that glow, those tears

Last night didn’t end in mobs, rioting, or hysteria – just an incredibly crushing, silencing disappointment. That does not, however, mean that it wasn’t the best night of my life.

I left the house at about 5 PM, and the finals were scheduled for 8:30. I had just been texted by a few friends I’d met at the semis, Dutch girls who were on their way to check out the crowd of 200,000 that was beginning to form in Museumplein. I really wasn’t sure of how to get there, where to transfer, which tram I should jam myself into…..but it was enough to know to follow the orange. And the bicycles. And the orange bicycles.

Honestly, the way the city was coming to life was incredible…The sun crept past the zenith  just as the lurid citrus leis, tophats, and jerseys emerged into the streets of Amsterdam. The closer I got to Museumplein, the denser (and drunker…in the happiest possible way!) the crowd became.

K’naan’s “Waving Flag” and Shakira’s anthem for Africa blared from the loudspeakers of Museumplein as the fans roared along, singing these inspiring world cup anthems with as much fervor as they would their own, minutes later. Helicopters buzzed overhead, catching feed for international news agencies and spraying truckloads of confetti over the masses. Vuvuzelas trumpeted the call to battle, troops gathered on the vast Museumplein field, and eager soldier that I was, I just had to get a look at the action ahead. People were climbing onto traffic lights, the metro station, electrical boxes….one of my favorite shots (hypothetical shots, seeing as I left my camera behind to avoid its ruin. Completely unnecessary, and I haven’t stopped kicking myself) was actually of the setting sun highlighting the group of teens that had clambered up unto the port-a-potties, ruling the world in the most ironic way possible. Disgusting as it might sound, the golden rays and the swaying sea of orange-blossom bodies framed them in an unimaginable way…

Anyway, a kind Dutch boy at the back of the crowd helped me to up to his perch on a possibly high-voltage fixture in the street….that 10-second view – a sun-drenched mass at once undulating, transient, charged, yet solid – was easily the most incredible to ever have graced my eyes.

Wending my way through the throng soon after, just as the sun was dipping below the pointed roof of Concertgebouw, I found that I’d never actually realized what it felt like to be a part of a crowd of that magnitude – for one thing, you are truly a cog in a machine immense, immeasurable. The energy is infectious, enthusiasm is rampant, and every cheering blonde and flag-hoisting fanatic is your best, best friend. It’s chaos – but somehow calm. The mustaches painted on in Holland stripes of red, white, and blue, the headdresses of Pippy Longstocking braids – these are the details that flash past,  bathed in a halo of the purest sunset as you fight your way to a view of the mega screens. Though you are one in a crowd of thousands and thousands, one or two faces are all you can see. And, when for an instant the bodies align (or the stars), you see the hundreds and hundreds of faces and faces that led them to this spot, where they are facing you.

That sun was the last Amsterdam would see. Tears streaming down from the heavens is a little bit Major Motion Picture, but I swear to you, it’s been raining all day from these murky, threatening skies. And unfortunately, this time it isn’t confetti falling from the clouds. Or Heineken.


1 Response to “that glow, those tears”

  1. 1 Amanda
    July 19, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    beautiful. your words paint pictures, gorgeous pictures and feelings, my dear, almost as if you had, indeed, captured them in snap shots.

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