Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Belgium's Secret Garden

 Dear Belgium,

It’s taken over two years to gather the courage to express how I feel.  I’ve often found myself struggling to identify and understand your unique qualities.   The weather mimics your peculiar ways.  In one moment you’re happy and full of sunshine, and then, with a slight twist your mood shifts.  Often your streams of light are replaced with dropping temperatures, followed by rain, and on some occasions, as if trying to make a point, you spit hail. You have perplexed me, Belgium.

She’s got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay
A million miles away

Secret Garden by Bruce Springsteen…. 

You draw me close only to ultimately push me away. In our two year relationship you’ve reminded me of the multitude of emotions we humans possess.   Like the day you sent an unexpected stranger into my home.  Or what about the day you gifted me a water leak in my kitchen that rivaled Niagara Falls (and took a year to be remedied)?  And what gives with the astronomical water bills that followed?   And what about last Christmas?  Remember the grumpy Belgian postman you delivered to my door that gifted me a bill and a slip of paper to pick up a package.  Do you remember what happened when I showed up to pick up my parcel?  I was told there was no room to hold my box marked “Christmas Gift”, so it was shipped back-to-sender.  My sister’s painting traveled across an ocean, just for you to smugly turn it away. 

 But here is the thing, just when I think our relationship has reached the brink, just when I think  you’ve gone too far, you hold out your hand and offer a breath of respite and compassion. 

When I feel defeated and beaten, and want to pack up my bags and leave, you display an affection that warms my heart and makes me forget the discomfort you’ve caused.  Do you remember the random Belgian people you’ve sent my way that have reminded me how wonderful you are capable of being?  Like the day I was walking near my house and invited in to have beer with strangers?  Or the time our landlord surprised us on Christmas Eve with bread that resembled a swaddled baby Jesus?  And don’t forget the man on the tractor that helped pull our van out of the mud.  He looked like he walked right out of a Vincent Van Gogh painting.  And even the old man that stumbled into our home unannounced turned out to be a nice memory.  Suffering from dementia and having been lost for 24 hours, he had only wandered in for a drink to quench his thirst and to escape the bitter cold.  The police claimed our unlocked door had saved his life.  You sent these souls into my life knowing they would sustain and refresh my weary heart and mind.

I know I’m often guilty of wanting you to change so I can better understand your ways.  I’m sorry.

Now I can see the appeal of your secrets, the qualities that are impossible to define.  The little lines on a map that attempt to define your space have been cut, carved and walked on throughout history.  I’m just another speck. Someone passing through.  You know how this story ends.  I won’t stay.  Just as you begin to open the gates of your garden, I leave. 

Finally I see beauty in your passive stillness.  You’ve gifted me random kind strangers.  You’ve allowed me to meander through your countryside.  And you’ve introduced me to a golden (actually brune) liquid that leaves me with a foamy mustache and a goofy grin.   Your qualities could never be explained on paper - although I try.  Maybe this is part of your secret? While I may never understand your ways, I have come to respect and accept them. 

With Love,
Judy Rae

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