Sometimes you break your heart in a right way.
I did not break my heart. But I did sell my summer. Instead of going on vacations, enjoying sun, sand and sangria I spent some of the time in school, some time at home in front of the computer and even more time stressing out.
It wasn‘t easy, but I managed. And then on the 4th of August, when I got to the office of my professor what I heard was `so, you are done`. And then it hit me. I am actually really done. I finished my thesis, I wrote the whole thing by myself, I corrected it numerous times, I double-checked grammar again and again and now I am really done.
Of course there is still a lot to do. First, I need to wait and see if everything is definitely okay with my school. Because you know, with my luck and with my experience with my school, you never know. Then there is always a possibility of lightning to strike again. We‘ll see. Aside from that I have to go through it again. And again. And again. I have to prepare a presentation of some sort, prepare a speech of 10-15 minutes and get myself physically, emotionally and however else possible ready for the defence. Which is scary.
It will be alright, right? I think I will need you to hold my hand this time. Please don‘t get scared of the rain. It might be still possible to jump. Hold my hand.
It‘s a pending period at the moment. Nobody is telling me anything, so I am just sending emails hoping to get a positive answer. Nobody wants the bad news. I am not an exception.
This brings me back to the times of 7 years ago. Wow, was it really 7 years? Damn, it, it really was. But I am stronger now. And smarter. And better prepared. Right? This time it was all me.
I stacked the deck. The history is not going to repeat itself.
What was thought to be the worst timing ever, turned out to be not so bad. And after my sister insisted for so long and so much, we booked the trip for both of us and for our mom to Amsterdam and Brussels. Including Bruges in between. And me wandering to Maastricht for a few days after. It wasn‘t my first choice. How could it been? But anyways, in the end it is what it is. Let’s just start from the very beginning.
So I packed my bag and jumped to a flight to Amsterdam. The 16:35 with norwegian.no to Amsterdam. As before. A few times. Bad habits die hard. As the times before, Mr. Patrick came to pick me up from the airport. Of course he cheated a little as I expecting him to come straight from work in a suit [!!] and he came in shorts and flip-flops. Such a disappointment. We took a train, then a metro. Or was it a tram? Sometimes I cannot tell the difference. We got to one of the many canals of Amsterdam and had a beer. Okay, I am not going to lie, we had a few. Who’s counting when you are enjoying an almost raining windy weather with a good company and an even better conversation? We knew that we only have a very limited time, however after I checked, internet stated that my mom’s and my sister’s flight will be delayed for 185 minutes. Yes, this is how it said: 185 minutes. I tried to reach them, got no response, so just hoped everything is okay. After we finished our beers, we got back to the casa of Mr. Patrick, which he nicely gave to me and my family for the weekend and made me dinner [who can say no to that?]. In the end, he left his own home leaving me there to wait for my mom and my sister. They showed up! About 5-6 hours later than expected. Some flight they had. Apparently they flew around Tallinn with flat tyre [don’t ask, I don’t know the details], had to land, then wait for the plane to be fixed, then get on a plane again.. It was quite a story they gave me there at 3 o’clock in the morning, even though we had museum tickets for the next morning.
So, after about 3, maybe 3.5 hours of sleep we went to explore Amsterdam. We started with Van Gogh museum, followed by.. basically the rest of the city. I won’t bother you with the details. We walked through the old town, checked a few churches, old houses, flower market and other good stuff of the city. We even walked through the red light district and the coffee-shops street. You know the one I am talking about, along the canal, where all you see are high tourists, souvenirs and that is practically it.
The lack of sleep was killing all of us. So after a still quite long walk around the old city, we got back home to the casa and had a nap. Some of us took a long nap, some short nappy, but at least everyone rested. In the evening all I managed was to drag my mom and my sister out for a little walk along the big canal close to home and that was it. Well, they were tired, I could have given that to them.
