A future in Brussels

JeSuisBelgeToday has been a real wreck. A super wreck. I woke up at 3:45 am, New Orleans time, with a start. A piercing hum in my dream, followed by a flash of light. My first thought? What the hell was that? Something is really wrong in the universe. I couldn’t have guessed what had actually happened. I lay there for a moment, willing myself not to check my phone. I had only been “asleep” for a whole whopping two hours, so picking up my phone was a risk I was really not willing to take. But I did it.

And then I was really awake.

I immediately started calling people. Texting. Facebooking. Instagramming. Tweeting. Emailing. Viber. Skype. You name it – I used it today. I wanted to confirm that the ones I love and care for were safe. I breathed sighs of relief and I held my breath. It’s been a really screwed up day.

Brussels has been my home away from home for the last two-and-a-half-ish years. It’s my other soul-place, my comfort zone, my place. My place. Where I can go and teach and focus on writing and my consulting and even spend more time on my US clients than I can when I am in New Orleans. A place where I can visit with friends, walk anywhere I like, eat whatever I want, drink a new beer every day. Brussels is a place of acceptance. A place where I go, personally, to be me. A place where I’ve grown and the place where I decided that a forever partnership was not only a possibility, but a necessity in my life. Brussels is my home.

Today’s bombings come at a terrible time. As though there were ever a “good” time … I have been waiting to make a decision on when to renew my visa, to renew my residence card, to continue the life built there. I have second thoughts now. Well, actually, maybe they are fourth and fifth thoughts. I was already torn. First Paris. Then Brussels. Now Brussels again. This just makes it harder.

You know what they say about terrorism … the mere fear of terrorism is just as effective as the terrorist act(s) itself. That keeping people in their homes, schools, workplaces, unable to leave, prisoners – that this is terrorism in and of itself. And I have a host of people that were immediately accounted for, and others who are not yet on the “safety” list.

Have the terrorists ruined my Brussels? No. Have the terrorists killed themselves in the name of making a point? Perhaps. Yes. Will my Brussels stop functioning because the terrorists have committed these acts? No. Definitely not.

I had a real #TastyTuesday HumidFoodie post to give you today. Brand new news … about something good, nay, amazing, about to happen in Brussels. But it seems inappropriate to post it today. So instead, I give you this – that the people of Belgium, the Americans and Europeans and the decent human beings of the world, the ones who are advocates for human rights and who just want to live in peace …. those people are what are good in Brussels now. We are expats. We are natives. We are locals. We are law enforcement. We are security teams. There might be bombs. There might be fear. But there is no giving up. Je suis Bruxelles. Je suis Belge.

For up-to-date info on what’s going on in Brussels, follow my friend Ryan Heath and his team at Politico here.

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