Student - February 10, 2011

Next week

It's a quarter to seven. A big man strides across the unpretentious train station of Rheden with the ponderous gait of a polar bear.

26-Stijn-6006.jpg
26-Stijn-6006.jpg

photo: .

He carries on an incessant conversation. I listen, although I barely know what he is talking about.
For weeks, I have thought that this man was addressing the world through his headset and iPhone. That he represented something or someone, or that he was a heavily stressed-out manager. Now I know that he just talks mainly to himself.
From afar, the sound of barriers closing at the level crossing reaches my ears, while a cold gust of wind creeps through my coat. With half closed eyes, I visualize my week's schedule. 'So if I write my column this evening, I can still do some learning on Tuesday and Thursday, and there is just a remedial English lesson left on Wednesday evening.  Oh, and look for a room, I suddenly remember this time. Oh well, that can wait till next week.' I all but talk aloud to myself. In the train, my eyes close, and the autopilot takes over. An hour later, I hobble into the Forum, sapped of energy and longing for my thermos flask with coffee.
This has been replaying for more than half a year. I keep telling myself to look for that room the next week, and something more urgent keeps creeping in between. I'm either tired, or have become a parasite in my surroundings. Every day, my Rheden housemates do the cooking; almost every week, I bunk in at a Wageningen student's place. I rely on others even for a cycling tour, because, well, buying a bicycle is on next week's schedule.
I think there is a clear parallel here with people who end up in debt help: I travel because I don't have a room and because I have to travel, I don't have time to look for a room. That's why I travel and, anyway, you get the picture, I think.
There I stand. It's a quarter to seven. A big man strides across the unpretentious train station of Rheden with the ponderous gait of a polar bear. He carries on an incessant conversation and I visualize my week's schedule in my head. 'I'm going to look for a room next week', I tell myself aloud.
I had believed for more than half a year that I would look for a room. But now, I know that I've just been talking to myself.

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