This evening is the first time I have been all alone for a very long time. Over the past 2.5 years, I have hardly ever spent a real moment without kids or without Heike. I have only once been away overnight during my son’s life – when I had an interview for my current job. I’ve never been away longer than a couple of hours from my daughter. The coming two days will be different. No kids, no wife. Just me, alone in our camper.
I dropped off the family at my parents-in-law, where they will spend the coming few days together. I’m actually here for work, rather than for fun. I was supposed to go to a conference a couple of kilometers away from my Dutch former home town, but the event was cancelled. I had already arranged some meetings professional and private in my former home town of Wageningen, and I decided to simply spend the days there. My van is warm and dry, has comfortable chairs, a desk, a kitchen, and a bed. What else could I need for a productive couple of days?
I arrived this evening around 9pm, and decided to first take a stroll through the city center. The weather sucked balls, rainy and extremely windy due to some huge storm – with a name that I forget – coming in, but there were many people out and about, not sure what for. Unlike Freising, Wageningen is a town where the university is the centerpiece of everything, and students and their influence on life, are visible everywhere. I always liked that about Wageningen. Freising just looks like any Bavarian town. There are remarkably few pubs, or other forms of activity. Wageningen is smaller in size, but certainly has more of a buzz (although some people might burst out laughing here).
I walk through streets of this town that I called home for thirteen years. I peek through pub doors to see the countless bars where I’ve had so many good evenings with friends. Quite some guests. I can’t remember the last time I went to a pub. I see the many half-empty restaurants that I’ve had delicious meals. I’m glad they survived the rough times. I cross the empty market square, and walk past the town hall, where we got married a couple of years ago. I hear some loud but festive screams coming from across the square, just behind the church. Is that a student house party. God, they were so good. They were so bad. Enough town center for me. I’m getting completely soaked by the pouring rain. Time to go back. My camper is parked at the town’s camper lot just outside the center, and only a stone’s throw away from my old apartment. I walk past it to see what it has been turned into. I glance through the large windows into a dark and lifeless room, where my son took his first breath. Quite the contrast.
Some things have changed. Most has stayed the same. It still feels like home.
God, I miss this place. I don’t shed a tear, but on the inside I’m crying.