Mansion Point Student Residence
Tuesday 17th, March 2020
You’re honoured. This is the first letter I’ve written in my life! Though I did once write to a pen-pal as a kid. Thank goodness I did the main museums when I first arrived in Amsterdam at the start of March, because last Thursday they closed the Rijksmuseum the Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank House. Remember the diary of Anne Frank from school? It’s such a shame, Amsterdam is such a beautiful city but everything is going quiet now. I’ll get some more pics up on Insta.
I’ve not been following what’s going on with all this Covid-19 but a couple of days ago the Dutch prime minister was talking about an ‘intelligent lockdown’. Mum and Dad are saying I should come home, but I’ve really been getting into my dissertation. Somehow the history of art is all around you here. People are starting to get edgy and I am starting to get worried about flights since they stopped planes from Asia last week.
But it’s the personal stuff I wanted to tell you about. You know I said this was going to be my ‘self-discovery’ tour. Well it’s happened. I’ve found out a lot about myself. I haven’t been feeling nervous, or scared, or insecure. I’ve been the tranquillity queen! And no it’s not the kush - you know I’m not into that.
I asked my Mum what she remembered about living in Amsterdam, but she didn’t remember anything - she was only three when she left. My Nan and Gramps (Marese and Joseph - not the Irish ones), had lived in Badhoevedorp near Schiphol airport, but there wasn’t anything to see when I got there. What I did realise was that all of my ancestors were from countries that had been colonies. The Moluccan in me was from a Dutchcolony. The Caribbean in me from a British colony. And the Irish in me from an English colony. It’s weird but kind of normal.
You know what’s really weird though? It doesn’t make me angry, or feel dispossessed, or those things you’re supposed to feel. It makes me feel connected. Like I could go to any part of the world and there’d be some connection. Even in Africa! I’m a global citizen! I belong to the world and the world belongs to me. Lol.
But that’s not even the weirdest thing. I brought some family memorabilia my Mum had from her dad and there’s this crumpled airmail letter on thin blue paper. It’s from my three-times-great grandmother Betty to my great grandfather. Her writing is so tiny, but there’s a line where she’s telling him off, though you know she loves him and she writes “you vex me.” My Mum says that to me all the time! It’s come down the generations and across the nations in my family.
See you soon sweetie. Back in a week.
You vex me! xxxx
Tulipa Bed & Breakfast
1017 PM Amsterdam