I’d been in Europe for two weeks, and I still hadn’t had that wow moment. The moment that’s supposed to jump out at you and say, “Hey! You’re in another country! Isn’t this amazing?!”
I’d been all over Luxembourg. I’d seen castles and mountains and loved every minute of it all, but I was still searching for that one moment.
Maybe my expectations were too high. I’d been to Europe two years ago and had glorified the memories in my head to the point of perfection. Or maybe I was so comfortable in Luxembourg that it just felt like home.
I arrived in Amsterdam on a misty Friday night with my friend, Alison. We headed out to explore the city despite the chance of rain. It was pitch black by 6:30 and the sidewalks were spotted with big puddles. I didn’t want my first memories of the city to be made in the dark. I was ready to go back to our hostel.
In my head, I had decided that I was sure to have my moment tomorrow. The second I saw the canals and the bikes in the daylight, I was bound to be amazed.
I’m a dreamer. I romanticize everything in my head. I build up extreme expectations for things and am almost always let down. I know this about myself, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming and romanticizing.
After dinner, Alison and I decided to head back to our hotel, but we wandered onto Dam Square by accident. It was beautiful. The whole square was lit up and filled with people. We had no clue where we were, but there was a huge building in front of us that we discovered was the Royal Palace. I told Alison that we had to come back the next day and see what it looks like in the daylight. I was ready to leave and get out of the cold.
But then, I saw bubbles. Hundreds of bubbles floating through the sky and across the front of the building. They sparkled in the light before disappearing into the night sky.
I followed the trail of bubbles back down to their source — a man with a long, scraggly beard and tan harem pants with two sticks held together by lines of string that formed a net of sorts in his hands. He had big headphones on and was rhythmically dipping the net into a vat of soap and swinging it around his head.
Kids were running around, giggling and popping bubbles. Their parents watched with big smiles and cameras in hand.
The kids yelled in different languages — English, Dutch and French — united by the common goal of popping as many bubbles as possible.
The man making the bubbles wasn’t asking for money like most entertainers found on city streets. He just dipped the net, swung it around and dipped the net again.
Alison and I stood watching and we both couldn’t help but smile.
On the opposite side of the square, a protest was taking place. The only sign I could read said “Mother Fucker” in crude, poorly painted letters.
The majority of people in the square were too fixated on the bubbles to even notice the protest.
I didn’t want to leave the square. I could have stayed and watched the bubbles and listened to the sound of elated kids all night. It was magical. It was perfect. And yet, it was so simple. It was my moment.