Friday, November 07, 2008

Belgian Missive

Europe certainly does charm one easily with its cafes, chocolates, and that otherworldliness that is somehow familiar yet distinct from everything American.

Bicycling with a giggling Dutch seven-year-old girl clutching my jacket from her perch on the seat behind me, my hands and ears are bitter from the cold while my mind gleefully takes in my surroundings. The Belgians don't have that famous tolerance and awareness for bicycles so common to the Dutch, so we're careful as we make our way through the densely populated and crazily busy streets.

I play with my hosts' young children, our only common language being the universal language of play. Their parents, my dear friends, translate as necessary, but we laugh and engage in all sorts of imaginative play without the need for intelligible conversation. I speak to them in English, they speak to me in Dutch. We shrug our shoulders and continue with our games.

Yes, it's easy to be charmed, easy to fall into the rhythms and practices that are novel yet familiar. My heart has always partially resided in Europe, a place where I feel strangely at home in so many ways.

My brief time here is precious, and I drink it in like the thirsty traveler I am.
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