Houses in the Netherlands have large and tall windows with big windowsill where you can store your stuffs, arrange decor items or sit and relax. As for me, I occupy my windowsill in every way I could. But what I love most is to sit on it with my knees curled up, holding a hot cup of tea or coffee, while watching the autumn leaves falling from the nut tree and people passing by or leaving the dorms or parking their bikes. My body is small enough to fit in the corner formed by the window and the wall. So I often sit there, head pressed against the glass, and the warmth emitted from the heater just under the window makes me feel sheltered like a little bird in its nest.
Have I ever said that it’s so easy to feel alone here? I mean, if you purposely seek for solitude, it’s out there. Sometimes when I feel like I need to hide myself away, I just (very spontaneously) cycle into the woods located right at the entrance of my university campus. It’s like university’s back garden. It is populated with old, tall pine trees, whose top branches intertwine like a roof, isolating the space underneath from too bright sunlight or too heavy shower. So this evening was one of those days where my asocial, blues-addict nature took over and urged me to go for an escape. It was around 7PM, and as winter time is approaching, the sun had already gone. A dim blue light filled the air. As I penetrated deeper into the forest, it got darker, colder and quieter. I could barely see anything. Leaves and nuts and branches cracked under my wheels. I moved aimlessly, trusting the small tracks to lead me to my next big discovery, until the sky opened up above me as I reached a small pond with wooden resting spot – probably for fishers. This kind of scenery is very common here in Tilburg – you just run into a pond, a lake, a canal or a river anywhere you go – and I guess it’s the same for any other place in the Netherlands, where water is ubiquitous. The water was still, occasionally agitated by the fishes, and so was the air. It was as if I temporarily left the ‘real’ world to enter another one where time didn’t move forward, but was frozen, or didn’t exist at all. There I sat, at the waterside, trying to imagine myself as one of those introverts movie characters with rich inner life. But I wasn’t filled with ideas, creativity or inspiration. I was facing myself, emotionally naked, and it was empty. Nothing but a nothingness.
Meanwhile, my friends were heading to a party, as they do every Tuesday night. This time, I was determined that I would resist the fun and the companionship. I knew it was not for me, and that I would get distracted. I was physically drained anyway. Later in the evening, when I was sitting next to the window, I heard people calling up to me from outside. I live on first floor so my room is really noticeable, especially at night with the light on. They kept crying my name enthusiastically. I wasn’t sure it was me, but then I looked out the window and saw them waving for me. All of them. Once again, it slightly crossed my mind that I could have been there – being included, together, not an outsider and a loner. I still struggled with that feeling a few weeks ago, but tonight I felt completely certain and peaceful with my decision to go my own way. At that moment, my friends said something but it couldn’t reach my ears through the window glass. That glass is representative of my relation to people and to the world, most of the time. I watch them from a distance. But seeing implies to be seen. That’s why I always keep my curtains open, and sit by the window. Once in a while, someone will look up and see me.