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When Time Stood Still in the Annex

NETHERLANDS | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [341] | Scholarship Entry

If a moment were to be named where I stepped out of the reign of time and into a space where no such concept existed, it would be when I passed through that bookshelf doorway. Chatter amongst my fellow travelers suddenly hushed down as we stepped through that renowned, hidden entryway and into a completely different environment. It was as if we were entering a very spiritual place; and I guess you can say that in a lot of ways, we were.

The Secret Annex went from being something we read about in history textbooks as kids, to something that was real; that we could walk around in and examine. The very really story of eight people hiding away from the Gestapo became a history to explore in real life as the condensed rooms showcased not only their living quarters, but also household items and mementos, while pictures of movie stars whose names I can't remember gazed at us from the wall.

We were no longer in the year 2009, nor were we in 1940's Amsterdam either. The Secret Annex was a space where time ceased to exist as a sense of awe drew you in on the realization that what happened here was real.

There is the ongoing rhetorical question of what would be exchanged if walls could talk. Well, while going from room to room in the Annex, I couldn't help but wonder what stories the movie stars in the posters would have to share; what the household items have to offer up; what the mirror reflecting the image of the attic have to say about that time period; what Anne Frank's diary could tell without using the words of its deceased owner.

Gazing upon the checkered diary that contained the original text I've read so many times in its English translation, tranquility took over my body as I stared down at the handwriting of a more than ordinary teenage girl. The moment can only be compared to being within a Buddhist temple for the first time, where you don't know if you should offer a respectful bow, or if you could- if granted- stare at the interior for eternity. I felt strangely at peace. It was almost as if Anne Frank was right there next to me.

The Netherlands may be best known for its varieties of cheeses and wooden shoes. However, I'll best remember it for the experience in eternalness; in the moment where time became an illusion and space became all, as history became more real than ever possible.

And it all happened in the last place Anne Frank called home.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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