Despite the fact that Leuven's only a small town, there are many neighborhoods I don't know well and rarely visit. One of them is the area around the Brusselsepoort, where I went to kindergarten. I went up there today, after over ten years, to see what had become of the small school I spent three years in. Rude awakening. The building has clearly been abandoned a long time ago, I had to remove cobwebs to walk through the entrance gate and when I set foot on to what used to be the playground, three stray cats scurried off. The baby blue school building looks the same, from the outside anyway (the door was locked, so I have no idea about the inside). But the playground - including the sand box - is completely overgrown with tall plants and weeds. It's kind of ironic that the place we used to pretend was anything but what it really was (grey tiles) now actually looks like a forest or a jungle. Rusty tin cans are scattered everywhere, I have a suspicion people sporadically come and feed the cats and then just toss the cans.
From the playground we used to have a view of a large field. Most days it'd just lie there, in my mind with intense Van Gogh-like brown, yellow or green shades. Once in a while, though, we'd come out of the school for a break and notice some tractor activity - excitement galore! There were plenty of cats back then, too. We'd name them, pair them off, wonder about them when one of them disappeared. It was a small school. I remember my third year class, when I was about five, only had six kids. I can't recall all five names, but I had drinks just a couple of months ago with my best friend from that time. Good memories. The field's gone now. It's been completely covered in grey and cream colored apartment buildings. A large complex, with streets of its own. It's a bizarre contrast, the unkept playground right next to an immaculate stretch of buildings. If I had walked past it every so often, on my way somewhere, and seen things develop gradually, I probably would have less issues with it. But to see it as a done deal, it got to me. I was expecting to hear kids running around, and see moms waiting by the gate. I knew finding the field entirely intact was unrealistic, real estate is real estate, but this? There's nothing left to even suggest what was once there.
I might go back there soon to snoop around a bit more. Maybe bring my camera. And some milk.