An envisioning . . . . . .Rotterdam in the cold and raw of January in 1960 . .

Oh to be there . . . . .

Sunday afternoon to while away in the Netherlands with an ocean storm settling in. Friends from school and a cousin from out of town.

The rijsttafel earlier than usual and all the grownups sitting around stuffed downstairs with glasses of something.

Not quite glued to the sofa but close. No, upstairs maybe but two feet on each step and a racket that would make every rafter shiver.

Time to look through all the old things in the attic from when Mother lived in Java in the old residency up in the hills before the last war came and went with the Japanese and they had to leave. For sure everything shaking so much if they came up that one could take out the old things to play pretend fairy queen in five seconds.

A green sarong thing and then a red. Funny. Wouldn’t have thought they’d buy those. Must have been intended for Christmas presents for anyone who’d never been near the place.

Baskets made from palm fronds with a dusky smell.

Nutmegs with the mace still on in a china mug like the one Mother has hidden in the pantry behind the flour and sugar. A memory thing, they must be. Warmth, a tropical sun, and everything different.

Down at the very bottom and a parcel. A picture with writing on the back in great grandmother’s hand . . . .their honeymoon hotel. . .. . the room by the green door in the picture, it says . . . .Funny. .. looking so old and stern in the pictures but young and gay then . . . .no . . .a world filled with sunlight and joy and a servant around every corner . . . .home . . .must have thought they would never have to leave . . . .

Marine Hotel. Batavia, Dutch East Indies. 1881-1889.
Marine Hotel, Batavia, Dutch East Indies . 1881-1889. Lithograph after a watercolor by Josias Cornelis Rappard. Collection of the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. Cc licence 3.0. via

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