“I’ll see you tonight then Gregg.” I waived goodbye to my best friend while unlocking my bike.
“Sure, bring a date okay, I don’t want Lily to feel awkward being the only girl in the room.”
“No can do. I’ll grab one at the bar later.” I give him crooked smile.
“See you.” I lit up my cigarette and drive off.
Tonight Gregg planned to purpose his girlfriend Lily and he wanted it to be as casual as possible. I told him that’s not a really good idea, because girls usually like it private. That the moments only belong to both of them, but Gregg insisted that he knows his own girlfriend and knows exactly how to please her.
Anyhow, today’s work was kinda off pissed me, I had to find this newfound material that only existed in Africa. And my boss wants it on her desk the day after tomorrow. I had to make a lot of phone call today, and I’m pretty sure she won’t even look twice at the material once it’s on her desk. She’s a bitch but she’s the one who make sure I get my paycheck, so I really have no choice.
This afternoon is perfect—weather-wise—autumn in Amsterdam’s always the best. The colors of the leaves that slowly turn to brown and all the crisps sound you hear when you step in the falling leaves. It also has a great skyline, with its beautiful orange sky, it’s my favorite time of the year, and also my worst. Think back 4 years earlier when I was in high school, that particular autumn was the worst, ever. My life were falling apart right at that point, and I never really mend ever since.
Anyway, back to reality time, I turn in the corner of the Kalver Straat, it’s tourist attraction spot around here because it’s close to the central station and the dome so it’s crowded. I take another turn to the street behind it, the one that’s not so attractive so lesser people on it, and I almost hit a girl in a red dress.
“voorzichtig!!!” I shout. My cigarette falls out of my mouth.
Her reaction was odd. She stands over there, as if she’s ready if the worst happen, and she just cover he face with her hands. I hit the brake and take right so I hit the building next to her.
“Pardon! Ik zag u niet. Pardon meneer.” She said. “bent gekwetst u?” she comes closer and helps me straighten my bike.
“Ja, ik ben goed.” I said.
We stand in silence.
“You’re not Dutch, are you?” I ask. “Your Dutch were outta the place, wrong grammar, wrong pronunciation.”
“I’m sorry, I panicked.” Says her. “You’re not Dutch too, are you? You speak British.” Points her.
“You’re wrong, I’m a Dutch. I’m Tijmen, by the way.” I give her my hand.
“Tobby. And I’m sorry I got in your way.”
“What are you doing here? Are you a tourist? This is the wrong place, no tourist attraction here.”
“No, I’m taking picture here.” She lifts her camera. “It’s an assignment. I just moved here. I came from America.”
“I see.” I pick my fallen cigarette and lit it again.
“That’s gross! Why don’t you just lit the new one?” She mocks me with pure American accent, as heard on TV.
“Because this is the only one I have left. And the winkel is far. It’s your fault, I had to warn you so I wouldn’t hit you.”
“Okay, here’s the deal, let me buy you one cigarette, but in return, you have to show me how to get to Rotterdam from here.”
“Are you lost?”
“No, I’m not lost, I just cannot find my way to the station, I’m not lost, I know which train to take to go there.” She hesitates.
“That’s a deal, hop on.” I pat the passenger seat on my bike.
“You want me to go with you on that?”
“Yeah, it’s safe. I promise you a safe journey to the nearest winkel, then to the station. Come on.”
“so, that’s your train, it will depart in the next two hours.” I point the departure board that hangs from the ceiling.
“yeah, I can see that. I still have two hours to waste, is there any book store near here?”
she’s a geek.
“Not that I know of, but I know a bar where we could sit and drink.”
“I’m not legal yet, I’m only 17.” She looks at me with worried eyes.
“Oh, well,that's legal here actually, but okay then how about coffee? Coffee’s legal in America right?”
She nods, “just make sure I’ll be back here in two hours.”
“You have my words.” I promise her.
“So, what are you doing here, in Netherland?” I ask after we ordered our coffees.
“I’m an exchange student. I’m gonna be here for like a year, and then maybe I’ll go back to my country, or stay here for good, I don’t know yet. What do you do Tijmen?”
“I’m a student/freelancer. I study material engineering, you see. I go to college In Delft, have you heard of it?”
“Yes! That’s where I wanna go!”
“TU Delft? Why? What major you’re interested in?”
“I don’t know yet, but I’ve always wanted to go there.”
We spend the next hour chatting about how she got herself into the exchange program, what I’m learning in material engineering, why she’s here at Amsterdam, and she asked me the same question too.
From our little chat I know a few things about her: she’s from North Carolina, she lives in Rotterdam alone in a flat paid by the government, she just been in this country for two weeks and haven’t found a good friend yet, she misses her home, and I think she has a boyfriend back at home, because she kept texting from time to time.
“My friend, Gregg is about to propose to his girlfriend tonight, and he wants to do it in a crowd—don’t ask, I told him girls like it private. He suggested me to bring a date but I have no one.” I tell her once we walk out of the coffee house.
“Oh, that’s so sweet. He’s 20 too like you? Isn’t that’s too fast?”
“He’s 21, not much different actually, well, Lily is his high school sweet heart, and I think they’re ready.”
She nods. “Good for them.”
“Do you wanna come with me? I mean, you said you haven’t got that much friends and it’s weekend anyway, no hurry to return home, right?” I offer her my invitation.
“Where is it? And how do I know that you’re not a bad guy?”
wow. In my life, I’ve never met such a straight forward girl like her.
“It’s here, in Amsterdam, where Lily works, and if I were a bad guy, I would kidnap you already without having to accompany you to the train station and stuff. I’m a good guy, believe me.” Okay, maybe I’m not a good guy, but come on, I want her to come with me tonight.
“I don’t know. No offence but you don’t look that good, you know.” She looks at me from head to toe and back to my eyes. She gives me this look that’s kinda hard to explain to me, like she’s judging me, but in the other hand also teasing me.
“Okay, no offence but no wonder you haven’t made any friends yet. Do you ignore everybody’s invitation like this?”
Now that got into her.
“Fine, I want you to promise me something, though.” She pulls my sleeve to stop me from walking.
I stop and turn to her. “Name it.”
“Take me home safely. And please stay close to me while we’re in there because my social skill sucks.”
“Clearly.” I chuckle. “Okay, I promise I’ll take you home safely, so where do you live?”
“I’m not giving you my address.”
I stun. “Wait, you want me to take you home safely but you wont give me your address? How’s that gonna work?”
“You will follow me home and send me right in front of my door. That’s how you’ll know where I live.” She smiles. Her hazel eyes glisten with excitements.
“Okay, so where should we go now? Anything you wanna see in Amsterdam?” I close our deal.
“I want to go home first.”
“Tobby, it’s six o’clock already, you’ll arrive at Rotterdam by seven thirty, the proposal’s on eight o ‘clock. Just hang out with me.”
“So it’s okay if I wear this outfit?”
I look at her from head to toe. “Yeah, it’s a bar anyway, you can wear anything, just tell them you’re 18 okay.”
“Okay. So where are you gonna take me now? Show me everything interesting about Amsterdam, but just don’t take me inside the canal, that’s disgusting.”
“Hop on, I’ll show you around.”