I arrived in Belgium 3 days ago. Being in a new place with a new language is odd- everything is so new that I just can’t process it all. Things that should seem amazing, like having an entire drawer in the kitchen filled with chocolate, waffles, etc, seem normal. Also, it is difficult for me to express myself. Although my host family says I speak well and am good at pronouncing my r’s (hehe), I often cannot understand what is going on and just nod and say “oui!” My host family is very understanding and welcoming and don’t mind taking a long time explaining things to me in more simple terms. They say that they are discovering Belgium with me, and have taken me to some amazing places already. Today we went to La Cortége des Giants in the village of Ath, a parade which was nothing like anything I have ever seen before. The floats were all architecturally beautiful and decorated with flowers. Some of them were verrrry tall, and all of them were pulled by big horses, who ma petite sœur was very concerned for. Les giants were immense statues of figures from the bible and history, made of I’m not sure what, and wearing skirts. Inside each skirt was a man who twirled the giant around in time to the music of the marching bands. When they played “Rockin’ Robin” I laughed a little, it sounded so jazzy. One of the floats (I’m not sure if it can really be called a float) was a giant horse. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of it because it was so tall, but it weighed 600 kilos and had 22 people inside walking it along. On the top there were four little boys, strapped in with belts, wearing elaborate costumes and hats and shaking their little reigns. My favorite part of the parade was the bird in the middle picture, avec la petite garcon. It was the first thing to appear, and just seemed so wonderfully magical, delightful and like nothing you would ever see in the United States. In fact the whole thing was like something from a story book.
I am having trouble finding the right adjectives to use- sometimes it feels like french and english are having a war inside my head, especially when I am trying to fall asleep. I have downloaded a meditation podcast to calm things down in there. Now I need to go to bed, my body is thrown out of order with jet lag and today I nearly fell asleep at the barbecue we went to.
Humans make a lot of light. Taken while flying over Atlanta last night, after getting diverted to South Carolina and being stuck there for a few hours. I missed my original flight to Belgium, but luckily I have a network of family members who rescheduled my flight, booked me a hotel room and memorized airport layouts to give me directions, all while I sadly ate a sandwich and tried to keep my lower lip from quivering TOO much. This is my first time ever really flying, and I am all by myself, but I have learned that people are really nice and that stewardesses will drop everything to help you get to where you need to be. Now I am sitting in concourse E (do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?) of the Atlanta airport, eating frozen yogurt and trying to stay awake. My flight leaves in 3 hours. I am proud of myself because I was able to navigate successfully in this giant airport today and only had to ask for directions once. I will be relieved to land in Brussels and meet my Belgian family. Traveling is hard and tiring and a bit scary but I still don’t think that yesterday was a bad day, even with all of the mishaps. It was an experience!
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
(Dead Poets Society, 1989)
In just 9 days I leave the country for a year. These last summer days are a warm space in between two eras of my life, between high school and growing up. Trying desperately to enjoy each of them before they run out, while simultaneously trying to not stress about packing a lot in before I leave. Feeling very meditative, scared, but also frequently astonished over small bits of life. At night I have to lay flat for a while to calm all the loudness in my head, until I eventually fall asleep. I picture what’s happening on the super moon, and imagine little men fitting it out with special enhancers to fatten it up and buffing it to shine brighter, then calling down to earth that they are ready for the “once in a lifetime event” (even though there seems to be one every year or so). I think every moon is super.
Helmut Newton. Château d’Aunoy, 1978.