Although not much of an “evening guy” these days when traveling, more often than not preferring to sit in my hotel room at night, reading a book or watching a movie on my Ipad, there was, indeed, a time when I needed to get out and sample the nightlife. That impulse is what leads me and my friend Cinni to the Melkweg on my first trip to Amsterdam. Dutch for “the Milky Way,” the Melkweg is a retro-industrial, multi-story entertainment complex housed in a former dairy. As a 21-year-old foreign exchange student on his first overseas journey, I have never been to a place quite like this, with its 4 music halls, its cinema, its restaurant, and its exhibition space.

After paying my entry fee, I find myself feeling a little peckish so I wander over to the snack bar. Hmm, that “space cake” looks pretty tempting. Space cake, Milky Way, I get it. Cute. A quick nibble confirms my first impression; this is a yummy little slice of banana bread, with some other flavor that I can’t quite place. No matter; I scarf the whole thing down and then start wandering around. Like an edgy cruise ship, the Melkweg is built for hanging out, with cushy chairs and couches everywhere, and little landings built into the main staircase where you can chat or canoodle privately with others. If you want to rave at a concert, you can do that. If you prefer a glass of wine and an art movie, go for it. It’s all there in one multi-pleasure building. As a variety junky, I love this place. About an hour into my stay at the Melkweg, however, I start feeling a little strange, a little altered shall we say. Careening down the stairs, I stumble over to the snack bar and ask the attendant, “What was in these space cakes?” A tall thin Dutch guy with MANY piercings, he responds, “Hashish.” Ah… “space cake” is now taking on a whole new meaning! Now, you gotta understand that, when talking about drugs, I come from a fairly conservative household. Up until this trip to Amsterdam, I’ve never in fact even tried marijuana, let alone consumed edible hashish with its heightened potency. I know, this all sounds very quaint in our age of neighborhood pot dispensaries, but at age 21, I literally have no idea what it feels like to be high. Thank goodness that I have my friend Cinni with me, otherwise I have no idea how I’m getting home by myself. Do we walk? Do we take a taxi. I really have no memory of the rest of the evening. All I recall is thinking, how interesting that I can thread myself through the eye of a needle. Isn’t there something like that in the Bible? ie. “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Well, I am that camel!

It’s good to have friends!

(Friends are great for sharing the good times, but how valuable are they for saving your caboose during times of trouble! Text or call a friend today and tell them “Thank you for that time you_________ [fill in the blank]”. Cinni didn’t come to Amsterdam with me, planning to cart her stoned buddy back to the hotel. But she did it, without complaint. We should never take our friends for granted! And we should strive to be great friends as well!)