Book excerpt


When Dreams are Calling
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 A Rose in Amsterdam

In search for happiness I went astray
To learn my lessons, play and pray,
But here I was time and again,
Her blood was running through my veins,
And so, I went to say Hello,
Bongiorno, Buna or Bonjour,
To mother Europe: love toujours!

Whenever I need inspiration and courage, I travel: for a few days, for a few weeks, for a few months, for whatever it takes.

I travel to confront and forget my old worries, fears, and even hopes and forge new ones, to shed my own skin and let a new layer take over, to find the answers I am looking for, the path which I lost.

I travel because when I travel I feel life is beautiful.

Sometimes I go far away, to meet cultures different than my own, to learn words I can barely pronounce. Other times, I miss home, I miss Europe.

Europe is my old friend, my beloved mother, my ideal lover. It’s my refuge, my escape from the storms, my place to rejoice and to rest.

And now, after I quit my job and I was unsure of what I wanted to do next, it was time for me to pay it a visit. A long three months visit.

Like always, I did not know if I would find in Europe whatever answers I was looking for, but something told me I had to go. Jessica’s mourning process was also taking a toll on her and so, she decided to join me for the first two weeks.

“Wake up, sleepy head!” Jessica screamed at me.

“Just go away! I was dreaming.”

“Like it wouldn’t be enough you dream during the day, now you have to dream during the night too! What were you dreaming about?”

“We were renting a small house with a boat beside the river in Giethoorn, the Venice of Holland. After a delicious breakfast in an open-air cafe on the shores of the Bosphorus, we went hiking around Lake Como in Italy, then straight into the Ice Caves in Austria. We spent the afternoon swimming and watching the sunset over the wineries in Corniglia, Cinque Terre, listening to the loud, lively Italians. We went for lunch in Salzburg to have a garlic soup and then to a Parisian fancy cafe which serves a delicious beef tartar. We spent the night on a boat in Monaco, and fell asleep caressed by the waves crashing on the shore.”

“Wow! Weren’t we busy? You got the first bit almost right.”

“What do you mean?” I said, trying hard to wake up while my head was spinning. Then, I saw on the table some cheese with figs and mustard.

“Welcome to Amsterdam! Welcome to free love, to avant-garde music and art, to Cannabis Cup and intriguing sex shops, to red cubicles and flamboyant women, to narrow canals and gay pride,” Jessica exclaimed turning on the twenty-four-seven unlimited porn channel. “We arrived yesterday morning and you have slept almost twenty four hours. It must have been the jet lag! But now that you’re finally awake, you’d better stay like that! As long as I’m here, we’ll have a blast!”

For the next two weeks, we roamed the streets of Amsterdam, waking up before the roosters and collapsing late at night with a new list with must sees for the following day.

“I know why all those people are happy here! It’s the pills!” she told me one day, happy like a baby finally catching Santa in the act.

“The contraception pills, you mean?” I made fun of her statement.

“Those too. But look here, miracle pills!” she pointed to a store displaying hundreds of pills colorfully packed. “Wow! That’s a lot of pills! Let’s go in! We might need a few!”

“Knowing which one is the one for us will be tricky though!”

Holding a shiny package, Jessica started to read out loud: “If you never want to get off the sofa, this is for you!”

“Why someone would never want to get off the sofa?”

“I don’t know. It looks like the pill promotes a blissful slow painless death. Not the right one for us. But, look here: Aquarius, the cosmic experience. Aren’t you an Aquarius? That might explain your hot episodes with your Stallion.”

“Guilty as charged. And if you’re so curious, just try me. You might not need this pill after all,” I said laughing at her.

“If I’ll try you, I’ll definitely not need that pill over there!” she laughed back pointing to the contraception shelves.

“But, just in case I might be too much for you, you might need a condom! So, which one should it be? The black cactus with spines all over for intense pleasure or itchiness or the daring dragon? Or maybe you fancy a tiny mouse for your future husband? The bicycle and the windmill if he is Dutch, the pumpkin or the golf ball if he is an American lost in the clouds?” I asked, showing her the tons of condoms coming in all kinds of size, shape and design to protect the knight for the night.

“Perhaps the Christmas tree with the elk for festive occasions or the romantic heart condom in case he decides to propose to me in the heat of the moment?”

“Why not the one with the clock if he’s married with his business or just with someone else?”

“If that’s the case, I won’t need a condom at all. Anyway, how could we possibly know the right size?”

“Put it this way: if we buy a condom that’s too small for him, we chose the right guy. But, if we buy one that’s too big, in this case, maybe we should skip the affair altogether.”

“And then, I’ll have no choice than coming back to you, for that Aquarius cosmic experience.

“You got it! Behind any lesbian stands an impotent man!”

“Look here, How to use a condom: keep the condom away from the light and heat.”

“Why? Will it melt? What should one do when in the middle of a poppy field, in one of those hot summer days when all you need is love? Wait for those cold nights of winter and in the meantime keep it in the fridge?”

“Hahaha! Dora, listen to the next one, it’s even less enticing: Don’t have intercourse with a condom for too long.”

“Define too long. Plus, we’re usually in no danger for this to happen…”

“Unfortunately… You don’t like Woody Allen’s movies, right?” Jessica asked me, suddenly changing the topic.

“No, not really. I feel either depressed or stupid after watching any of them. None of those states of mind are quite a happy ending for me.”

“You might start to like him more. Read here what the maestro said: ‘Is sex dirty? Only when it’s done right.’

“Or with the shoes on,” I responded.

“Or another one: ‘Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone you love.’

“Or you hate!” I fired back.

“You really don’t like Woody Allen!”

“I told you…I dislike with the same passion I like.”

“Then I’d better make sure you continue to like me, Miss Aquarius!”

“You’d better, Miss Leo!”

On our last day in Amsterdam, we were walking back home when we saw a man in the distance leaving a red rose and an envelope on our doorstep. Then, he left in a hurry.

We ran and full of curiosity and excitement opened the envelope: “For Dora, Never give up on love,” signed: Tomás. There was no last name, no address, no telephone number.

We followed him to a small café where violins were playing and baskets of colorful flowers were hanging by the door. But we were too late. He was gone. We lost him.

“Leave a message for him with the waitress. He might return. You never know, he might be your next stallion,” Jessica said, amused of the whole thing.

“I don’t want another stallion!”

“Then tell him what you want! Tell him he has to feel right with the emphasis on feel,” she continued, starting to moan softly in my ears.

“You’re a pain, has anybody told you?”

“And you’re a hotty disguised as a nun! Do it and let’s get it over with! Tomorrow when I’ll go back to Australia, I want to know I left you in good hands!”

And so I did. I left my message to him with the waitress, just in case he might return:

“I don’t just date. I’m looking for my soul mate. I don’t pamper! I don’t build and ruin dreams! I am what you see! I think what you hear! I can’t stand rogues or clowns! I look for a real man, one who admits his mistakes and brags about his achievements, who knows what he wants and is not afraid to admit it; who has the courage to love and the strength to leave when love is gone!

Come and meet me! You will either adore me or hate me! You will either be sick of me or never tired of me! Let’s plunge together into the unknown, and emerge forever victorious! I will take the TGV tomorrow to Paris. Dora”

And this is when a new chapter of my life began.

Dora’s Journal Notes

  • Sometimes, a rose on our doorstep seems to be all we struggle for.