vrijdag 26 oktober 2012

Kaas en vingertjes

Dingen die E. heeft ontdekt in Nederland: fietsen, karnemelk, kaas (alle soorten), schommelen, 'kan niet', 'mag niet' (met wijzend vingertje), pannenkoeken, appels plukken en meteen opeten, kinderwinkelwagentjes, kruipend de trap opkomen (in een Haags herenhuis) en zittend diezelfde trap afdalen.

Maar het mooiste vind ik toch wel dat ze de eerste week al "samen doen" ontdekte (samen schommelen, samen de vijver uitscheppen, samen tegen een bal schoppen, samen tekenen, samen koken). Pas twee weken later volgde "zelf doen" (zelf laarzen aantrekken, zelf jas aantrekken, zelf slaapzak uittrekken, zelf tandenpoetsen, zelf op de smartphone filmpjes van zichzelf bekijken).

Ons sociale fietsgekke zuivelslurpend kaaskopje.

donderdag 25 oktober 2012

Figuring out my home

Bouncing between my parents' house, my father-in-law's place, my aunt's genteel abode and several friends' places, not too mention using my grandmother's car for ferrying purposes, I felt a bit displaced.

It's a feeling that hits me every once in a while, especially if I've been busy running around trying to get things done in the real world and not spent enough time tidying up my thoughts. A friend once pointed out that I like my surroundings neat because my head's a bit of a jumble (she was merely stating a fact).

It's true. I nest. If I, or we, are to spend more than a night in any given place, I will unpack all the bags and rearrange the furniture to suit my preference. (I do not throw out all the aesthetically offensive ornaments as this famous Dutch actor apparently does, if today's paper is to be believed. Although my first thought upon reading that was "really? am I allowed to do that?".) I am not a very good traveller, my status as co-European champion notwithstanding, because once settled, I tend to stick around.

Because only once settled in my nest, can I start the process of putting away stray thoughts and tidying up strands of thinking and little bits of imagination. You know, just like you'd format a computer to get rid of all the debris bits. Every once in a while I'll announce to S. that he can't talk to me, because I need to recalibrate. He then looks a bit bemused, but as it usually involves me staring silently into space for a good chunk of time, he doesn't really mind. (He might actually enjoy it, come to think of it.)

Except lately, I've been running around too much to get the regular cleaning done. So, today, in the car, it hit me badly: feeling displaced, out of sorts, confused - and I yearned for my home, my place of rest to take care of my head.

But I had no clue where this 'home' was, right now.

Was I yearning for our Singaporean apartment, where I'm not allowed to put a nail in the wall and have had to make do with the furniture supplied and the fact that every single body in the building can enter my house at will? Not really. We live there happily, but it's hardly a proper home. Was I yearning for my last home in the Netherlands, the one in Utrecht where E. was born? We went back there in May and it has been transformed beautifully by the new inhabitants, much nicer than we would have ever been able to. It's all white and gleaming now, and not before time, as it was quite dilapidated and drafty when we were living there. But it definitely wasn't our orange and purple living space anymore. My parents house? After fifteen years away, it's no longer my home. In fairness, it hasn't been my home since my parents gave my - much larger - bedroom to Brother J, after I left for Bolivia.

Was I yearning for a future home? Not really. I can't really picture us in a Proper House or Apartment. You know, one that we'd actually have to care for instead of simply live in. I didn't yearn for the impersonal space of a hotel room either, not even if I'd personalized it by strewing around toys and magazines on the bed and hanging my clothes in the cupboard.

It took me a while, but I figured it out. (Fortunately, it was a bit of a drive and E. fell asleep after I turned the first corner.) And it's so corny I hesitate to write it down, so please have your sick bags at the ready.

S. is my home.

I never knew the truth in old sayings could be so literal.

vrijdag 12 oktober 2012

Frisse lucht

Elke keer dat ik buiten Nederland woon, ontdek ik ongedachte maar onmiskenbare en onmisbare trekjes van Nederland.

Toen ik op de gortdroge, steenkoude en met snijdende zon beschenen hoogvlakte van de Andes woonde, miste ik het kabbelende Nederlandse water.

Toen ik in het drassige, groene Ierland woonde, waar mensen in pubs en huizen samenhokken tegen de mist en de regen, miste ik de wijdsheid van met bomen omzoomde en met bermen en grachten doorkliefde straten.

Nu ik in de met groen en bloem gevulde, ruim opgezette Garden in a City van Singapore woon, mis ik de frisse lucht die 's ochtends opstijgt uit met dauw gevulde tuinen en velden.

