsterdam Central Station nauseous and confused. I didn’t recognise that city anymore.