It’s clean up time!

I’m travelling a lot this month. I went to Delft for a few days at the beginning of June, yesterday I got back from Leipzig where I spent the weekend visiting friends, and Friday I’m going to Canada for a couple of weeks. Between one vacation and the other, I took some time to clean up my wardrobe. Now I’ve a box full of old clothes, or clothes not-so-old but that I never use.

Today I’ve done a bit of “spring cleaning” (or summer cleaning I should say) also on this blog. I’ve updated the about page, as one more year has gone by since my graduation. And I’ve removed the postaday tag along with the postaday widget. I must admit that this idea of blogging once a day didn’t work out very well, but that’s ok.

Next on the list is the balcony. After a spring full of flowers – tulips and hyacinths – I’ve now a bunch of empty pots. My plan of having some herbs also didn’t work out… Maybe when we come back from Canada I can do something about it.

And while I think about tidying up around me, I shouldn’t forget there’s something else that needs to be sorted out, fixed and reorganized: me.

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The cruellest month

Canada. 2007. It’s a bright afternoon at the end of August. You check your email, and there’s a message from a friend you haven’t been hearing from for a few weeks. She is writing you about another friend, whom you haven’t been seeing for about a year.

You’ll never see her again.

You go away from the computer, in shock. You want to go outside. You want to breathe. You want to put air in your lungs, but your body has somehow forgot how to breathe. You have to go outside, you have to breathe. It doesn’t seem real, does it? It didn’t really happen, did it? It’s a dream, now you’re going to wake up.

But it is real. It did happen. She did do it.

You start breathing again, but it still feels unreal. A dream. A nightmare. It’s going to feel like this for a few days, weeks. You start to think about it, trying to make some sense out of it. Could someone have done something to avoid it? Could you have done something? But it’s too late anyways.

Do you feel guilty about it? You tell yourself that it just happens to lost touch with friends. It’s not your fault. But then you start remembering. You were so close, and then you started to drift apart. Slowly. You remember the times when you were not listening, or half listening, or listening but not with real interest. You were there when her problems started. And maybe you have even tried to be helpful at first, but then…you repeat yourself that it just happens to lost touch with friends.

They say time heals. With time pain will ease. And it does. Remembering the good times also helps. You do have many happy memories after all.

But at times it’s still difficult. It’s painful and it hurts.

And you can’t help but wonder.

Why?

Indonesian food and random thoughts about identity

On Friday night, M. and I decided to have dinner at the Indonesian restaurant.

We arrived and asked for een tafel voor twee. The waitress seemed a bit confused, but after a moment she showed us to our table.

Another waiter took our orders, two biertjes and two rijstafels. He then asked us something in Dutch. A moment of panic! Ok, let’s switch to English.

Then the other waitress brought us the food, and said something in Dutch. We didn’t get anything, and we asked her to speak English. She looked like “Hey, you were speaking Dutch earlier!”

After a while, she came again at our table to check if everything was OK. She explained that she tought we were Dutch, and she was surprised when we switched to English.

How she could think that we were Dutch, that’s a mystery to me!

Anyway, she was also non Dutch. And when we asked her where she was from, she said: “Oh, I’m from a lot of places. I’m from Canada, I’m from Hong Kong…”

At first I was tempted to reply: “Ok, but where exactly are you from? Canada or Hong Kong?”. But then, is it really that important? Do we really have to look for an exact definition? Besides, the most precise information is exactly the one she gave us. And more interesting too!

Not only we learned that she is from here and there (and since a few months she is in the Netherlands to study) but her answer made me think about one’s identity, roots and culture.

It also reminded me when, while I was in Canada, I was asked a similar question – where are you from? are you Italian, you don’t look like Italian? – and I answered: “My mom is from the Philippines, my dad is Italian and I am…me!”

Not very precise, but true.