“So many people ask me so what do you do. You know, at the parties people do it to start a conversation, get to know a bit about you. No-one understands me when I just say I live here. It’s always like, yes, and?, and I don’t have much more to tell them.” – she said.

She was a refugee like me once, about twenty years before I went through it all. It took her about ten years to feel at peace with where she was. It took her another ten years to feel happy just to be alive. “It is sad that people take it for granted, all this life thing. I’m just happy to be alive. I would’ve died if I stayed back there.”

This was a small part of one conversation I had at the New Year’s Eve party last night. She asked me how old I am. She had told me earlier how old she is and I’d worked out the gap, some fifteen years or so, so I felt a bit uneasy telling her how old I am. She smiled and in an amused voice asked the rhetorical and you understand me?, questioning why no-one else has understood her. And I told her about my journey nearly ten years earlier, about leaving every little thing behind, friends, family, books, pets. And absolutely everything else. Everything except my memories, and a small bag with some changes of clothes, and my diary. And about having lived at more than ten different places since 1992, and that by now I actually need to be on the go. That longer than half a year anywhere starts to feel too long. I don’t belong.

And thinking about it now, I guess I would be very reluctant to belong again.

Until he was eighteen, he was so closed inside himself. Couldn’t open up to people. He came up to me last night, as a part of his “going around meeting everyone” round. He’s certainly changed that part of himself since he was eighteen. He thanks e for that. Says that the first time he took it, he saw this glass door in front of him, the door that has kept him inside himself for all those years. That night, for the first time, he saw a knob. He didn’t open the door that night. He waited until next weekend and did it without e.

All in all, it was a good night. We were at Rop’s house with most of the other Hippies From Hell. My first year with minimal impact of the New Year’s tick. I was in the middle of a conversation with someone. We heard someone say happy new millennium, so we said the same and just carried on with whatever we were talking about. Then I went outside into the cold Amsterdam night, in just my t-shirt, to watch the fireworks. Amazing how much money people spend on those. Some spent a few thousand guilders for a couple of minutes of colourful sparks in the sky.

And so it goes, and so it goes,
And so will you soon I suppose.