The Amsterdam Pact
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by Josh Lee
2013 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
I think, unlike most parents, mine would prefer it if I was the shy kid that hid under his little rock his whole life, happy and content with just a little space and a small view of the wall in front of him. See, instead, they got the kid who scrambles into a jet like a dog into the back of a pickup truck and takes off on trans-Atlantic adventures as often as he can and wants to one day risk his health, safety, sanity, and organs traveling to Pyongyang, the Congo, and Uganda to name a few. They got a kid who, although he feels somewhat guilty, doesn't feel the need to go home and see them, who cancels family Christmases to travel through Europe alone, and who would probably be okay spending years without seeing them and home at all. In his mind, it's called fierce independence and it's a good thing.

It's 1:57AM, Sunday morning, in Amsterdam and I'm standing in the shower of my hotel with my iPhone in my hand, clearing the steam off of the screen every now and then. It's how and where I tend to write best.

Two days ago I went into De Bijenkorf, the big department store here in Holland and bought a few items (after KLM welcomed me to Holland with a bag that was wide open and missing most of its original contents). Well, I had a very dashing Dutch boy for a salesman in the Sandro department. We made some small talk. He followed me around a tad excessively. He complimented my passport photo (which is horrible). Nothing really came of it. I mentioned that I'd be back in because I'm addicted to shopping. He was happy about that. Tonight I fulfilled that promise and snagged the jacket I had been dreaming about.

Well Rik was there. It was an hour until closing and we hastily made plans to meet up afterward and explore the bars and the vibrant nightlife of Amsterdam. The match between Columbia and Uruguay was on and all the bars would be broadcasting it. Hot boys in soccer shorts, of course they would show it.

So he went back to work and I went back to my hotel to drop off my new jacket and subsequently we went out for a night on the Dutch town.

Amsterdam's nightlife is the epitome of the term. In some ways, it's more alive at night than during the day. Happy hour starts at eleven p.m. and most bars are open until at least four, many much later.

We started out with beers and joined a group of guys at the bar. Everyone was seemingly from somewhere else in the world. Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Korea, and me from the US of A to name a few. Some rooted for Columbia and number ten James Rodriguez (more for him than anything else I think), others for Uruguay.

Then came the rounds of shots on Columbia's goals. And then the mystery drinks that the bar tenders kept shoving at us. I don't really know who paid the rest of the tab but when we left mine was only thirty euro.

It was a phenomenal time and even as a local in a crowd of tourists, Rik seemed to be enjoying the excitement as much as I was. He lives in some Graachtenbourgen or Straatenhauven or something much too far out of Amsterdam to travel on the alcohol we'd had so for the night I invited him to crash at my hotel.

Around one, we finally ducked out of the bar and as we walked back down the Karvelstraat to the hotel, as excited as I was to be arm in arm with this studly Dutchman who smelled like all the delicious cologne and perfume at Bijenkorf, my mind started drifting from him. I started thinking that this is the life I want. Not necessarily the picking up my salesman as a bonus to items already on sale, but the rest of it. A trans-continental to Europe: Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Paris, Prague.

I knew since the first month that I spent as a resident of Los Angeles that I was done with it. Well, as I've been realizing these past few months, I'm not just done with Los Angeles, I'm done with California and even the United States. I promise you that this isn't just the alcohol talking because this idea has been brewing in my mind since I arrived at Heathrow back in December. I've been through my own country. Not all of it, but all that I've wanted to see. I've inhabited it for nearly twenty one years and I'm ready to trade in my blue passport for a red one (EU passports are a dark maroon) with the shield of Her Majesty the Queen of England.

I've started paving the way for the great move with people. Through my travels, I've made incredible friends that, despite the thousands of miles, I maintain close relationships with. I have friends in and from nearly every country in Western Europe and now even as far off as Johannesburg and Zimbabwe. Amazing friends who's life stories have only inspired me to further explore the world, to be an explorer, and a citizen of the world.

I don't know how I'll do it and I know it'll be scary, but this article, to be henceforth known as the Amsterdam Pact, shall serve as a signed and sealed promise to myself, my parents, my friends, and all of you that I will, come May of 2015 have a plan and be initiating a move across the Atlantic.

That kid, fiercely independent with a yearning to see the world made a decision that would change the path of his future and set him on the course to his destiny. Travel was what set him free. And until he found someone to tie him down, he would continue to roam the lonely planet ever looking onward, ever moving forward.