The Visitor at 439-5223

Back to my school life some years ago when I stayed in Uilenstede, a student housing district in Amstelveen, The Netherlands…….

I  was alone in my room, cleaning a dusty desk, bedside table, and all the things I put on top. Suddenly, the loud sound of a doorbell broke the silence.

I walked out from my room to the corridor to open the door. A long wavy-haired, fair-skinned Chinese girl stood in front of me, asking a permission to see my room. I didn’t find it a strange question. The management office always advised their future tenants to ring any current tenants’ room suppose they want know how it looks like and hopefully somebody will open the door for them.

She attentively observed things around her, from an unfolded blanket, an untidy bed sheet, piles of papers on top of the printer, textbooks on a desk, arranged perfume and cosmetic bottles on a dressing table, a laptop on a sleep mode, unmatched pairs of furniture until a plugged water kettle on the floor. All right, I wasn’t proud of it. But I didn’t expect a company either.

Next, she asked me a permission for the second time to take a look at the balcony. The wind was mild, the bright sunshine gave some warmth on her face. She took her time a bit longer in the balcony than any other visitors. Most probably she drowned herself into her own world, playing with her own mind out there.

walk or swim: it’s their call!

After she was back inside, I started a conversation, “Do you study here?”

“No. I’m just visiting.” replied the girl.

We ended up talking about places she visited in Amsterdam and some European cities with her family, and I told a bit about myself. She introduced herself as Vivian. Knowing that she didn’t and wouldn’t stay in The Netherlands, I was very curious how she knew about Uilenstede, the place which is mostly popular among local and international students in the country, not tourists.

She finally revealed her main purpose of coming to my place. “I know someone who lived here. I just wanna see how it looks like and how he lived, how his life was. He used to study here.” She even said that the room I resided, unit 439 room 5223, was exactly the one where he stayed during his school life. I was like, wow! So my room was not just a random pick!

However, In response to my question about where he lives now, she only said, “I don’t know.”

Living my bedroom, we passed the corridor for the last time to show her the living room with public kitchen and washing machine. She didn’t ask for it, it was only my initiative to do so. She looked at it at a glance without expressing so much interest. Then I realised that it was not the most important thing for her.

She thanked me for allowing her to enter my room. After that, she headed to the elevator and went to the metro station to join the rest of her family.

I haven’t heard about her ever since. Months later, I emailed her to the Hotmail address she gave on that day. There was no reply. May be her account was already dead. May be she simply has forgotten me. Or else.

tram 5 that took me to Uilenstede hit a car near Zuid WTC

If I had an intention to write a blog at that time when I met her, I could have lead our conversation to someone whom I know very little: a Chinese male who once pursued his study in The Netherlands. This someone is the key character of the story. This someone also holds the reason why she didn’t know where he lives now. Or why she didn’t want to tell me about it. There must be something about someone, who was able to trigger a girl named Vivian to feel his life under her shoes by visiting his former 18-square-meter room.

The only way to know more about someone is to trespass someone else’s (aka the girl’s) privacy by asking more intimate questions, which is against my nature. Which didn’t cross my mind either. And I would never get that chance, ever.

Someone who didn’t love her back but she couldn’t accept it? Someone broke her up or passed away but she couldn’t let him go? Did the answer “I don’t know” conceal the sorrow of hers? I could only use my imagination to guess.

Nevertheless, I have one wish: I wish someone knew how much she admired (admires?) and loved (loves?) him.

It was a very small and forgotten part of a gal’s (my) life in travel that I had never shared to anyone. If you read this post, it means you hear (read) it from me for the first time. I don’t know if it is interesting enough to tell. I just feel like sharing it to you now.

Oh, wait! I still have another wish: creative people like you can turn a usual story like this into an epic novel.

walking home

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