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the house with the red roof

published: 2015-05-24

I walk over a path with a friend, past farms, along dikes and through fields. The path ends at the house with the red roof by the lake. It is where my grandparents lived. I have biked, walked, run and skipped this path countless times.
The older we get, the less chance we have to describe the details of our childhoods. The years keep creating new experiences, it’s too vast a collection to zoom in on.
To this friend, I find myself describing how the path ran a different route. It was much thinner and I was scared to bike it, certain I’d fall into the fields or water. That this path is the only through line in my childhood, the rest of it was all over the globe. Here, I saw how calves were born, a grand event every time that would get my grandma excited. I described how my grandparents collected ‘rijksdaalders’, a coin that no longer exists. Grandma would give us a glass bottle and ask us to get milk from the farmer. And butter. And cheese. The farmer didn’t mind us playing in his haystack or with the pigs, not back then.
On Sundays, the pastor would hold a mass in the attic of the wooden hay barn. We’d have to climb steep stairs, even my grandma and grandpa did so in their neatest clothes. I was always afraid the candles would set the barn on fire.
“Why did they have sermons there?” my friend asks.
I don’t really know. Probably for the farmers? It was a long time ago.
I dwell in the sensations the descriptions bring back to life, look at the cracks in the last bit of path which remains unchanged. And I think of how one day my son may walk there and might describe to a friend how his grandparents were, my parents. I wonder what details he’ll remember. And what will change. I wish nothing would. Everything always does.

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