You forget just how cold the water is that flows through the taps. How numb your hands become in mere minutes. Unlike at home – in Nigeria where the water from the taps is always warm.
You forget how narrow and winding Dutch stairwells are. How steep. How torturous it is to walk down the stairs in the dark, madly gripping handrails and banisters.
You forget how many times you should kiss friends. One? Two or three? Apparently 3, just like the French do. Forget the number and a kiss could well land on lips!
And still, it’s hard to believe things have changed in our absence, even if they are things that are easily forgotten.
Things like French fries with ‘sweet’ mayo. Frites met mayo. That’ll be forever the same.
Or what happens when the sun comes out to play – the city of Den Haag troops to the beach. You forget that. Scores of people piling into/onto trams – well dressed to play.
You forget your hay fever. Sniffing, eyes itching, nose twitching and lots of sneezing. You’ve been gone too long but the pollen remember you. And while you long for sun, the counts go higher and higher – your summer curse.
And all this, since we’ve been gone.
Take the ‘fast’ buses for instance. Back then, they took half the time the regular buses dud and stopped 10 minutes from my house. Buses 88, 89 and 95.
Two years later and they’re gone! The lady at the counter says they don’t exist. She’s only been there a year. So I take the regular bus but there’s no stop close to my old street. I have to walk. And walk I do. I enjoy the scenery but again I judge the distance incorrectly!
Tonight is different. I send my friend a text to say I’ll be late as the slow bus is the only alternative. Then I begin to moan at the bus stop about how only a few years ago, the fast buses ran. You know when I lived there. Apparently with my departure everything’s gone to pot! Sigh!!
I almost slip into a diatribe but I am quieted by a random gentleman’s response which is ‘Oh those? They’ve been renamed!’
Shock. And I catch the right, fast bus. Bus 385 and 386. I’m in Wassenaar in minutes!
I get off the bus to freshly laid concrete. My grey carpet. The grasses lining the oath are tall, unkempt. That’s almost the total extent though of the degradation I’ve seen in this place I left.
Houses are pristine. As I left them.
And my fascination with mannequins is growing! Especially if they sport cobalt blue shoes. Cobalt being my absolute favourite blue….and possibly colour!
My old ‘supermarket’ has changed too – broader aisles. The freezer section now houses underwear and bathing suits. Stuff for when summer rolls round. The baking section has moved, to an entirely new space. Side-by-side with the deli. The smell of fresh bread is so inviting, embracing but I manage to avoid it all – I am on tour!
Its interesting to see things anew.
And to preserve old memories. While collecting new ones.