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  • Sometimes, you can find yourself in a room with people who make you feel okay at that moment, but in the hours after you have exchanged your 'until next times', an increasing feeling of unease crawls into your head and heart and makes your skin turn into a shivering cover of goosebumps. Little pointy piles of memories of times long gone, echos of people dead for years and other people's frustrations, regrets and reproaches. Skin can warn you about these things. And a hollow, queasy feeling in your stomach can make you feel stuck in that moment of uneasiness.

    This may be uncomfortable. But those sensations I consider to be very useful. Not that I enjoy them. Not at all. But it forces me to think and feel about what it exactly is that causes them, and to decide how I am going to feel about them. And to deal with them. Like I am doing today.

    Yesterday, I was taking pictures of some photographs on the wall in my aunt's house. She was celebrating her eighty-fifth birthday, bless her. She has so many stories to tell, so many untold but really interesting experiences from her life. About how she worked as a pulmonogist, how she was the director of a sanatorium, how she worked in Amsterdam, Davos and other places, how she traveled by herself for years. And how she finally met the man she fell in love with, quit her job, became a captain on her own ship and sailed the seas with him. And how her family had to hide from the enemy at World War II. And as long as she is still with us, I am grateful for her stories.

    Since my parents passed away twenty-four years ago, I have felt uprooted. I still do, in a way. Fortunately, I feel at home with myself, and consider myself a happy person. A feeling of being uprooted can sometimes be dealt with by looking at one's roots. Like I was doing yesterday. Taking pictures of my ancestors's photographs with my smartphone. And when I sat down in my aunt's livingroom again, I felt grateful, and a bit closer to the dreams and ambitions my grandparents and their parents once had. Their dreams and ambitions that I unfortunately do not know much of, but would really like to discover. I know mine, and something inside tells me that there are anchors and similarities.

    A visiting lady in the livingroom looked at me and said: "Were you checking out the inheritance already or something?"

    I was appalled and stared for a moment. I replied: "No! I was not 'checking out' the inheritance. I was 'checking out' my roots. Pictures of my ancestors. I am not exactly a 'collector of things', thank you very much."

    I don't know why the lady asked me such a strange question. Maybe she is used to people taking advantage of each other. Maybe she has a strange image of me (although I have only seen her once of twice before in my life), an image that I can't relate to. Of maybe she is someone who is used to lurking around houses that way. I don't know and frankly, I don't want to know. Anyway, there is no reason for me to lurk around someone's house to see whether or not there is anything I would want to have. And why would I. My aunt is still with us, and it was a mere positive thing to see her enjoying her birthday and her friends.

    Another visitor asked me whether or not I wanted to have something from the house. "I could stow it in your purse, but I might get into trouble if I do", she said. So not only had she toyed with the idea of doing such a thing, also she thought about the consequences. I think that is really bizarre.

    What is it with these people? I don't know. And I'm getting more and more unwilling of finding out about them.

    About twenty-two years ago, my grandmother died. I got to choose something from the house. I chose an old cabinet. Today, that cabinet is still where it has always been. In my grandmother's house, where my aunt is living today. I never bothered to pick it up. Not that I don't care. But somehow it seems ruthless to take something that seems rooted in the context it has been in for decades. I do not wish to violate that.

    To me, roots, stories and memories are intertwined. Sometimes an object is attached to it. But that doesn't mean that I 'have to have it'.

    With this lingering feeling of uneasiness I'm continuing my day. Making new memories. With a cup of tea to get rid of the queasiness.
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