Late December, 2002, Haarlem:
It was an early December morning when I slowly opened my eyes and with relief found myself in my own bed. Most of the night before was a messy blur of memories lost in a mix of alcohol. It had been a heavy night of unplanned drinking. My head should have been killing me but it felt fine. Even my stomach felt fine. I didn’t think about it too much. I was just happy the ordeal was over. I could relax.
But then I noticed something very odd indeed…
Flash Back – The Night Before, Amsterdam, Office Christmas Party:
It was the night of the office Christmas party. The festivities had not been planned too well but there was lots of free booze which was all anyone really cared about. For the few hours that the party lasted I drank far more champagne, beer and wine then was intelligent. I don’t really remember how the party ended but I found out later I had started dancing towards the train station (occasionally slipping on ice) with a few co-workers. When we got there I had missed my last train but they put me in a cab and sent me on my way home. The journey passed by in a blur but the driver got me back to Haarlem. This might sound very straightforward and like a bit of a boring story but it does not end there.
I remember trying to use a cash machine so I could pay the driver but I was far too drunk to operate the buttons. I must have told him I would be able to give him the money at my house because I then remember driving around Haarlem again. What I couldn’t remember at the time were the directions to my house.
Eventually the driver must have gotten annoyed with my drunken foolishness and kicked me out because after another memory blank spot I found myself in the middle of an unknown part of Holland. For all I knew I could have been in Germany but it was more likely that I was somewhere between Amsterdam and Haarlem. To this day I don’t really know where I was.
I walked for what felt like miles without knowing where I was going. Despite another memory blank I somehow ended up back in Amsterdam, right back where everything had started. How could I be lost in Amsterdam again? In my drunken brain I came up with the idea of taking a night bus home. It seemed perfect. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? So I got on a bus, a random bus. A short while into the journey the rational side of my brain some how managed to surface to tell me the bus was not going anywhere near home. All I could do was wait for the bus to complete its route.
An hour or two and another memory blank spot later I ended lost in Amsterdam for the second time. I then had the idea of getting a train to a familiar station closer to home and trying to get back from there. It was not a perfect plan but at least it was a plan. Unfortunately even this basic plan fell apart when I missed the stop and got off at the wrong station only to be told there would be no more trains for another four hours. On the upside I would not end up back in Amsterdam again any time soon (I was getting sick of the sight of the place) but on the down side I had no clue where I was either.
I tried to sleep on a bench but was kept awake by a slight pain in my ankle. A few hours later the trams started to run again (before the trains) so I got one back to Amsterdam which was now starting to seem like the city of the dammed that victims could never escape from no matter how hard they tried. By this time I was more sober but staying awake was a battle. The good thing was the trains to Haarlem had finally started running again. I was so happy. The end was in sight. It had been almost eight hours since I had left the party. When I got off the train in Haarlem I limped home and banged on the front door till one of my flat mates let me in (I had lost my keys somewhere). I climbed up to my room, fell in to bed and closed my eyes. It was finally over…. Or was it.
Back To – Late December, 2002, Haarlem:
It was an early December morning when I slowly opened my eyes and with relief found myself in my own bed. Most of the night before was a messy blur of memories lost in a mix of alcohol. It had been a heavy night of unplanned drinking. My head should have been killing me but it felt fine. Even my stomach felt fine. I didn’t think about it too much. I was just happy the ordeal was over. I could relax…
But then I noticed something very odd indeed… My hangover was in my foot.
I pulled back the covers and saw that my ankle was swollen up like a water balloon. As I had become more sober during the nightmare trip home I had also become aware of a pain in my ankle. At the time I thought I had simply twisted it a little. However, a trip to the hospital confirmed that I had in fact broken my ankle. I felt very embarrassed when I had to tell the doctor that I could not recall how I had done it. I found out later that it had happened while I had been dancing and slipping on the ice. My co-workers said I was complaining that my foot hurt when they helped me back up but I had insisted I was fine to go home. So not only was I drunk but I was most likely in shock too. In total I had spent almost eight hours lost in Holland, drunk and walking around on a broken ankle.
For the following two months I had to keep my leg in a cast. I have never gotten drunk at an office Christmas party since or gotten lost in Amsterdam so spectacularly again. If this story seems hard to believe I can assure you that every fact (that I can remember) is true. One important thing the whole experience taught me is nothing in the world feels as good as putting on a clean pair of socks for the first time after having your foot in a cast for two months.