giovedì, giugno 21, 2012

Sleeping with your ex, continued

Oh dear. Brussels only has two and a half more days to piss me off. It feels so damn comfortable to be back. Hopefully my bank appointments tomorrow will be so shatteringly annoying that I'll be able to leave ungrudgingly on Sunday. The weather has been co-operative too. Not actively nice or anything, but not pissing down rain constantly. I think part of the problem is coming here so fresh from Shanghai and England - two salutary reminders that other cities are simply much, much worse than this one in terms of filth, stink, conspicuous consumption and human misery.

And I'm so comfortable here. I was here for so long - three years - and I know where everything is. And it's full of restaurants. I ate my weight at Mamma Roma's at lunch today - sort of stocking up for all those long future years in Australia without slab-style, greasy pizza with truffle sauce - and couldn't help remembering the days when, if I couldn't be fucked to cook, I'd bring us home big slices of that instead. Last night I feasted on stoemp and cheese and foie gras and creme brule - all things I can't get good in Australia.

And, you know, there are my people here. People who read books and serious newspapers and go to concerts that are good. Meow - yes - I know. My people in Australia might read books and newspapers and go to concerts that are good if they didn't have children and didn't live away to hell and gone, and no doubt in five short months I won't read books or serious newspapers either . . .

I think the trippy thing pushing everything into nostalgic hallucination territory is that my replacement is on vacation this week, so I've been working from her desk, which is my old desk. Taking calls on her phone, which is my old phone. Lunching with my colleagues, who are all the same, sitting in the same places, laughing about the same genre of things. Working at home rocks - but so did this office. I didn't have animosity with anyone, and there is lots of affection.

All this while falling back into old habits super-fast - eyes darting rapidly between the sidewalk checking for dogshit and the handsome Art Nouveau buildings as I walk around - making eye contact with drivers before using the pedestrian crossings - absorbing the admiring glances of socially uncastrated men, who seem to find the pregnant female form charming in a way I thought was the preserve of southern cultural Catholics (like, thankfully, my old man) - buying kefir at the grocery store and mixing it with an obscene amount of chocolate powder -

Good lord! I actually don't want to leave. 

I know the weather is about to get lousy. I know Belgium is on track to not have a summer for the fifth year in a row. I know all that. But I really don't want to leave here and go back to Australia. There you are. This is Bridges of Madison County and I want to drive off with Clint Eastwood in his crappy old truck.

I haven't had this sensation since I was in Paris defending my thesis, deciding I'd move back to Europe. I didn't move back to Paris, and I'm glad - even on my worst days I understood Brussels was a few steps up. And when we move, we won't move back to Brussels, and I'm glad of that too. I'm not an absolute sentimentalist. I can remember the weather made me want to shoot myself and everyone else, and I can't risk that degree of seasonal depression when I'm a mother. And I know doing ANYTHING that involved either public or private organizations was a Kafkaesque nightmare, certainly relative to the ease of operating in Australia. I don't just remember that - I KNOW it. We've been away for almost two years and we're still experiencing it. I still haven't got my 2010 tax refund yet. The F-word's bank account has been locked for a year. And my darling Lexie lives on the other side of the planet from me because of the fucking, fucking Belgian ministry of agriculture. 

But not only do I feel a deep yearning to be back in this part of the world - I'm starting to get this horrible guilty feeling that I'd be doing my child a serious disservice not having him or her in this part of the world. So much closer to my family - with so many more opportunities for human and cultural interaction - and so much more wholesome food - and so much more, let it be said, beauty.

Well. That settles that.

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