The Park


We were the first out of all of our friends to buy our own house. The building checked all of the boxes: pre-war build, lots of vegetation, on a broad street in a left-leaning neighbourhood. In short, a politically and socially “correct” home. All of our friends would settle in the same kind of houses over the following couple of years. It took some getting used to. There we were, banished to the suburbs, a childless couple surrounded by families in a posh neighbourhood that would turn its nose up at where we came from. Whenever we expressed these concerns, however, our friends would scoff. What did we have to complain about? We had a beautiful house in a beautiful neighbourhood and in such close proximity to a lovely park. It wasn’t like we ever went to the park, I’d never even been to the place.

Nine (or maybe ten) months after we moved, Floor was born (at least we lived in a place surrounded by hospitals). It would transform our entire perception of the neighbourhood we lived in. You couldn’t get us out of the park if you tried. Floor loved going for walks and if we so much as slowed our pace, screams would emanate from our big black pram telling us to keep moving. We walked the paths of the park until they were etched into our brains. We became regular customers of the park’s tea parlour. When Ward was born our usage of the park only intensified. It became clear to me that our neighbourhood is best enjoyed in company of children.

I turned 40 and celebrated it, fittingly, in the tea parlour. Still, with the children getting older, we went to the park less and less. Me and my husband aren’t runners and we don’t have a dog, so there wasn’t much reason to visit the park. That is, until I got sick. I had a lot of time on my hands and a beautiful wooded area closeby, so what was stopping me?

Everyday I find some time to visit the park. Mainly for the tea parlour, but the walk there is as pleasurable as the tea. I use “walk” symbolically, because I’m confined to a wheelchair or a scooter these days. These modes of transport did make me rethink the park’s paths, which were still burnt in my memory. Sometimes I go scootering through the woods with Ward, to the amusement of our fellow park visitors. In the tea parlour I’m greeted like an old friend. Without me even having to ask, a glass of orange juice with a straw is set on a table for me. How I do love routines like this. I have grown to enjoy living in this neighbourhood.

September 1999
Jeanet van der Vlist