Monday, May 22, 2006


When I first moved to Belgium, it was summer and Gert and I had all the time in the world. We also had a delusion based on research ... that moving countries was a 12 week process in terms of documentation ... maybe 3 months; a long holiday but I had enough money, I could learn the language, find my way around Antwerpen, make the most of this little hiccup in life.

That was July 2005 and I'm only now on the downhill side of the 'process'. There's a good chance I'll be operational and ready for business as soon as the Belgians return from their long summer break in September ... there's a chance, nothing definate but a very good chance.

But I wanted to write about loneliness ...

I've never had any problems finding friends. I've always felt lucky that good people found me and pulled me into their lives, or allowed me to arrive in my own ways.

Belgium has been something else.
For the first time in my life I've suffered from real-life loneliness.

I couldn't work legally and so didn't make those daily connections with new people, building a social group that began with my colleagues.

I had to learn that political receptions are superb places for people-watching, that the language of body is an international language that goes beyond the limits of speech and that most Belgians are very fluent in English but there was also the fact that while people did seem to connect while I was out with them, there was never an 'afterwards'.

I struggled with it. I had never experienced any kind of unlooked for isolation before ... Istanbul friends used to tease me that I knew more people than them, even though they had lived their whole lives in the city, and back in New Zealand no one's a stranger for long.

And so it was that my blog came to life. I created a 'job' and began to write everyday ... just to see if I could. My money ran out as the process of 'immigrant trying to arrive' dragged on. I ran for a while, damaged my knee, stopped while it healed.

Time passed and as the leaves began to reappear on the trees outside my window, I began to wonder if I hadn't had a need for loneliness at this point in my life ... that although it was difficult, I did need to work out what I wanted to do with my life and perhaps more importantly, to begin to get a taste of what is possible when I don't have the distraction of family or friends sharing my life with me ... just for a while.

Lately I've been reading a new blog. Superhero Journal fascinates me to the point where reading it is how I reward myself for achieving my goals for the day.

I was just reading her post titled 'The lonelies' and it made me realise again, just how much I needed to be lonely to get on with pursuing the very thing that has always made me most happy ... this writing-photography thing.

Andrea was advised to "consider that loneliness is just part of the deal right now. Sometimes you need loneliness to grow creatively".

So here I am, still alive, still in Belgium, still unemployable but on the other side of the lonelies. Winter was a long and a cold one but I'm ready to start something new ... so let's see what happens.


Manic said...

Belgians use a long long time to make friendships. It can take around 2 to 3 years to really be friends and come over and stuff. Just ride it out, it'll all be okay in a few months or years, at least it won't be a decade, scrap that a millenium. :p

woman wandering said...

Ahhh Manic ... thank you ;)

Actually, some other Belgians had told me that ... that after 2 years my neighbours might invite me home for a coffee or speak with me in the street.

Nice to see you again, it seems like ages since you stopped by with a comment.

Manic said...

Yea, I stopped by a couple of months ago. I'm surprised you still remember me. I'll put the link of your blog on mine, so I can check it out more then just every couple of months. Hope you like Belgium and don't blame us for fearing newbies. It's because of our history, being the playball of European powers makes you that way.

woman wandering said...

Of course I remember you ... I wandered over and checked out your site last time, and again yesterday :)

I live with a lovely Belgian guy, and people are kind, they just don't to be 'cup of coffee' type friends ... and I love showing foreign friends around Belgium when they visit. Anyway, I really did need this time of quiet to write and think ... I've been 'too busy' for years.

Manic said...

How had guessed that Belgium is a anti-stress therapy. :p

Did you like me site? Maybe not that good of a question coz it was Eurovision week on my blog, so everything had to go about Eurovision and I had some trouble with links and videos and stuff. But I promiss it'll be better after June, it's examn stress period now, ahh. Gonna leave it with that for now. ;)

woman wandering said...

Exam stress period ... ahhhh, I'm sorry. Good luck.

I enjoyed your site and will be curious to see what you do after your Euro vision posts. I'll keep checking in too. :)

Cat in Rabat said...

This was a lovely posting - loneliness is a diffiuclt thing to articulate and even harder to impress upon people who aren;t in your shoes.

Lovely kitty photos too ...

woman wandering said...

Thanks cat ... I try to stay on this side of self pity so comments like yours are reassuring.

That kitten ... she photographed well but was actually a complete demon, and so intellelligent. She used the 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth' technique when posing, as is clear I'm sure.