I find the letter when I’m cleaning out the dresser. It’s addressed to me, but I don’t recognize the elegant handwriting. The edges of the envelope have already yellowed. How long has it been here? I go to find a letter opener and open the envelope. Still, I hesitate for a moment before taking the paper out. Am I allowed, do I want to read this? My curiosity quickly wins out. “Okay, let’s see,” I say.
June 1974. That’s how it begins. My eyes scan over the lines. Here and there I linger for a while, but I move on as quickly as possible to the last sheet of paper. And surely, at the bottom, there is the name I was looking for: Evelien. My own name. Utterly surprised I let go of the letter. It falls into my lap. Did I write this myself, so long ago? Why? I shake my head. “Maybe I should just sit down and read it properly,” I think to myself.
“Dear Evelien, how nice to meet you like this. You must be surprised, or do you remember me?” it says.
“Nope, I don’t,” I utter, still a little taken aback by this find. My thoughts go back to the summer of 1974. I was not yet 10 years old, and we lived in an ordinary terraced house somewhere in the province of North- Holland. Still curious about the reason for this letter, I read on. It is a colorful collection of daily events and the typical observations of a young girl. I don’t remember much of most things.
“Still, it’s very special to find this.”
Upon putting the letter back into the envelope, I notice that there is another piece of paper in it. I take it out and unfold it.
“Please don’t forget to always sing and dance, because I’m sure you’ll want to be very serious most of the time later on. Love from Evelien.’ The whole paper is decorated with colorful flowers. I hold my breath. There is a lump in my throat.
“Oh, sweet little Evelyn. Thank you.’
A little later on I pin the beautiful message on the cork board above my desk. “Well, now I won’t forget that,” I’m very pleased with the look of that paper on my board. Walking back to the dresser to continue my clean out I’m softly humming a little tune. And that cleaning job suddenly seems to be a lot easier.