My time left in Canada is only comprised of a handful of hours now. After 223 days of planning, I will board a plane for a year in Belgium. I’ve been able to avoid thinking the immediate nature of it up until today. Now my stomach is turning as I think about what to do with my last hours. Continue reading
I began the year surrounded by friends and in the arms of the man I love. Since then I have seen the sky above the clouds, dipped my feet in the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and ridden a bicycle in the South of France. I have gone thousands of miles further from home than I had ever dreamt I would.
I’ve been putting a lot of time into reading lately and one of the books I’ve picked up has been earth shattering for me. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman has been inspiring and comforting, and I’m only on chapter four. Why is it so impressive?
This is the first book I’ve found that admits to the hardships of traveling that I experienced on my trip to Europe. Most travel writers talk of success and boldness while minimizing the idea of stress and complete dependence on the understanding of strangers. The author of this book talks about being terrified of her situation, about being overwhelmed and full of doubt. Admitting to her humanity and the doubts in her heart makes her a bold and refreshing voice. Continue reading
Once, not that long ago, I couldn’t sleep with light in the darkness of my room. A pinprick of light was more than enough to pierce through my eyelids to keep me awake for hours.
These days I sleep through the soft, black light from my computer screen. Sometimes I wake up to the familiar creak of his wooden bed, but more often I hear nothing until morning, lost in my dreams. A year of electronic slumber parties and a summer of travel has made me an adaptable sleeper.
Tonight I sit in the pure darkness of my room, under my soft fur blanket, feeling like I’ve forgotten something. Tonight there’s no light from my screen, so heavy breath to wake me. My fan blows to block out the sounds of the world, but it seems that a layer of my white noise is gone. There’s no open link to the other side of the world, no comforting presence to be found.
How can such a simple thing mean so very much? How does a soft glow bring such beautiful security and tenderness? It feels strange to go without it.
With or without the light, tonight I will close my eyes and dream soft dreams of him, as I often do.
I was talking to a friend today, who confirmed something I knew but didn’t want to admit. I have a travel blog where I go to Belgium, talked about grocery shopping and then don’t post again until the trip was basically over. For those of you just joining me here, that was three whole fucking months.
I feel justified in saying that I stopped blogging so that I could better enjoy my trip. I was overwhelmed in a land where I didn’t know the language. Ask my boyfriend, I spent a fair portion of my trip in tears because I didn’t know how to order my own food or ask the cashier a question in Dutch. (I could have asked in English, but I felt SUPER guilty about being THAT foreigner.) In retrospect I should have spent time writing, but I didn’t know how to balance moderately wildly exploring the big bad world with settling down to write. But I tell you what, here’s where I make it up to you.
Starting from where I left off, we’re going to talk about my trip! First stop: ANTWERP!
I should absolutely be sleeping, but no matter what time of night it is or how tired I am; late night is when I’m most productive.
Last week I wrote a post about why not learning Dutch was the one regret I had during my summer away. It only seems right that I talk a bit more about the steps I’m taking to right that wrong.
Coming home after traveling sucks. There’s no sense in sugar coating it to look better than it is. Coming home is confusing and frustrating for yourself and for everyone around you. I’ve been home for a little over two weeks and I’m still coming to terms with it. Continue reading
I was in Europe for 90 days. Before I left home, I knew that the mother language of my home base in Belgium was Dutch, specifically the Flemish dialect. I poured over books, websites and Rosetta Stone with great ambition, sure that I would know enough Flemish to get by for a summer in Belgium. This lasted a few weeks. Native Belgians and friends who had traveled the area told me that almost everyone could speak English. I stopped studying, comfortable in the fact that I would be just fine and learn as I went.
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. I feel pretty okay with that. I realize that it was supposed to be a tool to keep a log of my travels and let everyone at home see what I was up to, but honestly, Facebook kind of covered the most important aspects there. Not only was writing taking up too much of my time, it was taking focus in my mind while I was traveling. Instead of enjoying myself, I was wondering what I needed to write about next. That’s not a proper way to experience it.
I’m now four days from the end of my trip. Four days. It’s hard to contemplate how quickly that summer went. I had an amazing, eye opening experience. Some of the trip was fantastic and other parts were very difficult. Most of those things deserve their own post. There’s not much that I can describe in just a few sentences, but we’ll get to those later. Continue reading
I’ve been in Belgium now for just under a week. Some days have been spent at home watching tv in bed and others have been spend adventuring. I’ve been trying to acclimate myself little by little, so this is a perfect pace for me.
First things first. It turns out that I’ve been living under a bit of a rock. I’ve never needed more knowledge than I already possessed to get by in Canada. I felt cultured for having lived in more than one province and knowing bits and pieces about other cultures around the world. I never took learning a second language seriously because unless I was moving to Quebec there wasn’t really a need for it. These are all great examples of things that didn’t help me at all once I left the country. Maybe that’s why the first few days hit me so hard.