Saturday
9th October

What makes me, me?

I’ve been watching a lot of Nordic Noir series lately. It’s not only the hair-raising suspense of these Scandinavian thrillers that I like; I’m also intrigued by the settings.

I enjoy the charcoal grey clouds over the white and green landscapes, the minimalist clothing, the way the golden light falls on the blond characters’ hair and the equally blond wooden floors. I savor listening to the clipped tones of the languages.

 

Perhaps I’m captivated by the ambience because it is so different from the countries I’ve lived in since I left the Netherlands in 1974.

 

What if by some twist of fate I had ended up moving to Oslo rather than Nice, Philadelphia, Mexico City and Barcelona? I do not ask that question out of any desire to live there; it’s just that I’m curious about how much I would have been shaped by a different environment.

 

Neuroscientists claim that the language you speak changes the structure of your brain.

What if I had spoken Norwegian at home for the past forty-two years and had expressed myself every day in a terse, direct way rather than the often evasive and elaborate Spanish, where going right to the point is considered rude?

 

What if I’d grown accustomed to a more withdrawn existence rather than form part of an intricate and animated social network of family and friends, as is the case in Mexico and Spain?

 

What if I had to endure months and months of dark winters rather than having lunch on a terrace under a bright blue sky in February?

 

What if I were living with a Norwegian rather than a Mexican?

Would he be equally affectionate, would there be the same closeness?

 

What if I had never found love?