Memories, mortality and a midsummer’s night

Saturday morning I joined a three of my erstwhile housemates for a breakfast reunion. I am the only one still married – one has been divorced for a long time and the other two are widows.  The men we were dating when we lived together in our student house, and later married (and the one I divorced), have all died of cancer (intestinal and pancreatic) before their 70th birthday – that makes for a 100% mortality rates of our men back then.  Was it the enormous amounts of alcohol male students consumed? The smoking? Or simply bad luck and chance? It makes one think.

We visited our old house and dared each other to ring the bell to see if we could take a look. A young Irish couple now live on the ground floor. I think we woke them up. Nevertheless they were gracious enough to show us around, including their bedroom – something rather unheard of as I remember. Their front room was my first room, the bedroom was F’s. We giggled and exclaimed as excited old ladies can, pointing out where the first encounters with our now dead mates took place. For some it was an emotional trip down memory lane.

The next part of the day was devoted to the reunion of the women’s student association which merged with the boys’ club one year after I joined, thus making my cohort and the next forever the ‘young ones.’ I caught up with people I hadn’t seen in 40 years, found out who was retired, who was not and who was ‘playing’ Sinterklaas (Santa) with their own or other people’s monies, reinforcing once more my belief that there is no lack of money in the world.

We listening to a very inspiring ‘sustainability’ activist, a young woman who founded Urgenda, trying to get Holland to do more to turn back CO2 emissions and even took the Dutch government successfully to court for irresponsible behavior in the face of undeniable facts on global warming. I wonder whether this would be possible in the US – irresponsible behavior is rather blatant and our influence is big, much bigger than little Holland. I was very inspired by her practical and creative approach to get people to do their share of the effort that will and can turn back the clock. A familiar cabaret from the late 60s by a friend of my sister who started her professional cabaret career in Leiden and was now grooming the next generation, had us all pull out the stops to sing along the melodies and words we remembered. Afterwards we split into smaller groups and dined together for a more intimate reunion and catching up.

To complete the day I caught a ride to Scheveningen where I joined Axel and my nephew and his wife and child for an extraordinary performance of Purcell’s The Fairie Queen (based on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night Dream) with music by the Dutch Blazers (Wind) Ensemble and the story told in a light-hearted way through enormous puppets. My nephew does is one of the technicians and provided us with complimentary tickets.

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