Home is a place you can tell about…(Photo: Bertolda)

Home is a place you can tell about…

He was a chubby kid. He wasn’t pretty but with one of those faces with regular features and intense eyes that will always let him find a girlfriend. I would look at him even with please if he wouldn’t have had his ass nailed on the bench. It’s dark, it’s cold and I’m eager to go home. I just still need to grab the two white benches outside the restaurant, place them inside at the entrance and close the door. But I cannot. There’s a fat kid sitting on the bench. He cannot see me, as I’m nestled in the gloom of the room, just two feet from him.

A panther in ambush, uncertain whether to attack or to wait for the hippo to go away. He stays and he shakes his head to say no. Someone outside of my sight must have told him to move. I slip in a tight smile and I open the door.

I think: he’s a tourist for sure… In which language should I talk to him?

“Do you remember babbo this morning, the guys that were swooping down the couch from the window?”

I think: Oh God no, no Italians, please…

But I say: “Here it’s common to climb down your furniture from the windows during a moving, did not you know?”

He turns towards me, with a chubby butt jump, but still sits down, still glued to the bench. He glanced at me, surprised for a second, with his fast eyes (you could see them even through his nape, from behind, those eyes), then he smiled, with an open mouth. He might be 10 years old, maybe older, he’s a tonnage of kid, hard to date.

I turn my back to him in order to scoop up the other bench, he will understand the language of the symmetries, I say to myself… One goes, the other follows…


He stands up but he doesn’t move. His mother, a young woman with a thin and pretty face, looks at me and smiles awkwardly. She shrugs her shoulders and she shows me the palms of her hands. What she wants to say is: I’m sorry, you’re fucked.

“Don’t be silly”! I like this hippo from Tuscany. He’s not afraid of strangers.

“Have you ever seen how the buildings nearby the canals look inside? Their stairs are very narrow and steep, like this…” I shape my free arm in a sort of sharp angle. If I would have had my arm outstretched, I would have looked as in the middle of a Nazi salute. My fingers shrink as soon as I formulate this thought.

“Do you see over there? There are pulleys block where the two edges of the roof combine. The windows are that big not only to gather more light as possible, but even to allow the furniture to pass through. Have you noticed that few of these buildings hang a bit forward? In this way the furniture will not crash against the walls”.

His father, a good-looking man with a pair of lightweight framed glasses and a shaved head, lights a cigarette. Not a good sign. The woman was right: I’m fucked. Now this shorty will not leave me alone anymore.

I place the bench that I had still under my arm in front of him, I sit down and I start to tell him about this town. I see in the black of his irises the vortex of wonder and excitement of my first year in Amsterdam. My vortex, now, is a puddle of calm water, with frog eggs and half flooded shrubs.
I tell myself it’s time to call this town home.

Amsterdam channel houses

“Have you ever seen how the buildings nearby the canals look inside? Their stairs are very narrow and steep, like this…” (Photo: Bertolda)

Marco Alf