I’ve wanted to write this short piece for
some time. Ever since I first read ‘Een Voet Tussen de Deur”. This book
history of the squatting movement in the Netherlands, it is one of the
inspiring factual books I’ve read.
There was one sentence in particular that really caught my attention. I don’t remember the exact location or phrasing but the gist of it was:
“That little bit more, is often all that’s needed to make great things happen.”
I’ve often had ‘cause to remember that
sentence, both in my personal life and when it comes to squatting.
Eric van Duivenvoorden, the author of the aforementioned book was trying to illustrate that time and time again a bit of extra effort, militancy, preparation, thinking, action or whatever has meant the difference between total failure and utter success.
When I’ve gone squatting I have noticed the same effect. There have been many times when we thought we would be (wrongfully) evicted. In the majority of those instances it was our resolve and willingness to go the extra mile (or even meter) that turned things around.
Above all good communication (with ourselves, cops, owners) and preparation (tools, skills etc) was instrumental in us “winning the day”.
I think this phenomenon not only applies to squatting but to almost every aspect of my life, including my love life.
To use another quote “Shyness is nice, and Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life You'd like to” –‘Ask’, The Smiths.”
Instead of Shyness one could also substitute “Coyness”, “Fear”, “Negativity” or “Laziness” of course.
In my love life there have been some times
that I decided to “go for it” just telling a girl straight out how I
her. Half of the time this worked out great, the other times I crashed
But I really don’t mind those “failures”.
They never really felt as failures. More often than not, me being so
forward would get me a response quickly. This meant I wouldn’t have to
wonder or fantasize any more. The funny things is that on more than one
occasion that response not only gave me clarity but also put the girl
question in a totally new light.
Sometimes I would find out I had given the girl (way) too much credit, that I had made her more special or attractive in my head than she actually was. It is easy to idealize someone if you are physically attracted to them and don’t know them that well.
But the way someone responds to another person putting their feelings out there and his heart on the line, tells you a lot about them.
Those few times the girl in question
responded (very) insensitively, indiscreetly or weirdly (girls, you
you are ha ha!) it actually almost felt like a relief. A relief that
would come of it and that I wouldn’t be dating someone that is actually
worth my time or attention after all!
Sure it is a little disappointing, but i get over that quickly.
On the flip side, i have also twice experienced what can happen if one is passive, shy, scared or coy and lets things slide. I was fifteen, i was a alternative/metal dude with long hair, into moshing, black army clothes, etc. More than anything in the world i wanted a girlfriend. It was weekend and thus i was hanging out at the local alternative/punk club with two female school friends that i lived with at the time.
I was basically having a great time, the DJ was cranking out NIN, Punk, Nirvana, Gothic Stuff, Eighties, Ska... all the good stuff. Hence i was (slam)dancing most of the night and largely oblivious to my surroundings. Like many others at the club I and the two schoolmates lived in a nearby suburban town. That meant I had to make sure i caught the last homebound train. I was basically leaving, in fact i had just started walking towards the exit. Then in mid stride i felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turned around. I was staring at a beautiful (slender, fair skin, short dark hair) girl my age who then proceeded to beam an amazing smile at me. She exclaimed: "i think you are a beautiful guy!". Then she waited...
I was flabbergasted, dumbfounded, overwhelmed and overjoyed. So what did i do you ask....? In my confusion (and to my later total embarrassment and horror) i did that which a severely confused and bewildered 15 year old metalhead might do...
I said nothing, gave her the two fingered satan sign plus silly lop-sided grin and stalked out to catch my train!!! Talk about Beavis and Butthead! How i loathed myself later ha ha!
It didn't end there however, in fact it gets worse. Right after we boarded our train my friends and i went to look for a more comfortable place to sit. We found a place in between two compartments. As we walked in guess who i saw sitting on the floor of the very same space... Yes it was her.
During the ride i talked nervously to my friends but i
sneaked a few looks at her sitting
there. She looked back and smiled shyly yet invitingly.
Then we got to our station and i -the utter fool that i
got out and looked back to see her giving me her beautiful smile once
more. The doors closed and this girl from Mars rode on to wherever she
I did go back to the club for 2 or 3 straight weeks after, trying desperately to find her. But of course the girl was nowhere to be found. Upon reflection i figured out that she must have been watching me and had seen something she liked. Perhaps that i was dancing with total abandon (it really was a good night) and seemed to be having a great time all by myself (my friends were there but sat on the sidelines). Perhaps she just liked my looks enough to have the courage to stop me before i stalked out. Either way it would definately suggest she was rather brave and bold, unlike 15 year old me.
Fate tempted and grace beckoned twice within the hour and
i turned away from it twice. It was my own lack of confidence,
experience, shyness as well as an abundance of embarrassment that made
me both freeze and flee.
The other encounter with the fair and willing kind occurred that same year. I was at school hanging out with a girl which i thought was extra-ordinary. Iris was very beautiful, intelligent, nonjudgmental, athletic and especially kind. In short she was my dream girl at the time and i developed a crush on her from the very first day i set foot in that school. I intensely admired her from a slight distance for over thee years.
We became friends of sorts. We shared a revulsion for most of the other pupils with a few very notable exceptions. We deemed our peers as vulgar, shallow and judgmental (i still hold that opinion on them actually). We had some interests in common and shared quite some good moments and a few friends.
Then one beautiful spring day we were sitting under and against a tree in the school yard. We got to talking about relationships. We talked about what we didn't want and what we were looking for. Then she said that the people in the school had all the qualities she wasn't looking for but that she would really like a nice and intelligent boyfriend...... As her voice dropped off she looked straight at me in a very meaningful way and then blushed and averted her gaze.... Once again i took no action and just looked away, although inwardly i was on cloud nine and in utter turmoil at the same time. During the rest of our time together at school nothing developed between us other than our friendship. There were many signs in her behaviour that she was looking for "that special someone" and there was absolutely no reason why that couldn't have been me. Except that i was too chicken shit to take a step in her direction.
Years later i tried -twice even- to get in touch with Iris to let her know my feelings. Due to circumstance i never did manage talk to her. One day i hope to still be able to tell her all this. Obviously not because i expect to live together forever after, but just because it would feel good for myself to finally say it.
For some years i beat myself up over both those situations! Then i forgave myself realizing that at 15 my inexperience and lack of courage was understandable. I realized:
“The Race is Long and in the end it is only with yourself"
(The Sunscreen Song)
However i did vow i would never again let something like
that happen to me again! I have kept this vow.
If i were to find myself in a similar situation these
days i would simply plant a determined yet tender kiss on the girl. In
fact one or two situations somewhat like the ones i mention presented
themselves later and i did the right thing! In the end I did have to
wait until i
was almost eighteen before i had my first serious girlfriend though ha
ha. Youth IS wasted on the young.
I guess squatting and dating have in common that they have inherent (small) risks, on first glance these risks may seem huge and insurmountable. But for me, they are well worth taking!