I found a longer running route in the forest near my house, (over 10k) which is nice, except that when it rains the forest becomes a mud pit for a few days. This is super important overall though, because running is something along with yoga that really helps to keep me feeling balanced, even if I'm in a situation that isn't really.
The most noteworthy thing that happened last week I suppose is that I totally freaked out after a night out with a bunch of people. Some were friends of Boyfriend, and others neither of us knew at all, friends of friends. I can't say it was a bad night, but there was something just perhaps a little 'too much' about a night spent feeling at times like I was being sloshed about in a washing machine full of somewhat-region-specific French, and a lot of vulgar conversation at that. I knew that this experience woudn't really be comfortable, and I expected the first bit to be rough but when we came home that night, I was feeling very...not home at all. Having just spent the night in a very warm room where I was the *only* one not smoking, I just wanted to be able to breathe. *Visualize for a moment: a fish out of water.* When I opened the door to the garage to let some cool air hit me, something else hit me too. *Visualize for a moment: a plant uprooted.* That's pretty much the image I saw in my head, and it hurt, and I just started to cry. I don't cry often. Particularly not like this. Boyfriend was definitely a bit alarmed.
The next morning after waking while we talked about it I told him that sometimes people just need to let the things that build up out, and sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry to do that. I could see he understood what was going on, (some of what we talked about probably sounded a lot like what he faced last year when he was being sloshed about in Canadian culture and the English language, while I watched and worried.) *Visualize for a moment: a lifeguard watching a weak swimmer struggling to the side of the pool.* In fact, we talked about how it's very much like this, (the experience of being the native watching the non-native try to survive) ...because you want to save the person when you see them struggling, but you know they won't learn to really 'swim' if you do that. So you just watch...carefully, try to be supportive, and fret.
I definitely felt a little better post-freakout, but it doesn't mean the source of this stress has gone, (culture shock doesn't just go away like that,) and so every day it's just about doing a little more, as much as I can, and hoping that these little steps help me to 'root in' a bit. These experiments in surviving in other places are something that tell us much more about ourselves and our abilities to be tenacious and adaptable than they do about the place we're trying in I think. For me this experience won't be a success really unless I can come out of it knowing that Belgium is a place I could live. I don't want a country to kick my ass because really I think I'm a stronger person than that. So I'm alright if I cry here and there along the way so long as I keep going. Just like running, sometimes it hurts and you just want to stop, but it's only when you make it to the end that you see what you are made of.
Today I'm made of procrastination.
I have not been working at what I should today, and instead have found distraction in just about everything else. I realize this is a little bit of fear, (and a little bit of practicality because hey, I did take my clothes out of the dryer and hang them up.) It's silly though I know, and after lunch while I'm digesting, I'll be translating some Canadian work-stuff so that these documents are ready by the time I finally (if ever) am officially registered 'in the system' with an address and identity card.
When I am done with this task, I should be done digesting and I'll be out the door for a run as reward/decompression. After grinding my teeth so hard last night in my sleep that my jaw has hurt all morning, I know I need it.