Maar als ik dan weer in Nederland woon, dan mis ik het oneindige hemelgewelf boven de verre bergtoppen. Ik mis de golven die tegen woeste kliffen opspatten en de verscheidenheid aan vogels die over de leegte tussen dorpen scheren. En ik mis de kleuren en het gouden zonlicht dat door het woekerende, tropische groen de straat op filtert.

Het is ook nooit goed.


Eigenlijk is het overal wel goed. Tropische regen is heerlijk, want niet koud en je kunt er dus zo lekker op blote pootjes in rondspetteren. Hollandse regen is heerlijk, want daarna kun je zo fijn onder de warme douche. En hete thee of chocolademelk drinken. We genieten wat af, hierzo.

Daarom houdt S. ook zo van thuiskomen. Of het nou hier of daar is.

woensdag 10 oktober 2012

Pregnancy: climatic pros and cons

The advantage of COLD seasons from a pregnant point of view:

1. Colder climes means no more swollen hands or feet. Yay!

2. Natural air conditioning, no overheating or dissolving into sweaty puddles and leaving humid trails everywhere I go.

3. Full body coverage, meaning no having to reach difficult body parts to get rid of darkly visible hairs (think: legs). 

4. Cheap berries during summer to soothe rampant berry craving.

The advantage of constant TROPICAL weather from a pregnant point of view:

1. Flip flops, i.e.: no need to acrobatically bend parts of body to hastily throw on socks in the nanosecond I am able to maintain said challenging position.

2. Three lovely dresses, several nice skirts, four or five nice tops, a few tank tops and a huge bikini suffice for the whole pregnancy. No need for different or cumulative sets of clothing in order to adjust to different sets of weather. Case in point: in Singapore there would have been no need to appropriate Brother's huge winter jacket to cover cold and protesting Tamtam II bulge, forcing Brother to wear highly flattering, tailored grey fleece jacket at all times thus causing him to be chased by hordes of besotted women. (I am not being chased by anybody, including E., who has transferred all affection to her grandparents who shamelessly indulge requests for smoothies, swing pushing and "Sassa" video's.)

3. Less layers to peel off on frequent (so very frequent) bathroom visits. Also: less bathroom visits due to abundance of pore activity. 

4. No cold feet when getting out of bed. (This is actually independent of being pregnant, but lovely enough to merit mention in any list singing the praises of tropical climes.)

Obviously, this is a highly personal list. Please add your own favorites and findings in the comments!

woensdag 3 oktober 2012

I followed my heart

My heart was in love with S. long before my head wrapped itself around the idea of that being a possibility in the first place. He wasn't my type, but I had him pegged all wrong, as I discovered after my heart had decided to give itself away.

I thought he was this typical skinny cyclist macho guy, with his computer games, his bike messengering, his grades always hovering around a pass, his button down shirts and his beer drinking with his mates while ogling women.

I was the president of a literary society, had several book cases filled to the brim cluttering up my room and the tiniest tv possible, which wasn't even mine but on loan from a friend. I would spent hours playing trivial pursuit down at the local pub with my friends, and on the way home would pick up artsy movies to watch late into the night.

Had his cyclist friend and my house mate not lied on S. behalf that he was going to be kicked out of his current abode and needed a place to stay, and didn't we have a spare room after the islander guy had left, I don't think we would have ever met. Our worlds simply did not intersect.

My heart didn't care and decided to go off to live at his place anyway. I think it took my mind six months to get over itself and accept that my heart had found the One without any help from my critical faculties.

This month it's been ten years since we met.

S. brought Mario Kart into the house, and we'd all pile into his room to play. As I am rubbish at cooking for one, I'd end up cooking for everybody. We hung out, we laughed, I gave him dating advice, he gave me clothing advice, he'd call me from the pub to tell me what he was up to and I would sit in his big squashy leather chair watching his tv because it was much nicer than mine and had a better reception of rubbish programs. In emergencies I would dash into his room, because he also owned the largest (and quite possibly only) mirror in the house. Over the course of a year, our lives slowly slotted into one another, until one day we signed up for salsa classes together.

Next month, on E.'s birthday, it'll be nine years that we've been together.

He's still not my type. I don't think I am quite his cup of tea either. But our relationship is not build on common interests or recognition. It makes it harder sometimes, I think, because we need to let go of ourselves to be able to see each other. But I think we do. Because we want the same life and we have the same dreams and we want it together. Because we love each other and we love E. and love is not easy and light and fluffy like a Care Bear Rainbow. Ours is a lot uglier and a lot stronger than that.


This post was inspired by yAnn over at Yannisms, and the thread Love Stories was started by June at MAMAwearPAPAshirt.