Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stage One: En Brussels

At first it seems that we're destined to pace in the waiting area and next on the runway. There's the terrorist (a solo man on two cell phones, talking into neither), Vogue (a man reading out loud to himself from the magazine), the inexplicable delays. Soft rain on the windows glowing orange. I race through Lena's Glamour before take-off.

Next the turbulence. One hour of sleep. The grim reaper sitting across the aisle.

Then day breaks.

 By 10 a.m. (4 a.m. back home), we're driving through Brussels with Lena's uncle. Originally we thought a nap was in order. But her aunt and uncle have other plans.

At 8:30 EST, I could be driving to work. Instead I'm walking through Europe's oldest mall, her aunt leading us to Neu Haus for chocolate. The day drizzles but the architecure is still stunning, the streets clean, the air sweet with waffles. They're everywhere.

I am the only person in Europe without a winter jacket. The wind is sharp but I hold up my camera anyway. We see NATO, the European Union Commission, the International Press Center, palaces and regal buildings whose purpose I can't recall, the city center. I'm wide awake.

Every city has its twist on the Belgian waffle. The Brussels kind is egg white and lightly sweet. Lena whispers that I need to try the Liege waffle, the full-fat kind. I do the next day. It's delicious.

Back at the house we pass out for two and a half hours. Dinner is takeout Vietnamese. We watch Keanu Reeves act in Dutch subtitles. The cat curls on my legs. Do we have to leave?

The next morning we visit the military museum and stand on top of the grand archway.

We drive to Waterloo to see where Napoleon met his defeat. The sky darkens and it's time to be dropped off at Midi, catching the last train out of the city before the strike. Rotterdam is darker. We don't know what awaits us there, and we're not sure we want to find out anymore. It's easier here.

No comments: