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Old memories
When I was young my parents moved from one end of the country to another. Being only 10 I kinda had to go with them, this wasn't really up for debate. My memories of living in Assen where I grew up are kinda vague now, it's been a long long time. Recently my parents moved back to enjoy their retirement and live in a house big enough to hold all their books with a little bit of room to spare for future purchases. We took a ride through my old neighbourhood and some things I distinctly remember have gone now. For example there was a little hill near our home, well it was really a dike, only without water so it might be confusing to call it that. This separated the parking lots from the houses, no parking right in front of the house there. While this is still true, the hill has gone and with it the thorny bushes that were so much fun to cycle over, leading to tire punctures every single week. Such is the price of progress I assume.

We saw a man playing ball with his son by standing on either side of the road and trying to bounce the ball on the curb so it bounces right back at you, if you fail the person on the other side catches the ball and has a chance to do it. We used to play the exact same game when we were young, 28 years ago. It's probably hard to imagine in this day and age but all of our playtime when I was young was of such a variety.

One other thing I remember distinctly is my old childhood sweetheart, our last kiss is burned in my memory. We lost contact shortly after my family moved and over the years I've often wondered what became of her. I have made a habit (if you can call it that) of occasionally googling the names of people I've lost contact with with surprisingly little result for most if not all of my old friends. Even friends who went on to study in academics are near impossible to find, even in scientific databases, about the only one that can be found is my old friend and housemate Dirk Koolmees, who has apparently written a book that will be published soon. I did once find a pdf on estimates of elephant populations in Cameroon by counting dung (science is so romantic!) by old friend (and housemate) Patricia Bekhuis in the highly respected publication Pachyderm (which probably has about 25 readers worldwide).

Anyways, my childhood sweetheart has been unfindable as well. Or rather she was unfindable until I tried again, after quite some time, last week. Turns out she registered for some website that exists to facilitate reunions and memories of schools and classmates. Problem is I have no idea when she registered and it could have been a while ago as she lists her place of employment as something that was subsumed in 2007. The schooldatabase website does offer the ability to send an email via a form to a person if you register for 12 euros but that kinda depends on that email adress still being active and as you don't see it until someone chooses to actively mail back you're rather left hanging, you won't even get a bounce if the adress is non-existant. Which is annoying and irritating to say the least. I don't want to find my old sweetheart and lose her again in the same stroke.
Still, it's only been a few days since I sent a message so no need to cry out in anguish and tear out my hair yet :).

I've often wondered what would have happened if we'd never moved. Would our budding love have lasted? Would we still see each other? I've sometimes thought that if we hadn't moved I'd be married to her now. On the other hand I'd be a completely different person then and as I kinda like the me that's here would I care for that? This is of course one of the great imponderables of human existence, in what way do our experiences shape us, in what way do our formative years determine the shape of our future selves. The trousers of time Pratchett calls it, you can never know how things would have turned out had you taken another path in life. All you can do is live with your decisions and move on, occasionally looking back and wondering, what if?

Still, it would be good to hear from her again as the info I'm left with is rather little. So check your mail Alinda. You owe it to the past. Besides, I just upped your google hit count by 50%.

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