Here is a quick look back before going on in life. Pause and reflect (again).
I learned alot until
it was time to go...
Got me around to many
corners of Europe...
Where I met Thea...
I think I'll keep her...
For the Stanford Class of 1979 Twenty Year Reunion, I wrote this short piece in retrospect of those many fine years I spent at that institute of high learning:
"After graduating, I worked hard for ten months as a store clerk and saved up enough money to travel to Europe, my life-long dream. With grubby backpack and Euro-rail pass, explored the continent for three and a half months. Experienced the adventure of my life, growing up as quickly as I have ever done. Covered numerous countries, as far south as Italy and as far north as Norway, where at the romantic Søgnefjord amongst the glaciers I met a cute Dutch girl who is now my wife. Fate. A weekend in Amsterdam became a week, one then two months, and then I (deliberately) missed my flight back home. Have been living in Holland ever since. Started life anew from scratch, supporting myself unloading trucks, washing dishes and being a bookstore clerk. Lived in a fabulous monument house (1684) on the Singel Canal. The aura wore off after a couple of yours, such manual chores not doing justice to my fine Stanford education. Trouble was that an American University diploma, even from Stanford (wherever that was), did not help me find a deserving job. Renewed my pursuit in the world of academia and after four more years received a so-called doctoraal degree in Physics and Computer Science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. With valid diploma in hand, finally landed a "real" job as system engineer at Philips Telecommunication, The Hague. Moved to Gouda, a quaint town in the heart of Holland, known for the cheese of the same name. Slowly worked my way up the company ladders from software engineer, team leader, project leader, project manager, and now (stressed out) team manager development, CMG Telecom Utrecht. A suite of advanced value added services products to major (GSM) Telecom operators worldwide. What a life! My wife works part-time as nurse, and we have slowly but surely collected four very wild and crazy (but adorable) kids: Lennart (12), Marlies (10), Sabien (7) and Maarten (4). Via my work get to travel internationally, but prefer to spend time with the wife and kids. Been to the States regularly and sometimes feel a bit homesick. At the same time have tempered my American ways greatly, acclimating well to the Dutch customs: more relaxed, down to earth, very appreciative of the non-working aspects of nature and life, in my opinion offering a refreshing and introspective existence. Still have been unable to get used to the freezing winters and still don't dare skate the iced-over canals, while my kids zip around like future famous Olympic heroes. Have lost contact with most ol' Stanford buddies and wouldn't mind getting in touch again. Has it really been half a lifetime ago already?"
- written for the Stanford 20th reunion, May 1999.
This is where I first met Thea on that fateful day: Saturday June 14th, 1980 (10 o'clock in the morning). To tell you the truth, I was so overcome by seeing her that I accidentally sat down on a carton of yogurt which splashed all over my pants. Slightly embarrassed but undaunted nonetheless, I shyly asked Thea if she happened to have a napkin to wipe the blob of yogurt off. She thought this was pretty funny, she told me years later. The group she was with needed an extra hiker for the trip up to the glacier the next morning. I did not hesitate a fraction of a second to volunteer, planning to tag along and impress her. The map below shows you where Balestrand can be found.
The red star marks our first meeting place.
Closeup of Thea.