It must have been my eleventh birthday when I received the fancy radio that was a combination AM, FM, short- and long-wave gizmo of which I was very proud.
In the evenings, I would scan slowly through the various frequencies, turning the knob on the side ever so carefully. I would zoom in on Russia, China, someplace where they spoke what sounded like Arabic, and the interference was so bad that it sounded like it could have been coming from a spaceship or another planet.
One day I happened to come upon this one English-speaking station that came across the Atlantic and was amazingly clear. It was called Radio Nederland and the read letters from listeners around the world, played requested music and conducted talk shows about this and that.
I would listen to it every week, and on the radio dial I had scratched in a pen mark that indicated the exact position I had to turn the knob in order for the best reception.
I had absolutely no idea where this place called Nederland was, except that it was located somewhere in northern Europe and that it was a small country. Could it be coincidence or an insight flash-forward into the ways of things to come?
One fun thing they did was read off your name for your birthday and they would play your favorite song. So about six months in advance, I sent them a letter request, hoping and waiting until the big day would come.
Lo and behold, on my birthday evening I nervously tuned in and listened with anxious ears. I turned on the recorder and waited. They had also received a letter from someone from California and it was his birthday. They announced my name and I was excited beyond words.
The song I had requested was Cracklin' Rosie by Neil Diamond:
Cracklin' rosie, make me a smile
Girl if it lasts for an hour, that's all right
We got all night
To set the world right
Find us a dream that don't ask no question, yeah...
Now here I am having lived for twenty-two years in Holland, the country from which those tunes of Radio Nederland emanated, way back then.
Little did I know nor think nor realize during that momentous birthday that I was touching the future for a short moment.