30 September 2009

Impa's stuff and the van

(part two of Impa and her stuff)  
On the day of the move, we needed nothing short of a miracle and it presented itself in the shape of Friend M. She made her way through the boxes and furniture on the pavement and passed the moving troops who were looking from the van to the things and from the things to Impa with sweaty brows and questioning eyes. She got in the back of the van and spoke the liberating words: 'Here, let me. I'm good at this.' She took a good look at the furniture and the boxes, rolled up her sleeves, pointed at the big book cases and said: 'Those first.' The moving friends stirred. Hope glistened in their eyes. The book cases were lifted into the van. Friend M. stood in the back of the van like a general eyeing the battlefield. The moving troops dragged and lifted according to her precise instructions. She had them turn and shift furniture until every piece fit and for every hole an crack found a box or board to fill it. She didn't leave a single centimeter unused. And that is how the army of Impa's things was beaten under the command of Friend M. and the big, yellow doors of the van eventually fell shut.

I said goodbye to my friends at the old home in the old town. I started the motor of the big yellow van. The diesel engine roared and I rolled down the window. Friend A. stuck his head inside and said: 'I only realise just now. Just a few more minutes and you won't be living in Utrecht any more.' I nodded and swallowed. My sweetheart was sitting next to me in the van and put on a CD. I started to drive. The friends of the moving team started walking along with the driving van. They waved. I can't be absolutely sure, but I'd swear they were walking in slow motion. 

I drove to the end of the street.

I rounded the corner. 

I went.

29 September 2009

Impa and her stuff

The cupboards opened and an army of things came rolling out. It spread across the floor, in between my legs and around my feet and filed up in rows of a hundred. If you saw the things standing there, legs wide apart, immovable, you would've never believed they'd actually come out of the cupboards and drawers of my small flat. That once the cupboard doors had been able  to close; door handles down; keys turned in their locks. The things looked determined. I'd never be able to get them back behind closed doors, that much was clear.

If you're good at putting things away, you can afford to live in a small place. Not a centimetre of the shelves and drawers of my small one-room flat had remained unused and I'd made use of the shed with man-sized piles of things with deviating shapes precariously balancing on top of each other. I pulled my bicycle from in between the piles every day without them collapsing. 

Before my stuff had come out of my cupboards in files, I'd already subjected them to a strict selection that was to put an end to the worst excess. For every item, I asked The Three Questions 'Do I use it?', 'Do I think it's beautiful?' and 'Does it have sentimental value?'. Anything not living up to any of those three criteria got sent to friends, the charity shop or the tip, without mercy. The trip to that last one was a joint attempt with  Friend M. who helped me load up the small red car as full as possible without it collapsing on its small black tyres. 

And the rest?

The rest of the stuff got to come with me and on the day of the move was put outside by the team of friends that helped me move house. There it stood, spread out along the wall of the hallway and out the door of the building onto the street where the big yellow moving van was parked. We looked at the things and we looked at the van. We looked at the things again. Someone raised an eyebrow. Someone else shook his head, almost imperceptibly. Someone else sat down to have a sigaret and a cup of coffee first and I saw someone pull his moustache and spit on the pavement. We slowly got the feeling something might not be right with how the dimensions of the bus compared to those of the things. Or rather - no one dared say it out loud but let's be fair - that the things just might not fit in the van.


22 September 2009

Impa and Blog-Art

Impa was asked to take part in Blog-Art with the short videos on Impalinea. Blog-Art is an on-line podium for creative webloggers that'll see the first edition of an off-line event on 9 October 2009: a festival in theatre Theater aan het Spui in The Hague. Here, creative bloggers get the chance to show their work, meet each other and others and work together live.  It'll all be about blogs as a podium for art and the role of new media; there'll be presentations, lectures and forum discussions and you'll get the chance to see video art, photography, music, cabaret and poetry.

Curious? Visit the Blog-Art site for the programme or order your tickets at Theater aan het Spui. Organisation: Karin Ramaker and Marco Raaphorst.

