Clickety-clack goes the keyboards behind me, dozens of busy heads tilted, focusing on the work that lay ahead. Im sitting in a refuge of warmth, the Library. Outside the gauge will read somewhere below zero… where exactly the needle lies is arbitrary to me, from here on in, it’s just FUCKING COLD. Traveling, as you all know, forces you to face many challenges, comfort zones and strengths, and I have become well adapted to living in a state of instability… not really ‘missing’ “home”, wherever that may be, understanding that all things are fluid and friends and family will come again. But the weather. Oh the how i miss the weather. Dreams of hot summer days, the sun sparkling on our salty skins, the birds and the bees (and the cigarette trees?). Australian summer will never be found here.
And yet, here is where I am, and here I shall call home. There are friends and loved ones holding little pockets of space warm for me, and as was said to me upon my arrival, months ago now: “where the sun always shines in the hearts of the people”.
For six months I’ve been couch-surfing, officially and unofficially, from home to home, life to life and heart to heart. Sharing fragments of people’s worlds for days or weeks, exchanging stories and building on this one world culture we all belong to. Fitting then, that I shall be resting my weary body now in a place known as ‘THE COUCH’.
A town called Leiden, 30 mins from the infamous Dutch capital, and a group of people I call beautiful. Dreamers, anarchists, squatters, hippies, punks, whatever the labels, none will categorize them all. My home for now is an ex-pub, squatted by two belle boys, almost as many years ago. Inside, the walls are layered with treasures, posters and stickers on most flat surfaces, objects of art telling more stories than a lifetime could listen to. Madame Wednesday brings us the eating cafe, a vegan, dumpstered dinner shared and relished by all fairies and friends who attend. The crisp, clean air outside, however cold, brings a feeling of calmness and the blanket of white hushes all sounds.
Our fingers frozen from digging in skips, my toes numb, it’s with a shaking hand that we open the big metal door and slip inside. It bangs shut behind us, slapping the winter chill across the face, posting a sign “NO ENTRY”. We’re home. It’s definitely no Aussie summer, but at least its above zero.