Houston never really sees freezing temperature, but yesterday, Dec. 10th 2008, was surely a falling of wet snow during the day and snow was clearly visible at night when the temperature dove to teeth chattering cold. Well, at least for me it was.
My husband can't seem to believe that I was born in Holland and grew up in such a cold country, since I can't stand the cold. In Holland it snows as in REAL snow in which snowman's are made and snowballs fights are common. In which your car and your bike will experience a slippery road even though it was salted the night before. I clearly remember riding my bike to school -- bicycling is the most common transportation in Holland, all seasons included. The route would be as follows;
My friend Emmy who lived on the same block would ring my doorbell around 7:30 AM and I'd be ready to leave the house, going out from the backyard. I then would meet with her in the front yard where we'd go to Danielle's house which was approximately 1o minutes away from us. (in biking distance). We'd take the back road crossing the small bridge over the river where kids would catch frogs during summertime, but during winter you'd see the once lively river frozen to standstill. Once we'd made it to Danielle's house, we'd either ring the doorbell and she would come upfront or we'd go to her backyard, sometimes park our bikes in her backyard and just wait for her in the living room.
I loved standing there. The house was warm and her family was so welcoming; an atmosphere of warmth would exude from the every corner of the house. They'd turn on the radio in the early mornings and I would hear music when stepping in. Danielle was quite vain in her teenage years. Sometimes, she'd take a full ten minutes to blow dry her hair and her mascara would be fully coated on her blonde/brown lashes, making her eyes look "made up" and totally over the top. She'd then come out of the glass door wearing her coat, shawl and gloves -- finally ready to leave.
She was surely the leader of our group. Emmy and I would only bicycle together going to Danielle's house, but upon arrival, the decision of splitting up into 2 and 1 would lie in her hands. Sometimes I'd ride my bike behind them or Emmy would bike behind us. Danielle was never alone; a dominant personality who ruled her kingdom on us and we didn't mind.
Our friendship was genuine and we truly cared for one and other. I'd hear out all the latest 'crush' stories Danielle was eager to share. This one guy in class she desperately liked and apparently he liked her as well, I think his name was Rick, was a never ending saga of her life.
Since the three of us weren't the popular ones in class, which was fine with me, Danielle was always in constant struggle to belong to the popular ones and yet not abandon us. The 'Rick guy' whom she found cute was also liked by the most popular girl of our class; Claire. Her 'kuif' as we say it in Dutch, meaning her bangs were always neatly combed and heavily sprayed with hairspray, creating a 'wave' on her forehead that was plastered every day of her student life, making her the most vain girl in school. She was also very confident and giggled a lot. I figure talking about boys most of the time. She was an attention grabber and the kids were in awe of her. Girls wanted to be her and guys were greedy of her popularity. Her best friend, Esther Vermuilen, I still remember the name!...was always beside her, giggling and making fun of the weaker ones in class.
I was always unaffected by it, but enjoyed watching my classmates drool over her. I was considered shy and a good girl with a few friends to hang out with.
We had a weaker link in class. His name slips my mind. Wait, is it Arjan? It is pronounced; Aryan -- the j is Y in Dutch. Arjan was a full grown man shrunk into a kid's body. He always had a serious demeanor. His body weight and old looks made him insecure, especially with the constant teasing of his classmates, calling him 'fat' and 'old man'. He'd sometimes get into this rage where his cheeks would explode in redness and he'd stomp his way out of the classroom. The kids would laugh harder and make it even worse. Our teacher, we had two at the time, the principal himself, Meester Hans (meester is teacher) and a female teacher with a very traditional Dutch name. She would only look up to answer questions and her interaction with the class always remained to the point and concise. Meester Hans on the other hand, was quite the entertainer. He would read excerpt from the Bible on Mondays -- I forgot to mention it was a Catholic School, and he'd explain the stories to us using imagination and creative story telling. I still remember him till this day. He was charming, friendly and almost like a father figure to the class. He would never raise his voice but deal with problems with a teasing manner and smart sarcasm to those who deserved.
His attentiveness made the classroom alive. Even parents were under a good impression of him.
The twelfth grade musical was hard on its way to practicing. We'd gather in the big hall and practice our lines while getting into character. I loved acting; every aspect of it made me feel alive and excited. The musical allowed us to sing, dance, act and feel free of any imperfections. Every single student was working hard towards a good musical. A goodbye project this was to welcome a new grade and say goodbye to years of educational & human development in our school, De Vlieger (The Kite) . It was time to move on and let go of our kite.
During the practice of our musical, I remember Danielle declaring her 'crush' for Rick. It created a stir on set; the latest gossip talk resulted into instant popularity for Danielle. She was all smiles.
She would steer away from us and eventually we did loose her later on in life...
We kids were like little snowflakes falling onto the surface, covering life's path with our existence.
Some found theirs, I found mine in the blur of snowflakes, that is. :)