Jul 23, 2010

Au Revoir but not Adieu

Well sports fans, it's official. I am no longer a Belgian resident. (insert melodramatic violin sequence here).

On 7 July, I went to my commune and turned in my residence card that would have allowed me to happily stay five more years, after the six I have already spent. I'm pretty sure the guy had to pry my fingers off of it. I am sad. I have really enjoyed this part of my life in the small flat country and I think I have changed for the better, thanks to my time in Belgium. So a GRAND MERCI and DANK U to the place and people that will always be in heart. I will return. I will think of you often.

With me I take many things, and leave a few too.  Read on.

I have made friends I'll keep for a lifetime; I appreciate Sundays and family time way more than I did before I arrived; I am proud to have survived driving in Brussels and the 'rule of the right' with my car in tact, and without accident, ever; I have learned to love mayonnaise on my frites; I now find it impossible to eat without a knife in my left hand; I drink beer, from a glass even; I recognize that a long meal is a pleasure, not a demonstration of bad service; small cars = good parking spot but taking public transport is even better; I appreciate sunny days; My skin is much healthier thanks to all the 'humidity'; I speak better French than I ever have in my life, but appreciate how most Belgians go out of their way to speak English (and dutch, and german,and French) if they can, and they usually can; coffee served on a tray, with a sweet, is so civilized; car free Sundays; The list is really endless but this is what I can come up with on my first cup of coffee.

I leave behind a few things too. I have paid at least 1,000 euros in parking fines-my gift to the Belgian state; All the letter writing to turn off gas, water, electric, phones, credit cards, bank accounts...come on Belgium, move to the electronic age, or at least the phone age; Dog crap on the sidewalks, and dogs in restaurants, you may have your canine fetishes and feces; A nine year lease and crooked landlords, I'll pay you to keep them. In fact, I think I did when you kept my 2,000 euro deposit; The lady who filed a police report against me (3 days later) when I bumped her car with my bumper (hence the name)...I hope you don't get a euro cent from my insurance company; The lighting in restaurants, ugh. Dimmers, people, dimmers. It's a restaurant, not a prison cafeteria.

But while I leave these "negatives", I also hope I leave a part of me. I have become, by my own choice, an ambassador of Brussels. People from all over the world have written me to ask about living there, to ask me to write about life as an expat, to commission stories on the best way to see Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Spa, and other parts of the beautiful country. I have done so for work, but it's a labour of love for me to write about it and promote visiting a place I find to be extremely under rated.
I hope I have opened some eyes, at least a pair or two, to the wonders of living abroad and to the remarkable "capital of Europe" that is one of the most vibrant and international cities in the world. It's with great sadness that I leave Belgium, but I leave with gratitude to have had the opportunity to share a part of me with you, and to take a piece of you with me.

I am moving on to San Francisco and have decided to keep my blog alive. As well as keep my Belgian phone number.
I will continue to write under "A Broad In Belgium" but will write from my new post looking out over the Golden Gate. I hope I can find pieces of Europe, and maybe even Belgium, in San Francisco and beyond, and share them with you.

Un grand merci et bises a tous.


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