Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Back in the cafe where snarl and i once ate a slow sunshine-soaked breakfast, i'm a little shell-shocked in the early evening clamour and hovering on the edge of loneliness as I try to work out how to spend my day off, my inbetween day in a series of meetings and workshops.

Museum wandering and gallery trawling isn't as enjoyable alone, without a co-conspirator to admire with, to mock with, to babble with. Solitary explorations are a wonder when you choose them, when the only whims you want to follow are your own. Sometimes the whole city unfolds its secrets to a lone traveller. Other times every corner glance strikes home the longing of separation.

A strange mixture of people in this vast windowed cafe where the yellow hanging lights are starting to overpower the green-grey of the evening. An old-school art boy, with grey tufts escaping from a faded baseball cap, makes soft pencil scrawl notes as he flicks between an english paper and a dutch one. A soft barrel in a denim shirt re-arranges strands across a miniscule bald patch and looks around to see if anyone is watching him not read The Economist. A young Japanese couple bicker. He lights a cigarette. She fiddles with a shiny red handbag and glares at the tiled floor. A slick-haired bloke mills around, gazing across tables for friends, tugging nervously at the zip tags on his unblemished leather jacket.

A scandavian rubs dry palms together, head-twisting for a waiter. Catching an eye, he relaxes and caresses his beard in anticipation and impatience. There's frantic conversation (all stabbing fingers and cartoon grimaces), slow magazine reading (where each paragraph is punctuated with a sigh and a sweeping glance across the canal) and a red-curled woman, her face tilted onto a gold-ringed hand, watching the smoke escape from the saggily rolled cigarette in the ashtray.

And walking along the canal in a rain-splattered darkening, past the shadowy tree-draped fat-bottomed houseboats, I'm overawed by the patchworks of glowing rooms: the overspills of geraniums from painted iron, the black-melted venetian mirrors angling down from vast white walls, the labyrinths of bookshelves, the sprawls of homework, the detritus of abandoned dinners, the languid cats wrapped around homemade sculptures. It's almost impossible to predict the insides from the size of the windows.

I miss snarl. I keep looking up to smile at him, to watch him readiing in the candlelight, but the chair is empty. I drink some more wine, smoke another cigarette and imagine the gleam of his skin. These will be three long nights in the soft white sheets overlooking the bridge.

These are difficult times: I am prickly and Snarl is sad. There are gaps between us where there needn't be the slightest chink of twilight. Evenings hold hesitant pauses rather than easy silence. I snap and bite for no reason, no cause but my own ill-temper. But still I can not, will not doubt the strength of this love. Though I wonder at my perverse need to test its edges. (My own paranoia, my resistance to the possibility of magic driving me to make scabs to pick?)

When my main desire is his happiness, why do I persist in making him miserable?

A plump man in shorts sings along: "you make me feel like a nat-ur-ral woman" but when they switch to Portishead, I want to cry.

And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain.

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