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The way we were

published: 2009-10-04

This morning, a large group of people gathered in our street. They decided to squat the house opposite ours because it had been for sale for over 1,5 years, and empty. One girl with bouncy, curly hair, rozy cheeks and who wearing a second-hand leather jacket eagerly rushed towards anyone passing, handed them print outs. The print-out was meant to explain why they were squatting that house. Some talk of an A-B-C structure and a new owner redoing the place solely in order to make loads of money. As it’s hard to find housing for students in Amsterdam, these students feel they have a right to squat it. Somehow, the logic of this fails me. Is it because it’s been too long ago since I was a student?

They let the bad guys do the dirty work. Five creepy looking men over fourty, skinheads with caps on and pierced noses, blood-shot eyes, forced their way through the doors and violently tore down the ‘for sale’ signs. The students were nervous, but managed not to giggle.
A few hours later I returned to the street. They had tied a sheet to their balconies. The sheet reads “I am a student, therefore I squat.” Friendly looking members of the bourgeois, 18 year olds, zoomed in and out of the house unto the balconies of every floor. With beers. You could tell they were still expecting the police. Hoping for it maybe. A few of them flaunt side-burns or a Castro cap. The odd Palestinian shawl. By now, most girls were indeed giggling. Nothing happened. Simply more cheery students arrived on bikes.
Come nightfall. No electricity, no lights, no curtains. They sit there, on the floors of the ice-cold apartments that are not theirs. By now the guy with the Palestinian shawl may be wondering if they’re actually having to go through with this. The armed forced they were intending to blame for ruining it all, did not show up. Will not, is my thinking. Despite all this, I am worried for them. I fear for that moment in time when naivity is unveiled and what remains is cynicism.

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