There are certain things that leave us with nothing but memories. Almost twelve years after I created some of mine, I begin to understand why many of us treasure photographs most. Perhaps the reason we take time to capture images is because we cannot seem to trust ourselves to etch beautiful memories clearly in our minds.
Sadly, the passing of years is slowly eroding what once were vivid memories of the time I spent at one of the places I do not wish to forget.
I arrived at The Hague one cold September morning. Fall immediately took its hold on me. I was mesmerized by the poignant colors of leaves clinging so determinedly to branches already beginning to prepare for a long winter ahead. Everything about the season evoked bittersweet feelings. It somehow defined the moments I spent there.
I write about captured moments now in the absence of photographs and in the gradual fading of memories. I try to recall the face of the immigration officer who surprised me for letting me through quickly. Since it was my first trip to Europe, I expected that I would be subjected to the same relentless questioning I went through when I left Manila.
I remember Soc who fetched me at the Schiphol Airport early in the morning. I can still feel the excitement of riding the train from the airport to The Hague – the flat with wide windows directly across the clock tower of the Peace Palace, the dozens of red roses, the welcome home Post-It note, and the jet lag that quickly followed.
Three months in The Hague leave marks on anyone who care to live each day appreciating its unique beauty. I am lucky to be that kind of person who embrace each day like an unexpected gift. I love the tram rides, the walks in quaint parks with trees basking in the autumn sun, the kindness of the people, the open markets and shops, the morning and afternoon runs.
The Hague is a place I wish to remember for the rest of my life. All the joys it gave and the moments of sadness as well. One day I will visit it again. For now, I carry it around in my heart. It forever holds a special place in my heart and in my soul.