Back in Holland in 1981, I started a new life in a new town at a new university. The university system during those days was one of taking your own responsibility. You could do nothing, take no exams, not turn up for lectures and no-one would care. But if you wanted to do something, it didn't really matter what, then you could get as much help and assistance as you wanted. It was really up to yourself what you made of the life at university, no one would force you. This was just the ideal environment for me. I became very active. I picked up dancing again, I helped in organizing student events, I even tried some acting. And of course doing lots of sports. I also liked studying, at some point I was doing two studies at the same time. I was always on the move, being busy, very restless. Sometimes I had a girlfriend. But I couldn't commit myself to a serious relation, therefore it never lasted.
Then in 1986 I met this Dutch girl M. It was one of those rare moments in life that you meet someone and it immediate clicks, from both sides. There were no uncertainties about how we felt for each other. Nearly from the moment we met, we started living together. And now 25 years later we still are. As M is 6 years younger than me, and she was just starting her study when we met, I could continue many more years of my beloved student life.
Meting M changed my life. I stopped dancing, acting and organizing activities. My restlessness was gone. We enjoyed being together and had all the time for each other. The student life was very relaxing, doing very little during the day, going out at night. I had a teaching job at the university for a few hours a week. That gave us just enough money to do nice things. Like having lots of vacations. Visiting the nice European cities (just taking a train to Paris and see there what happens) or the European beaches (sleeping on the beaches of the Greek islands and wondering when the next boat is going to get you to the next island). I suppose this was the life I had in mind with Barbara if she had come with me to Holland.
In 1989 M finished her study. It was time to say goodbye to the student life that had lasted 11 years. Time to enter the world of earning money. As soon as we got our jobs our life changed. We were both seen as 'young potentials', which meant that all kinds of doors opened for us to a life we didn't know that existed. We were invited to parties and stood next to people who I only knew before from the TV or from the newspapers. I had business meetings in luxurious hotels, conferences in even more expensive places. I got invited to concerts and plays. Money never seemed to be a problem. We got a company car, a house with a garden. Our careers went very fast. We made long days during the week and did nothing in the weekends. It was a very different life but it was good fun and the stress full surroundings didn't seem to have much influence on us.
In 1995 our first daughter was born. That was the moment that I decided that I rather be a family man then a career man. I got myself a less demanding job and started working part time.
We bought a nice house at the border of a lake. A house with a park like garden with large old trees, a small orchard, a vegetable garden and a paddock. This was going to place where we wanted to create our own paradise. And this is what we have been doing the last 15 years, building our own dreamland.
More daughters were born. Also more and every time larger animals came. We started with a cat, soon followed by chickens, goats, a pig, a dog and finally the horses.
Now I am nearly 52 years old, with a lot less hair but without a belly! Still active in sports and still working part time, as a hospital manager at a local hospital. At the moment history is repeating itself. My daughters are having now a similar carefree and happy childhood as I had.
Looking at how I filled in my life now, I guess it is the life of which Barbara and I always dreamed off. I suppose we both wanted the same, only the way we wanted to get there was completely different.
(thanks to Natalie for the translation)
Back garden in 2007
Harvesting fruit from the orchard
My daughters with some friends taking the goats and the pig for a walk on the beach of the lake bordering our house.
Our pig who unfortunately died in 2012