El scorchio in Antwerp today. I am not as grateful today that I am sporting a winter jacket in this weather, but very grateful to be sitting in the late afternoon sun drinking Belgian beer whilst P- teaches his kung fu class. I could be at the Foto museum...but it is too sunny. I could be walking around taking photos but I have a table in the sun at our favourite bar at home time on a Friday. I am not moving. And, after a couple more beer and jenever combinations, I won't be ABLE to move.
1. I am grateful for this amazing springtime sun. Spring is my favourite time in Europe. I don't like the far too hot weather of summertime. Spring suits me just fine.
2. I am grateful that I decided to venture to Antwerp many years ago and incidentally meet a fellow blogger for a coffee (P-) Antwerp is a small city the size of Vancouver, when I was a teenager. I used to say that if you didn't meet someone you know along Granville Street or downtown Vancouver on a sunny Friday afternoon, then you were a recluse. I tended to go to the same dance clubs that played foreign music all the time, so if it wasn't someone from Uni or highschool, it was the small and distinct nightlife crowd. Whenever we are in city center, P- meets friends along the way. I like that small but lively town centre feeling. In New York and even in London Limehouse, that small town feeling gets recreated by neighbourhoods and meeting at the "local" hangout. People in Antwerp are very friendly. While I sit here composing my gratitude post, 3 couples have come and gone, sharing this table. Though I can understand a fair bit of dutch by context and reference to other languages, I don't speak it. Still, someone has spoken to me at some point in our sitting together from each couple that has shared this table. Canadians are also friendly. I know that the Flemish have a reputation for being exclusionary and yes, I do feel that, too...but they are friendly to tourists in Antwerp (people often mistake P- for Canadian because he speaks English so well).
3. I am grateful for P-. I walked through Antwerp yesterday to find little spots we visited on our first meeting here, many years ago. Yesterday I came upon Mata Mata Pili Pili, the Tanzanian restaurant where we first had a meal together. It reminded me of the many things we had in common on that first day. I had forgotten these things in the process of coming to know him well. I had forgotten that we had both studied science at Uni (i switched from physics to monetary theory, international trade and finance), we both had recently been to Tanzania (hence the choice of restaurant) and we were both environmentalists. The thing I remember most was that he had the same slightly dark sense of humour as I and never batted an eye but volleyed with wit as well as he received. Humour is one of our greatest gifts.
Joy - It was a joy to see P- hand in his taxes and have that monkey off his back. I hate doing my taxes as much as the next person but it must be worse for people who aren't working in finance.
Oneness - I struggled with this today, for various reasons, but when I watched the beautiful sunset, I felt a oneness with the community of photographers on instagram who would eventually see my photos.
Service - More cooking....one more stew for the freezer before I leave tomorrow.