It's official. This marks the beginning of my second year in belgium. I'm sure you're all expecting me to write things like "the year just flew by" etc., but that would be a lie.
The truth is that this has been the longest, most exhausting, most fascinating, most confusing, most exciting and by far the most educational year of my entire life. It has moved by slowly, sometimes week by week, sometimes day by day, sometimes even hour by hour. There have been moments when I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of this place, and times when I've been aching for home, for familiarity. Back home my Sister was undergoing surgery, my mother was losing her home, my brother in law was sick in the hospital, my nephew was discovering he was going to be a father again. All of this went on without me, thousands of miles away. While they were working as a family unit in California, I've been trying to find my place here in Belgium.
The year has been filled with changes, most recently our move from the suburbs (Mortsel) to smack dab in the center of Antwerp. We are in the 2000 area code now, which I must admit, makes my life so much easier. We are now in the most fabulous neighborhood (the mechelseplein area) and we are in a house on the most fascinating, charming street you can imagine. Well, to be honest, you can hardly call it a "street"
Our little yellow house is super cozy and sweet. I feel really comfortable here in my ancient bungalow. It feels good to be in a such a colorful, lively neighborhood so close to everything. It makes life without a car a lot more manageable as well. We're a stones throw away from the gigantic market, organic groceries, museums, restaurants and shopping. I love it here!
In a couple of weeks the kids go back to school at The Zeppelin School, a Steiner (Waldorf) type school about 15 minutes away by tram. I'm looking forward to the friends they'll make and the things they'll create in their new, wonderful school. Roel and I made the decision to remove them from the school we had them in last year. It was tough because they had already undergone so much change, but to be honest, it just wasn't good enough for them. We wanted them to be in an alternative, creative school and really found a perfect place in the zeppelin school. The classes have about 9 students in each class. They have a circle meeting each morning to discuss what they'll be learning that day. After lunch, the remainder of the day is dedicated to creative learning and "projects". I'm really looking forward to the boys being in such a special place. here are some summer video highlights:
I've been really lucky to make some wonderful new friends here. I spend a lot of time with my friend, Liz. She is from Wales and has two really sweet children. I've also recently gotten to know a New Yorker, Maxine. We have a fantastic, fun time together. There are lots of wonderful women I've met through the American Women's Club.
Roel is currently working at Demonstrate: http://www.demonstr8.com/, an agency in Brussels. He is organizing and designing the entire launch of Vitamin Water in Belgium down to the outfits the sales-people will wear as well as the interiors of the showrooms. It is a temporary job and he is having lots of fun. Roel will most likely work at the University this coming year as a professor of graphic design there. He has been working really hard, long hours.
I'm doing the same stuff I always do: writing music, playing songs, watching episodes of degrassi jr. high on DVD, knitting, cooking and trying to keep in touch with my friends. I guess some things never change!
I don't know what this year has in store for me, but I'm open to anything! In the meantime I've learned that I love Antwerp, I love living here, but it probably won't be a forever thing. Knowing that helps me to enjoy and appreciate my time here even more, for however long it might be. I love the walking around, the sitting in cafes, the fabulous parks, the friends I've made, the language I've learned and especially the more centered person I've become. If I've gotten to know anything this year, It's myself. I'm proud of me for being so brave, and I'm proud of my three boys for being brave with me.