Home > Uncategorized > The blog to end all blogs (or at least this one)

The blog to end all blogs (or at least this one)

Well, the post-a-day promise didn’t exactly work out. But in my defense, I did ask for you readers to keep me in check, and I received nary an email or phone call urging me to keep the posting going. I am, however, relieved to know you all have had better things to do (not that it was ever in doubt).

This blog, my last one as a resident of Belgium, hurts to write. Life has been great in Brussels — and I have faith that life will stay great, if not improve, in Memphis and beyond — but closing this blog means closing this chapter of our lives. We’ll remain in touch with the incredible friends we have made here; we’ll definitely return for a visit from time to time; and a good Belgian beer, to remind me of our time spent here, will never be too far out of reach in Memphis.

But as everyone who has packed up and moved far away from their home knows, memories aren’t exactly the same thing. The treasured friends we have made are no longer a metro ride away. I won’t be able to walk outside my front door and have this beautiful architecture surrounding me, staring me down. We can no longer pop off to Germany or France or a quaint Belgian village at a moment’s notice. Life — like it did two years ago when we boarded a flight in Dallas, having seen no more of Belgium than what’s available in a tourism book — is about to change.

We’re ready to take on the challenges life in Memphis will offer. After moving to a foreign country — where the local languages are just the beginning of the differences — we’ve never been more ready to confront change.

My greatest fear when moving to Belgium was how (and if, really) we would meet friends. Yet a few days after moving here, Jenna and I were standing in line at the Brussels city hall — a gathering place of dozens, if not a hundred-plus, of different nationalities — registering as residents of Belgium. Out of this mob, we happened to get in line behind a couple from Tucson, Arizona, who were making the same move as us.

I heard their American-accented English, but I didn’t want to disrupt them. Perhaps they’re settled here and don’t want to be bothered, I thought. But once the wife in this couple heard us talking, she turned around and greeted us like we were old friends. A few nights later — on the 4th of July of all dates — the four of us went to dinner. It started at 7 p.m. We left dinner at nearly 2 a.m. Needless to say, we were all happy we found each other.

That was two years ago. Four nights ago, at our farewell party, I said goodbye to these dear friends, Chuck and Angie, who we’ve seen and done a lot with over these two years. There’s now three of them, as C&A (as we call them collectively) brought a beautiful girl, Elia, into the world earlier this year.

On Chuck’s birthday in early 2010, he happened to invite a guy, Charles, he had just met the night before to join himself, Angie and me on a brewery tour. Four nights ago, I also said goodbye to Charles. In the time between our first meeting and our goodbyes last week, I’ve forged a strong friendship with Charles that I honestly didn’t think was capable over a span of 14-15 months. We’ve played a lot of basketball together, not enough golf together, and had way too many beers together, as Jenna and Charles’ wife, Cat, will attest. In short, Charles is as good a friend as I’ve ever made.

And, in short, that’s what we’ll remember most about our time spent here: the memories of the friendships and relationships we created in a whirlwind two years in Belgium. I’m truly amazed at how many people we’ve met and befriended here. It didn’t really dawn on me until these last few weeks.

Last Wednesday night, the colleagues from my part-time job bid us farewell with goodbye drinks at a stuffy, cramped bar in the city center. Having some laughs with people I was usually working for made me realize the attachment I had to the web site I managed (and the publication I occasionally wrote for), but more importantly, how much I enjoyed the people I worked with.

The following night, Chuck and Angie, Charles and Cat, and Jon and Raven (who’ve been mentioned in this blog several times) threw us an incredible going-away party, bringing together the great friends we’ve met while living here. We were honored and humbled to have each and everyone of them there for some (hopefully temporary) au revoirs. I’ll miss everyone of them and hope to see each again, be it in Memphis (you’re all invited) or back in Brussels (find reserve a spot for me on your couch when I come for an unannounced visit).

Even in our final weeks and months here, Jenna and I were still making new friends. In the past three weeks, I played a few rounds of golf with an affable Aussie named Grant, a guy I barely knew at all back in March. We’ve recently met and befriended two other great couples (the Gibsons and the Williamses) who have made the reverse trip as us — moving from Memphis to Belgium.

I hate to wear out the word amazed, but it really does capture how I feel when this morning, my last as a resident of Belgium, I think back about the past two years living here.

Fittingly, as I look out the window right now, I see it’s raining. Belgium has enjoyed an uncharacteristically warm and sunny spring, but as they tired saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Our lives as expats in Belgium are at their end, but I feel Jenna and I are at the very beginning of some lasting relationships we can’t wait to continue over the years.

See you in Memphis.

Oh, and till then, enjoy some of these photos from our last couple nights living La Vie Belge.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 8, 2011 at 5:34 am

    read this with some sadness and emotion…the end of your Belgiain life and end of our visits there. Friends are forever, though! sounds trite but it’s true and you and jenna are quite rich with them, with more to come and the excitement and constant newness of life in memphis. can’t wait to visit you there! this part of tennessee does have golf courses and belgian beer 😉 maybe even a belgian!

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