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Feeling nostalgic

A friend recently posted on her Facebook page that she can’t believe she and her husband have been living in Brussels for one year now.

Perhaps that’s what triggered my sudden case of nostalgia. It’s Friday night, there’s nothing on TV (in English at least) other than news programs cycling through the same eight or nine stories, and Jenna and I, shockingly, couldn’t agree on a movie to watch. So I went back and read through some previous blog entries — I wanted to remind myself of what life was like for us during our formative months of Belgian life.

It’s likely I’m the only one intrigued by the remarks from these past entries, but I thought I’d review them nonetheless. Hopefully your Friday night is not so boring that you’re reading this blog.

From August 5, 2009: “A question keeps running through my mind, one I posed to Jenna the other day. At what point will we quit feeling like newcomers? I doubt anytime soon; the feeling of being an outsider is difficult to shake, especially when you don’t know the local languages (they speak French and Dutch here; Jenna and I boldly claim we speak two as well … English and American).”

I don’t know when it happened, but we sure don’t feel like newcomers anymore. And I don’t even feel like an outsider. Don’t get me wrong — I also don’t feel like a Belgian … not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But we do feel like we are as much Bruxellois now as we were Dallasites two years ago. We know which restaurants the tourists go to and which ones the locals frequent; what markets are active on what days; how to get from Point A to Point B by public transportation; and, basically, how to just shrug off European customs/idiosyncrasies that once boggled our minds.

It’s a bit of a shame that now that we’re so settled in, we have less than four weeks here. But we have to remind ourselves to be grateful we even had this chance and, if anything, it will help us with our move to Memphis. In Dallas, we kind of stuck to a routine. Conversely, in Belgium, we’ve been very active, be it traveling around Europe or around Brussels and Belgium. We are always trying to find something new. We need to be as explorative in Memphis as we are here.

From October 12, 2009: “A friend I made while working at the newspaper in Corsicana once told me his goal was to retire early enough (or make enough money) that he could afford to play golf every day of the week. He made that happen by his late 30s, but I never thought I’d live this dream so soon in my life. However, I’ve since made a friend who achieved this dream years ago, and so now I’m living it too. My friend goes by “Easy Ed,” and even though he has about four decades of life experience on me, he still beats me by 2-5 strokes every time out. And because of Easy Ed (really, he goes by this nickname; when he calls, he’ll say “Hey Jake, Easy Ed here”), I’ve started playing golf much more frequently. Since he has a membership to a local course, I can get on at a much cheaper rate than what I’d normally have to pay.”

My good friend Ed hasn’t received as much type as he deserves. Ed is much closer to his 80th birthday than I am to my 40th (or even my 35th), but if someone were to compare us on lifestyle and attitude alone, they might conclude Ed is younger.

Ed gets as much (probably more) out of life in his late 70s as he did at my age. He stays current with news, movies, literature, where to dine out, etc. There’s hardly been a destination I’ve traveled to that Ed didn’t have some kind of recommendation of where to eat or what to see.

And most of all, Ed forces his body to keep up with his mind and spirits by playing a couple hundred rounds of golf every year (he says he’d love to continue jogging and playing tennis if only his knees would allow). And so when the Belgian weather doesn’t cooperate, Ed — a retiree who spent most of his career in diplomacy — high-tails it to the states, annually spending November-April there ostensibly to see family, but I believe it’s really to move to a golf-friendly climate.

This coming Tuesday, Ed gets back to Brussels from his annual trip to the states (I’m picking him up from the airport). I’ll give him 48 hours — enough time to recover from jetlag — before he sets up a tee time for us.

From April 26, 2010: “When she finished, she looked like she had simply walked from the couch in our living room to grab a bottled water out of the fridge in the kitchen. She had barely broken a sweat. Had I run that distance, my face would’ve been tomato-red and I would’ve been depositing my breakfast into the closest trash receptacle. I say that from experience — that happened to me the first time I ever ran a 5K, as Jenna can attest.”

Fittingly, I came across this entry today. A year after Jenna completed a tour of Belgian runs, she’s roped me into the running world. We ran a 10K last weekend on the coast. Sunday, I’ll slow the pace and run a 5K, while she accelerates up to a 15 K. This weekend’s runs are in Bruges, and we’ll run alongside our good friends Jon and Raven, who ran the 10K with us last weekend. Like Jenna, Jon and Raven (aka JR) clocked better times than I did in the 10K. I’ll try to pay them back at the 5K this weekend.

Categories: Uncategorized
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  1. May 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm

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