11 September 2009

Impa and the police

I was walking on the hard shoulder along the A27 when the police stopped me. Several black cases and bulletproof vests were shifted in the back so I could take a seat. On a small screen in the front of the car I read my name, address and date of birth. For a moment I wondered if I was wanted, but then decided that if that were the case, I'd probably know what for. 

'Your car is parked on the verge down the road', one of the policemen said. He kept his cool sunglasses on for the time being, even though there was no sun. Ah, I thought. Of course. They checked my number plates. Too bad, really. This way I don't have to wonder if they're going to take one of those mug shots where I'll be holding a numbered sign beneath my chin and there'll be a striped background and I'll look into the camera defiantly because there's no way they'll ever break me.
'That's right,' I said. 'I've got a flat tyre.' 
'Then why are you walking along the verge here?' the other policeman asked.
'My phone was dead. I walked to the petrol station to call the Dutch AA.'

The policeman wearing the sunglasses said: 'Can't you put on a new tyre yourself?' I felt a surge of indignation, because I'm a young woman with a good pair of brains and a healthy body. Of course I can put on a tyre. But then I realised it's not his fault for not realising that straight away, about the good brains and the healthy body. Divine, okay, but you can never be sure about healthy.

'I've gladly been paying the Dutch AA about 80 Euro's a year for 10 years now, and for those 800 Euro's all together I'd be happy for them to come and change my tyre for me. Besides, it's a little dangerous out there, constable. What with all that traffic rushing by and those cars hooting. Because if those hooting cars get distracted by me just walking there, I wouldn't want to see them getting off course if I start changing flat tyres in high heels here as well.'
The policeman took off his sunglasses. Maybe he really liked high heels. Or maybe he thought I was saying very sensible things.

They drove me to my car. With a big detour, because you're not allowed to drive backwards on motorways. On the way there, we talked about the new Dutch police motto 'Waakzaam en Dienstbaar', after the American 'to Protect and Serve'. After all, even the police need to be mediagenic and you just can't go without a catchy motto.
'You're the first person to bring it up', the policeman without sunglasses said. He looked at me in his rearview mirror.
I said: That's just because I think you serve me so well, what with taking me to my car', and I smiled my sweetest possible smile. The policeman reached over to the glove compartment and took out a pair of sunglasses.

There was a big, yellow AA breakdown truck parked near my car. The man who stepped out, said there was no need to tow it. He would change the tyre on the spot. He asked where the spare tyre was. The AA man and both policemen looked at me questioningly. I looked over to my little, red car. It was crammed to the roof with stuff.
'Underneath the floor covering in the boot', I said. Both policemen took a step towards my car.
The policemen with the sunglasses asked: 'Do you mean underneath those stools, buckets, cleaning things, brooms, painting materials, tool box, bag with clothes, two laptops and all that garden furniture?'
I nodded. I thought he was saying very sensible things. 

The policemen looked at each other, put their sunglasses in their breast pockets, and rolled up their sleeves. One by one, all my things were put on the verge along the A27. Bucket. Holdall. Table. Chair. Another chair. And another one. Laptops. Cleaning materials. Broom. Tool box. Painting things. When the car was empty, one of them sat down on a small, red stool on the hard shoulder. The other one stood at a suitable distance and played with his sunglasses. The AA man changed the tyre. (He had a magic inflatable jack.) When he was done, the first policeman got up and the second put away his sunglasses. One by one, they put all my things back in my car. I was starting to find it so enjoyable I was almost sorry they had to leave. Fortunately, the policeman who'd sat on the little red stool put everything in the right proportions again just in time by telling me if I didn't have a rear view mirror on the passenger's side, I was legally bound to have a free view through the rear window. So that actually I was liable to punishment. 'Obviously protecting too, then' I said, smiling. 

The AA man got back in his truck. He'd lead the way to the nearest garage, where I'd get my tyre fixed and call off the meeting where I was suppose to be that evening and I'd never make it to in time now.

The policemen got in their car. 
'Thanks, lads.'
They waved, smiled and drove off.

At my mum's, where I'd be staying that very last night before I got the key to my new house, there was spaghetti and beer. 

And that's how my move to the city Groningen started.