The next day had to start even earlier, since we had tickets to Anna Frank House museum. Now, a little hint here – if you are travelling to a popular European destination in a touristy season [a.k.a. summer] – buy all the museum tickets that are possible online. If not – huge endless lines are going to be what you will do most in the city. Same goes for the train tickets. Unless you want to stand there in the station, waiting for your number to show.
Anyways, Anna Frank House. I thought my mom knows the story and read the book. Apparently she didn’t. But that didn’t stop her from liking the museum. After that we took a walk in a slightly different side of Amsterdam than the day before, we got to the train station where I waited to buy the tickets for the next day and once I was done, I met up with my mom and my sister again for Nemo museum. It wasn’t as great as I remembered. I think mostly because most of those things take time to be translated to my mom and also because it is full of people. Especially kids. No, I still am not a fan of kids. Especially the spoiled brats, who don’t wait for their turn and try to push in. Or run and scream and step on your feet. No, still not a fan.
After Nemo, we took another walk in the city. We ended up in the windmill bar with different beers. Finally, in my trip, I had a chance to enjoy a beer. My sister did not like any of the beers, of course, my mom was okay with one and me, well, I like beer, I was okay with just being there. Having a beer. Who cares what kind? After beers we walked through the market, my sister and my mom were buying food and checking other things, then a little park, through the bridge over the canal and once again we found ourselves in the casa. For the last time. For the last night. The Amsterdam adventure part was almost over.
That night we were supposed to go for another walk. Just to see the city. However my sister and my mom decided they are too tired, Mr. Patrick was either still away or not in a mood to meet up with me and I couldn’t help myself but feel lonely. I am in the city that I really like and enjoy. Yet again, I got no one to even go for a walk and enjoy the city for another last night. Who knows when I get a chance to walk those streets again? Probably not any time soon.
Oh well, what the hell.
The next morning, early waking up, trying to do a little cleaning so the casa looks just like we left it and taking a train to Bruges.
“There's a Christmas tree somewhere in London with a bunch of presents underneath it that'll never be opened. And I thought, if I survive all of this, I'd go to that house, apologize to the mother there, and accept whatever punishment she chose for me. Prison... death... didn't matter. Because at least in prison and at least in death, you know, I wouldn't be in fuckin' Bruges. But then, like a flash, it came to me. And I realized, fuck man, maybe that's what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in fuckin' Bruges. And I really really hoped I wouldn't die. I really really hoped I wouldn't die”
In Bruges [check imdb for it]. This was the main reason why I wanted to go and visit Bruges. Climb up the tower. See for myself, what’s so un-special about Bruges. I wasn’t disappointed. My sister, to my surprise, was even impressed. All the good things finally come to those who wait.
“Ray: A great day this has turned out to be. I'm suicidal, me mate tries to kill me, me gun gets nicked and we're still in fookin' Bruges!”
Anyways. It is a great little old city. Very beautiful to walk around. Very touristy too, sadly. Although if you take a side street just 2 minutes away from the main square you can find these empty calm nice areas. In one of them we took a seat in little café and had my first Belgium beer in this trip. Since I found Rodenbach in the meniu, I took it. It is still definitely not the one I was looking for, though. I am starting to think I will never find it. Oh well.
If you ever doubted – don’t anymore. Bruges is definitely worth seeing. Just like the movie `In Bruges`. And no, I am not getting any money for advertising it. Just like I don’t get any money for advertising Decubal creams. It’s just worth mentioning. Sometimes the best marketing is good quality. All it takes. Even if Ray did not like Bruges, doesn’t mean you won’t too. It really is great. Here, take a look:
And after Bruges we took a train and found ourselves in Brussels. It meant only 1.5 days were left of the trip. Well, to my mom and my sister anyways. We got to the hostel and were pleasantly surprised. Well you know me, I can sleep on the floor and not complain. But my sister is a different person. So if she was happy, it was an achievement. I booked it through booking.com so I found some kind of special offer there, but still worth checking it out: Meininger hotel.
