Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Blogging from Brussels

Somewhere in Brussels work on building starts between 7 and 7.30am on a Wednesday, with raucous shouts of laughter and much ... was it Dutch?

I don't remember precisely, it was only that my bedroom seemed suddenly filled with many many construction workers ... which is what happens when you sleep with your window open next to a seriously big construction site.

So here I am, spending 24 hours in Belgium's capital, a farewell visit with my lovely friend Shannon.

Sitting here this morning and I'm realising that one of the constants in my life is the saying goodbye... from those days back in New Zealand - 4 regions in 16 years, through into my Istanbul life and here now this Belgian life there have been so many goodbyes, although never 'goodbye' and I won't see you again.

Shannon has given up on trying to stay here, 8 months after it became kind of inevitable. You see, she had given up a New York life of study and work for her Belgian-based man and here she is, 2 years later heading back to finish that life of qualifications because she is unable to stay in this European life that she's come to love. If you're the partner of the one with the work visa then you leave once that love is over.

I used to tease Gert that I was the perfect girlfriend because my situation was similar. Had we broken up then I was out of his house and the country.

So yesterday Shannon and I wandered the city, ate lunch in that place where the perfect pasta is made, on through the city and an hour spent in the big old fabulous secondhand bookshop. An English lesson with her lovely Turk in another cafe where he and I talked of Mecidiyekoy and Istanbul, Turkish food and Turkish people long after the lesson was over.

Home again, clothes changed, Michelle joined us and we walked through city streets made balmy by a summers day heat before passing through the door and heavy drapes into Morocco where we ate the best food I have tasted in an age. I'll blog on that another day as I'm going back for an interview one day soon ...

And Michelle danced with the waiter who came over with a burning torch while the restaurant sang happy birthday to her. I took the photographs and Shannon smiled with delight at surprising her friend.

Then there was the midnight stroll back through the city, the Grand Place, tourist restaurants and St Micheal's on the hill above it all ...

Another grand day spent in Brussels with that beautiful friend I will miss when she moves on and out next week ...

6 comments:

Mark J said...

Well written Di - an interesting story.

[P.s. no need to publish - just wanted to say I liked it ]

Manictastic said...

What a wonderful goodbye-party.

V-Grrrl said...

Ah, don't focus on all the goodbyes but on all the "hellos" that come with expat life as well.

This is a lovely, descriptive piece. One day I see it re-surfacing in one of the books I'm sure you'll write.

womanwandering said...

Of course I needed to publish Mark ;) A compliment from the man who is also famous for mocking me ...

It was Manic, it really was :)

I think I'll keep you in Belgium v-grrrl, we can co-write that book while making use of Kathryn's gift ;)

Peter said...

Heart warming post, Di.

While saying hello/goodbye is part of the expat life, it becomes really special when you can say goodbye with a smile, knowing that you both had a great time.

While we all share the inevitability of having to say goodbye to people we care about, it's really great that you can feel good about the time you spent together, without focusing too much on the loss that is part of the experience.

Personally, I'm currently going through an unexpected, unpleasant tidal wave of goodbyes - time to say hello to someone new :-)

womanwandering said...

Hi Peter, enjoy finding someone new :) I was lucky, Shannon has introduced all her friends to each other and these last couple of weeks I've meet some lovely new people and I'm working than I've ever worked.