On an almost daily basis I walk a tightrope between things I will miss when we leave Belgium and things that I will be so SO happy to get away from.
Just this morning, on my way to an appointment, I was crossing a small bridge over the canal that runs by our neighborhood and I noticed that there were complete spiderwebs hanging between almost every rail on the bridge. They were still wet from the morning dew, so they were shining and looking beautiful as they caught the morning sun.
(Do note that had I seen any of the spiders responsible for the whimsical bridge decoration, I’d be singing a totally different tune because I’m borderline arachnophobic)
As I crossed the bridge I also saw several ducks having a morning swim and feeding in the canal. The water was clear enough to see their orange feet paddling beneath their bodies and the quacking and antics of ducks chasing their food made me smile.
I’ll miss that.
When we move in with my parents, we won’t be walking distance from anything. They live in a housing plan that was built in an industrial zone. You have to drive to get to anywhere other than a slag field, a school bus depot or the local cable company.
Something I imagine Piet and I will be looking for once we can buy a house of our own, will be a home that is in walking or biking distance of local parks, grocery stores, etc.
After my appointment I went to the city center and went to go look for a new toy for Tay, who really loves playing with our keys and becomes very distressed when we have to pry the keys from his grubby little mitts. I found some child appropriate toy keys, went to the counter to pay, said “hello” to the woman who was standing behind the counter and she looked at me, ignored me, and turned to her colleague, saying how she still had to vacuum. So I stood there, waiting to pay while cashier number one gathered up her stuff and walked away to go vacuum (which she had not been doing when I entered the store and passed her when I went upstairs, nor when I looked for and located the toy, nor when I came back down and greeted her and tried to pay for the toy), while cashier number two had to stop whatever she was doing, come over and ring me up.
And to that I say: Fuck you, you uppity bitch! You are a cashier. Your job is to ring up my stuff, take my money and give me any change there might be. You don’t have to smile or be nice or even give me a bag. But part of your job description is definitely “taking customer’s money.”
And the most annoying thing was that the twit still hadn’t even picked up the vacuum by the time I paid and was walking out of the store.
In about 4 hours I had gone from wistfully regretting the impending absence of morning strolls over web-bedecked bridges and frolicking water fowl to wishing with all my heart for a place where cashiers actually crack a smile and do not avoid taking the customer’s money by ignoring the customer’s greeting and then pretending to go vacuum.
I may have manic depression, but if I do, I blame Belgium for giving it to me.
Anyway, that said, the weather was nice and warm so I opted to walk home rather than take the bus (public transportation in Belgium is yet another contradictory can of worms and if I actually get back into the blogging habit, remind me to write about it some time).
On the way I stopped at a little organic store and bought some coconut water and other assorted stuff. A bit farther towards home I spotted a bakery, popped in and grabbed a loaf of fresh bread, continued on a bit further to a vegetable store to pick up some salad stuff for lunch tomorrow and then I finally came home and unpacked my stuff.
Oh to be liberated of chain stores and the dreaded titan Walmart.
I really love that I can walk home and on every single route I can find at least one, if not several bakeries, a smattering of fruit and veggie stores and couple butchers, all independantly owned and run, with their own personalities and specialties.
We don’t have a car anymore (long story) so I buy groceries every 3 days or so and I really like the fact that I don’t just take a car, grab a huge cart and load up on mass produced, over marketed garbage.
Don’t get me wrong.
I can do that here if I want to (or I could when we had the car), but it’s actually much easier not to.
So by the time I arrived back home, I had added yet another thing to my “stuff I’ll miss” list and was brainstorming on where I’d like to do my grocery shopping once we return to Pittsburgh.
It’s not so far away anymore, is it?