The first night we did nothing, we got in pretty late. We just went out, found a pizzeria, had some food and went to sleep. The next morning we got up and had a plan to see the whole city. It went better than I expected. To begin with, it was very peaceful and refreshing to walk the morning. No people, no rush, no noises, just a city, waking up. We walked the churches, pissing kids [both a girl and a boy], royal palace, parks, triumph arcs and so so on. In the late afternoon we got back to the hostel for a little break. Then in the early evening me and my mom went to that 5th or 4th [depending on where you read about it] biggest church in the world and later on we met up with my sister for the last supper [dramatic music] and a little walk in a lit city.
On the last day of the trip we went back to the royal palace, since in summer time you can go in and see how kings and queens actually live, went down to Notre Dame, Justice palace, found a shop where my mom and my sister could buy chocolates, then in the end we got to the station, found the shuttle bus for the airport and it was the end. I waved and they left.
Unfortunately I did not have much time there, so I just went to get a ticket for myself to Maastricht where I went to see a friend who knows me since we were in diapers. Who has seen me in my best and in my worst and still wants to hang out. I got there in no time. Inga came to pick me up from the station, took me home, then to the shop, then made me dinner, took me for a walk and we had a nice relaxing evening with a few beers at home.
The next day she had to go to work and I went out to do my own exploring. I walked the same paths as yesterday, found some new ones, climbed up the tower they have in the centre, walked a little more, even did some window shopping. I had a very touristy day. In the end of my walk, I was told to go back home, because dinner is almost ready. Talk about full service.
After dinner we went for one place, which was closed, so we ended up in another bar? I wanna say bar, because we only had beers there, but it could have been a cafe. Anyways, we had a quality time there. Good beers, nice service and endless conversations that we both knew, if we kept going, morning would be knocking on the windows in no time.
On the last day I went out to do my little shopping [beer and chocolate, no secrets there], we had a few more conversations, I was fed and taken to a train station. The trip was officially almost over.
In the train close to me two kids were sitting. I was sure they are no more than 15, but they probably must have been at least 16, since they had passports. Anyways, just as we crossed The Netherlands-Belgium border, some people, I would assume police volunteers came in and started to check everybody‘s passports and tickets. Now I am not sure if they had a very good eye, or those kids decided to give up voluntarily, but they started taking weed out of their pockets. So they got body checked, their passports were taken and I would assume they were on the way to get a fine. Or at least a warning. I would not know, since they spoke French and I had to get off right after they got caught.
Still. Fun, huh? You go just a few kilometres and there you can get caught.
After some time I finally got to the airport, checked in, everything was according to the plan and the only thing I was worrying about that moment was my beer. Well, my beer and my flowers, left at home. After one not so easy bike ride back home I checked my flowers and they were fine. Beer survived the trip too. All 15 of them. They are safely waiting for a special occasion to be enjoyed now. Next to the chocolates. That are also waiting to be consumed.
And that is it. I am trying to get back on the tracks, find my peace with the world, get into the routine [work next week will definitely help with that] and wait for the defence day. Somehow feels more like a judgement day. I hope I’ll survive.
I am now in a weird situation. Not in here, in my head. That real-imaginary world of mine. I don’t seem to be able to slap out of it.
Just like that time, I find myself in the casino at the end of the world. At the poker table. The deck has been stacked. Except this time I am not the only one confused at the table. You are so confused yourself. Even more than me. And I never thought it would ever come to that.
I know I am not going to make a bet, but it sure feels good knowing that you do not know that. Even better knowing that you wish I did.
I am not sure how that makes me feel. And at a different casino or different end of the world I might be making that bet. Not this time, though.
I sacrificed enough.
I just thought about it again. Yes, enough. More than I should have.
You looked into my eyes and told me that I made a right choice while you made a mistake. `I had no choice` - I am telling you and you look at me in disbelief. You made a choice and I had to accept it. I tried to reject it, but you wouldn't take it. You left me with no choice. Eventually I accepted it.
Are you sure you want to change your mind?
Now the ball is in my court. Damn, that feels good. Even if lonely.
I will slap out of it. After all, it’s not every day you meet the monsters of your own life. And grab a coffee with them. With a cookie.