Puddles of Munt
The day’s first light peered across the field of overgrown bush and tin sheds that made up the shitty view from our balcony. She took a drag of the joint I had just rolled and exhaled, gentle furrows forming over her pretty face.
“I always feel so skanky, still being up at sunrise.”
The sun shone behind her, illuminating every strand of hair and creating a subtle glow across the sky and everything within it. I wanted to tell her that this morning was beautiful, and so was she, and to lay a kiss on her head – but it was at that point she turned around to face the view. Instead, I was voiceless as she passed the joint, and we stood smoking in silence, punctuated only by the sound of burning bud.
We shuffled into bed and she rolled away from me, my hand on her waist eventually brushed aside.
Amy and I met nearly a year ago in Amsterdam. She had just left the UK to start her semester abroad; I had finished mine, and was looking for a job so I could put off returning to Australia. On our first night together, I had taken her out to my idea of a trendy small bar, followed by the seedy local, conveniently located three floors below the room I was staying in.
“You’re a cool chick,” I mumbled afterwards.
“I know,” she said, yanking on the blanket and falling asleep.
Several months later, we were in the throes of our final week before heading home, a mad rush to take in the most of the city, and each other. We hadn’t known each other for long, so every moment together was still pretty damn exciting. However, the condensation of time that occurs when travelling – that increased ratio of time spent in each other’s company when you have no prior commitments to distract you – laid down a sense of familiarity. We laughed at secret jokes, poked fun at our differences, and would run to find each other when certain songs played at parties.
The day before she left, she showed up at my door with peanut butter and Nutella. I wanted to stay in bed, but the smell of toast and her promise of more food had me up and enjoying the sunshine. We perched ourselves in Westerpark, surrounded by Mango CoolBest juice and these 2-euro cheese pie things from the supermarket. I rested my head on her stomach while she stroked my hair.
“You know I feel calm around you? Like I’m not my usual, stressful self,” she said.
“That’s funny. You remind me that it’s nice to have my shit together sometimes.”
“You always make like you’re lazy and never get anything done, but you know that’s not true. You’ve done a lot, dude.”
I looked up at her, big stupid smile painted all over my face. It lasted a second.
“What do you think’s going to happen to us – after you leave?” I hesitated. “Do you think we’ll see each other again?”
“I reckon we will. I don’t know where or when, but I think we will.”
She was beaming as she said this.
I was seated at my desk, laptop in front of me but rolling a cigarette, her face on the bottom right corner of my screen.
“Morning,” I chirped.
“Ugh. I just had another dream you were here with me.”
“Isn’t that a good dream?”
“It was. But now I’m awake and you’re there and I’m here.”
I put the cigarette down and put her on full-screen, looking deep into her bright blue, yet virtual eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” she yawned. “Anyway, what did you get up to today?”
Nine months after our goodbye in Amsterdam – nine months after she flew back to the UK and I to Australia – I found myself on the way back to the airport. After nine months of gritting our teeth through shitty internet connections and mistimed naps, I was on my way to England to see her again, and instead of excitement, I was absolutely shitting it.
When I arrived, there was no grand moment of reunion, no running back to each other’s arms in slow-mo, no conclusion to those months spent in suspended confusion. It had been a long fucking time since we were in each other’s physical presence, and it showed. We were amicable, like long-time friends are, but as those friends tend to do in each other’s absence, we had grown into different spaces. We endeavoured to keep looking at the positive side of things.
Two weeks later, we returned to Amsterdam with four of my closest friends, three of whom I had met during my first semester on exchange. The mediation of other people’s company helped immensely, and as we walked down those cobblestone streets with the smell of winter in the air, a rush of memories came running back. I threw my hands out in front of me, using my fingers to frame a square around Amy.
“This may sound weird, but you make more sense as a person when I can see Amsterdam in the background,” I said.
“I know exactly what you mean.”
Later that night we found ourselves with a bag of chemical joy and tickets to new club in Amsterdam North. It all felt so familiar, hanging with that fabulous troupe of people with MDMA coursing through my system – whether dancing in a dark room covered in each other’s sweat, or talking shit in the smoking room all together in a puddle of munt, it all felt right. Alone on the dancefloor, Amy and I sashayed towards each other and met once again with a kiss.
We returned to our apartment several hours past midnight, still rolling, still rapt in each other’s stories. We smoked and chatted, reminiscing on a night that was still going. After the others went to bed, Amy and I were left alone again, realising that we couldn’t sleep yet. We stood on our balcony, sharing a joint as the sun rose.
I was coming down already, and knew that the intimacy we shared earlier in the night was disappearing. It felt right because we had found ourselves in that space so many times before – dancing, and on drugs – but we were no longer truly there. At the time this realisation manifested in panic, a pathetic attempt to hold on and convince ourselves that we could return to where we were before. Amy was more headstrong about it. She always knew what she wanted, and this wasn’t it anymore. It was useless arguing.
Later that week, we left Amsterdam with the sense that we wouldn’t be returning. It was early morning, and I was grateful that she was walking me to the coach stop. I ambled through, wearing a thick jacket that would soon be forgotten under the Sydney sun.
“You’re a cool chick,” I said.
“I’m really not. I’m so sorry – about everything.”
I turned and looked deep into her bright blue eyes for the last time before heading on the bus.
“It’s not your fault.”
Cover by Jen Palmer