Words That Change

Shifting the suburbs: de Baarsjes vs de Pijp

In Uncategorized on 3 June, 2012 at 13:35

I’ve moved. The ceremony of Amsterdam is that a new appartment needs to be found every 3-4 months until you find social housing or buy a property. I have been living in de Baarsjes for an impressive 9 months and am lucky to have found a residence that looks like stability, though away from the locale to which I had become quite attached.

One of the first rituals when moving into a new place is establishing a relationship with a local café. Requirements are that it is comfortable, music passable and coffee excellent.

Sitting in the ‘right café’ (because there will be inferior ,more impersonal options close by that absorb nothing of their surroundings) gives an idea of the character of new suburb. So this Sunday morning, the first tentative morning in my new pad, I turned a corner into a quiet leafy square and found a café with wood stacked outside the door, persian carpets lining the benches, candles already lit at 12pm in protection of the grey day and coffee from the importer where I used to buy coffee in Baarn.

To compare: the borrelmenu in my old ‘right cafe’ in de Baarsjes, W Amsterdam (by the water on a busy corner where Overtoom meets Surinameplein, outstanding music, a top 40 track never came near it) reads Bitterballen, Kastengels, Chickennuggets. The new one reads: Bitterballen, Kastengels, Truffelworstje (Tip de maison: Montepulciano) …

I’ll miss Ter Brugge. She and I have rarely fallen out of company since I moved to Amsterdam for phase II. She has lifted the grey mornings when I did not know where to turn. She has provided inspiration for countless surges of writer’s block. But leases end and our time must close, save for awkward reunions when we exchange details of our current lives but give nothing of our interior away.

Meanwhile, and more quickly than expected, Café Ruis and I are in the throes of a budding romance. It is fresh and warm and effortlessly deep. I can feel her waking me up from artistic slumbers, comforting me when the creative spirit has died down. Being the night I choose to die in, the partner I prefer to walk with by day.

I think what I am trying to say is, I have an overly extensive relationship to coffee and the places in which I drink it.



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