Only seconds ago I was asked by the elderly man i was just eavesdropping on about the wifi I’m using now on my iPad. I told him I’m lucky to have a weak signal from the supermarket next door. Assuming he would barely know what an iPad is, I told him I always sit here as its the only table where you can get a signal. He replied he’ll sit here tomorrow cause normally when he brings his tablet he can’t get any wifi. Modern grandad, how cool is that?
Looking around I see two groups of people; housewives sometimes with little children and retired people. Not really my age group, but as this is the only place to have breakfast in the middle of nowhere a.k.a my hometown I have no choice. And quite frankly it makes a good, quiet environment to study in and breakfast is only one euro.
But as you can imagine iPad-man’s and his breakfast-partner’s stories are far more interesting than multinational business finance could ever be. They speak about their neighbors (hers are refugees and his are immigrants from Curaçao), about how she made fresh vegetable soup last night while he coincidentally ate soup as well and about what they’re going to do next. They say goodbye and she leaves for the supermarket, while he walks home since he already bought the bread he needed.
What’s striking is to see how happy they really are. They both seem to have settled into a slower paced but happier life and don’t care that it’s utterly boring. Or maybe the boredom is just my perception and I’m actually a little envious that they manage to be happy without the thrills and stress that I seem to need so badly.
Maybe I too should spend more time on simple things such as grocery shopping and a little less on needing to perform. But first I have to finish (and start) a ten page essay before midnight.. sigh.
Occasionally life rewards me with instant happiness moments, such as spotting a deer on an early morning horse ride or coming across a flattering number on my scales’ display. At other times wine does the trick. However, one of my favorite moments is Wednesday evening, when I get to go to my boyfriend’s office to catch a ride home with him. The boyfriend works in one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods of Rotterdam, called Feijenoord. In fact it’s reputation is so bad, it would give mom a heart attack if she knew I was walking there on my own. Let alone in my usual high heels and miniskirt.
Of course I could lie and say I didn’t experience any fear at all when I was followed by a Suriname guy or passing the blind-date sex cinema. That way you would all be impressed cause you’d think I was absolutely bad-ass. But I kind of passed that stage, when I graduated elementary school. So, yeah I’ll admit it: I have been scared walking in ‘da hood’ once or twice. But mostly that ten minute walk manages to make me smile at least a few times.
In Holland people usually hide inside because the weather sucks, but in Feijenoord the houses suck more, so people are on the street. Usually I see kids playing soccer, men chilling in front of the mosque and Muslim women doing groceries at small Turkish supermarkets. Old men greet me with a smile and I hear many languages I cannot define. The weird thing is that everybody, no matter how poor, seems to be happy. Maybe they fake it or maybe I’m just biased by my good mood for ‘Wednesday date night,’ but in my opinion happiness is a mutually shared emotion here.
For me, having to walk through this neighborhood is a sign, that it’s a good thing to walk past the boundaries of your comfort zone every once in a while. Because after all, that’s where life begins. If you have similar, or not similar happiness moments, let me know in the comment section. Also, if you liked this post please indicate by clicking like, or sharing it.
P.s.: I know I sound really dorky saying ‘da hood,’ but I guess part of me just is very dorky, so accept and get over it!