11 January 2008

Warm welcome

I realize I have been avoiding writing in my blog, partly because to do so would somehow be to admit that I am no longer living the internet-free, sleeping-late, holiday-meals life of the previous three weeks. Instead, I am back in Brussels, where the golden Christmas sun of Barcelona is but a chimerical dream.

We've been here for a week, but the Mister was home sick for a few days (like everybody else in the world, it seems) and so the normal schedule wasn't quite normal yet. I have been baking up a storm, but avoiding washing dishes in protest against having had to leave my dishwasher in Barcelona behind. The chocolate-encrusted bowls sitting in the sink mock me.

Also mocking me: the unlit Christmas tree and the dust bunnies under the dining room table. Coming back to a not-quite-sparkling-clean house is never fun, and in this case, when combined with sleety rain and buffeting winds...

An incident occurred on Monday night that is utterly representative of the way I feel about returning to Brussels. As I rounded the corner to our street, carrying a couple of bags of groceries, I heard a terrible coughing sound. The crazy old man who always totters up and down our street smoking a cigar was in the process of hocking up a lung.

As if in slow motion, I realized he was about to spit, and his position, leaning against the wall of the corner building, meant that I was directly in his line of fire. I dodged, but I wasn't quick enough, and a large clod of spittle and mucus OH HOW GROSS I AM GROSSED OUT EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT AGAIN landed on my jacket sleeve and glove. I sort of screamed and looked at him, but what does one say to someone who has just SPIT ON YOU?

Plus as I mentioned he might be crazy, and I don't speak the kind of French that allows me to quickly formulate a response to invasion of personal space and cleanliness by spit. So I rushed on, my arm awkwardly outstretched in front of me, all the way up to our apartment where I ran to the sink and washed it off as best I could, holding back a gagging reflex. I still have yet to use the gloves again.

With that as an emblematic welcome back to our neighborhood, you can see why I just want to run back to Barcelona. Actually, running there is a good idea because I might work off a few of the million Christmas calories I ingested over the break.

I suppose I can pretend I'm still there by downloading the pictures we took. One of the presents that came out of the sturdy Christmas box from Vermont was a FANTASTIC camera, so pictures will indeed be forthcoming, I promise.

Meanwhile, it's still January, and all I can think about are the weeks and weeks of cold and gray that we still have ahead of us. They should make Christmas later in the year. Are you listening, "they"?


Lilacspecs said...

CB and I are taking the train to Brussels tomorrow for a little day trip. What's the name of the street with the spitting guy so I can stay as far away as possible??

Robin said...

Hey Korie, don't worry: we live in St. Gilles, which is not at all touristy and so unlikely to be a place you visit. Hopefully no encounters with spitting people.

But we should get together for a coffee, either this visit or some other time!! How can we reach each other without having to reveal phone or e-mail on public blogs???