Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wakka Wakka

A facebook friend- you know, the true and only type of friend, they're the bestest- posted an inspirational quote today. It appeared in my news feed and went a little something like this: 

"people with money travel Europe, people with HEART travel Africa." (heart heart sunglasses thumbs up #yeahbuddy #hundredpahcentbaby #pictureofmeholdingafricanbabylookingsad/newprofilepic emoticon party!!!)

I think it should be slightly rewritten to get the full effect, something to really emphasize the soullessness of European meandering and the wholly perfect and spiritual nature of Europe's southern neighbor: "...PeOpLe WiTh HeArT travel to AFRICA!!" Deep pockets, ya'll, that's how we expats make it move and shake here. Oui, mon biche, c'est beau la bourgeoisiePass that bottle of Chrys and let's hop on this yacht. 

Not quite by pure transitive property in its mathematical sense, but some totally scientifically proven (we double checked the proofs) derivation of the transitive property brings us to the following:

EQ. 1: TravelEurope = Euros x 10000^10000, then LivingEurope = Euros x 10000000^100000/heartless soul 

Or let's simplify this equation and find some real numbers: Europe is fucking beautiful. Africa is fucking beautiful. But they are different places and people can do different things there, and people have different agendas that send them stumbling down whichever travel/expat lane they happen upon.

For instance, my parents can visit their middle daughter in Europe. My home- whatever that means- is here now, and visiting me certainly has less to do about $$$ then is has to do with finally understanding what I mean by stamcafe, football girls, "Leuven", 9 y voisin, Bozar, etc. It took them four years to mull the pros and cons of visiting (-1 year and +1000000 brownie points for mom, who dropped them big bills to come visit last year). In fact, I think it took them four years to figure out that this was not an extended study abroad, but that I was actually living here. 

There's the typical gamut of parental reactions to moving abroad- to Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Argentina or otherwise:

"Yes, (insertchild'snamehere)! moving abroad is a brilliant idea! follow your dreams and see the world!" - the proud parents, doting on any and all decisions
"what, you can't find a job here?" - the sons/daughters of the greatest generation and the greatest proponents of stability at all ages
"don't they speak a foreign language there?" - the subtly uncertainty parents
"what day do you arrive? good, we'll be there the week after" - the 'we wish we'd have done the same when we were your age' parents or the recently retired and not yet grandparents parents
"you mean to tell me there is another city in this world that can even compete with Chicago?!?!" - my Dad

Those actual words- without hesitation or second thought- were the first to cross Denco's lips when I slyly used a National Geographic article to relay my plans on Thanksgiving morning 5 years ago.  That was swiftly followed with an "Are you out of your goddamned mind?"

Slight aside: I still don't have an answer to that one...

So when both parents stepped into the arrivals hall (on time flight!) in October, they were gunning to drink in the flavor of my new stomping grounds, not to frivolously drop cash on whatever whimsies tickled their fancy. Ok, maybe we spent more money on beers together, but let's tally that one in the "cultural" column. It's appropriate here. 

And travel we did. I traveled inside my own adopted country. It was sweet- like a glorified staycation where I could actually convince others to join me on my patent (pending) 'death marches'. Where we bounced from cafe to museum to architecturally interesting area to restaurant to historically significant area to breathtaking countryside. And it was like the heavens agreed, saying, here is warm, sunny weather for this non-superfluous experience! Enjoy this important country! Enjoy this important time with your family! Brussels-Leuven-Brugge-Genk-Bouillon-Epernay-Reims! Right on!

Afterall, the price tag -both environmentally and financially- on that trip to Dakar is still a few hundred euros more expensive than that Transatlantic jump from ORD to BRU

 super impressed by Brussels' famous Mannekin Pis

the non-JCVD mussels from Brussels

real estate shopping with all them racks on racks!!