What country is run by three governments, goes a year without a government at all, yet still gets things done? Belgium! It has waffle infrastructure, which is resilient and will take you far. Tyrants and rulers have come and gone. Belgium was one of the Dutch states; it became part of the Spanish territory when the Habsburgs married into the Spanish royal family; people tore one another apart during the religious wars. Louis XIV coveted the land; Napoleon dismantled it; Hitler ran it over. Its king looted its coffers to finance his violent pillage of the Congo. The place abides. People eat waffles in the rain.
Just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean it’s not hailing. I learn to get on with my life in fits and starts, between rain showers. The days are getting longer and colder. The daffodils are out. The waffle trucks waft the caramelized dough around the schools and through the parks. But “pancakes with abs”, to quote a food stand, are not for us. We’re all on a “regime”: Alrik, me, and Tibby the Labrador, who’s the only one getting slimmer. The vet wants her to lose more weight. Tibby wants a second opinion.
Friend down, Place Brugmann: she returned to the US, frustrated by the immigration process and the difficulty of figuring everything out. I’m sad to see her go; sad that things got the best of her. I’m determined to hang in here; and grateful for all the support I get from Alrik, family, friends new and old. With patience and basic French-language skills, it’s a gentle place. The essentials are affordable: chocolate, waffles, beer, health insurance, rent, leeks (tarted), potatoes (French-fried), and intermittent drizzle. We’re doing without the rest. I don’t even remember what I’m missing. Coronavirus, for one.
Someone floated the idea that I and my sisters should retreat to my mother’s house in rural Quebec until the virus passes us by. I’ll tell you what has 100% fatality rate: me, my mother, and my two sisters in one place. Thanks, but I’ll stay in Brussels and keep on keeping on with the same sinus infection I’ve had since November.
Until I find my flow into the dance scene, I’m elaborating a communications plan for the lacemaking workshop, behind its back. If the current generation of lacemakers is attached to the status quo, I want to make sure that the next generations benefit from what these ladies have developed over decades. The syllabus is a masterpiece of technical writing and drawing, and it’s analog. The studio’s location is a treasure passed on to us from history. Put it all together, and what you’ve got is immaterial cultural heritage. This privilege is financially accessible, yet that’s not enough. Not everyone wants to make lace, but some people need that mental space and the waiting list is long. What overlooked cultural heritage is tucked away in your home? I bet you’d find a couple in the family recipe book.