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Monday, July 9, 2012

Last Words

We're home! Or back, anyway. Our final night in Belgium was in the university town of Leuven, the Flemish half of the Catholic University of Leuven/Louvain. When the government decided to split the university in 1968, the Wallonians opened a new facility in Louvain-la-Neuve, taking half of everything including the library. And I mean half: two-volume works went Volume 1 to Leuven and Volume 2 to Louvain. Shows the difference between practical and sensible.

Anyway, Leuven is a pretty little city with a spectacularly ornate hotel de ville. We stayed near the Park Abbey (yes, more abbeys! This one was Norbertine, which has nothing to do with hermaphroditic dragons in Harry Potter but is a branch of Roman Catholicism that differs slightly in the wording of several rites). We had an excellent Italian meal in the town center -- with Belgian beers, of course, but there were no untried ones on the menu.

In the morning our flight took off on time and landed on time at JFK, where the temperature had hit 93. Our bags, crammed with beer and wine (as well as gifts and multiple items for ourselves, like our cereal bowls and beer glasses from the kringwinkel that will make us think of Gent each time we use them) made it through safely. We picked up Ben in the Bronx and arrived home by late afternoon. And since then it's been all unpacking, taking care of business, and getting horribly disfigured by a hornet sting. We'd forgotten what a dangerous place New York can be.

And so it ends, not with a bang but with a sting. No whimpering, though. We had a magnificent time. Remarkable. Transcendent. Delicious. I don't even have adjectives effusive enough to describe it.

We saw places new and old,

met with friends new and old,

ate dishes new and old,

drank beers new and old (but especially new).

Somehow, in a way I never managed on earlier trips, I was able to appreciate nearly every moment of our time away. Certainly part of it had to do with this blog: bringing you along on our adventures, seeing things through both my eyes and yours, made everything doubly intense, doubly rich. (It also made it much easier for my sievelike brain to remember what we did.) So thank you!

Now that we're back, I wish that I could continue to appreciate events this way. Not likely, with the press of daily life and responsibility -- it already feels like Gent was an experience outside of time, a five-month slice of life that existed on another plane entirely.

But I'll try. And when I feel like home doesn't begin to compare with the wonders of our months abroad, I'll do my best to recall what the little girl in the seat in front of me said (after screaming for two hours straight) as we began our approach into Kennedy: "Oh, New York is so beautiful! It's got bridges -- and everything!"

Bridges -- and everything.

I think that everything will probably be enough.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely. And the blog will serve as an album of your experience forever. And as a reminder as the sieve expands; I use mine that way—did this happen in 2010 or 2011? What was the name of that book I liked so much back in October? Useful.