For a fleeting moment, I travelled back in time. Wandering through that age-old city once more, I noticed tunnels, transformed houses, and intersections that had long been due for a makeover. Even as everything changes, a certain essence remains intact.
The old windmill on Noordendijk still stands tall. The stream has evolved, now distinctly different from my memories. At the harbour, the ducdalven (mooring dolphins) still lean as they always did, and the water flows unchanged. The restaurant by the harbour retains its vibrant ambience. Beyond, ships of all sizes sail by; their sizes may have changed, but the waves, with their white crests, remain a constant, comforting sight.
How long has it been since I last visited? Ferries now traverse these waters, ships dock laden with provisions for their upcoming voyages. Yet the modern journey is much shorter. The quay, though not deserted, doesn’t hum with the same potential it once did. There was potential in every shipment, every vacant vessel, each offering opportunities for trade and sustenance.
Now, cars dominate the scene, depreciating assets symbolizing untapped potential. Their value diminishes rapidly, unlike the intrinsic value of a human being. People hurry along, shifting from job to job, school to school. The truants of yesteryears, who might once have been found loitering about, are now hidden behind screens. Today’s truant, engrossed in the digital realm, seems to lack the untapped potential they once held.
I'm not advocating for truancy, but rather questioning our quick judgments on those who take a pause from work or school. The term "vacation" itself stems from "vacant", signifying emptiness. Yet, in this modern age, perhaps it’s inanimate objects that truly experience vacancy. Think of depleted batteries or empty coffee cups.
Cities, like memories, hold power. As I continue my journey, I see yachts aplenty, interspersed with historic ships that exude a sense of bygone eras. These vessels, despite being transformed into modern living spaces, retain an aura of historical significance.
Perhaps I should reconsider the potential of cars. After all, they transport people, the true bearers of power. Times have changed, yet some landmarks, like the Long Iron Bridge, persist. Childhood memories flood back: walking across this bridge with my formidable grandfather, and visiting a fish shop renowned for its eel delicacies.
Certain landmarks, like the towering Dom, symbolize the city's enduring strength. I stroll further, stepping on ancient cobblestones, pondering the unique names of streets and harbours. Recollections come rushing back as I glimpse a familiar building – my former home. An old converted warehouse, its rustic design possibly linking this town to Rotterdam. Its unchanged facade reminds me of the raw power and potential this city holds.