Nostalgia

CyclingIt’s Monday morning and I am attempting to replicate last week’s productivity by writing this on my train journey into London. My train productivity record has seen new heights recently as I actually drew, painted AND inked this week’s picture on the train to Schiphol airport yesterday afternoon. Using watercolours on a train, as it turns out, is tricky but not impossible. Although for some mysterious reason Dutch trains seem to be more stable than UK ones – my current one is shaking so much that it’s hard to type, let alone paint.

In last week’s post I mentioned that my comfort zone is firmly in front of a desk rather than running around ‘on the floor’ for want of a better word. All the more pleasing, therefore, that last week’s Meet Me at the Albany went really well despite me having to cover for the project coordinator’s holiday. It was a great test to see how the volunteer team had developed over the past few weeks and they really stepped up – there is something really satisfying about seeing how the things you do at work translate into tangible positive change. Perhaps partly as a result of this, I’ve been offered a three-month contract extension, and I have decided to accept the offer. It does mean having to try and find something to fill my remaining two days once my Blast Theory contract comes to an end, but it gives me a little bit more certainty until the start of the summer and, crucially, it will allow me to really put some things into practice rather than just strategising and making recommendations.

I’m still feeling somewhat tired and dazed this morning after a fairly intense few days in the Netherlands. My main reason for going was to see my friend’s new baby (my friends are reproducing at an increasing rate now, prompting many questions about my own procreative plans – although my views are still more or less what they were last summer when I wrote on the topic), but I ended up having to go to a funeral too. It was an old family friend, not someone I had been hugely close to, although I had actually been due to visit him before the news came that he’d lost his battle with cancer. I’ve not had to go to many funerals in my life, thankfully – apart from the inevitable confrontation with mortality, the resonances with my father’s death make them particularly hard-going for me.

I had set out a rather ambitious itinerary for myself, which, in combination with the marking of lives new and past, lent a particular intensity and poignancy to my visit. Perhaps it was because of that that the actual fact of being in the Netherlands but not living there anymore, not seeing my friends and family more often, was thrown into heightened relief. When I arrived late on Wednesday night I found myself genuinely struggling to speak Dutch properly, although thankfully that dissipated quickly. On Saturday afternoon I cycled through the park where I had played as a child, and what used to be an entire world seemed so small. The friend I was on my way to see, whom I used to play with in that park, now has two children of her own. Maybe I’m just getting a bit sentimental and nostalgic in my old age… On the other hand, I really enjoyed being on my mum’s sit-up-and-beg Gazelle bike and zooming around the streets of Groningen, looking at all the places I’d known all my life. Maybe I should just go back a bit more often.

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