By: S. Davis
I’m in Antwerp as I take some time to journal today. Honestly, I’d rather drink but it’s chilly this afternoon. The wind is cutting and I’m sure as the hours progress it won’t improve. I could get a drink but that would mean that I have to sit indoors and that’s the opposite of where I want to be at the moment. My trips have taken me to some splendid places and I know this memory of the Het Steen Fortress will be a nice one to have stored in the memory bank. This fortress is the oldest in the city of Antwerp – dating back to 1200 – and has also served as a prison, residence and now a museum.
My eyes gaze across the Scheldt River as I find a bench in direct sunlight. I’m winning the day, I’d say! I sit and it’s serene. The greenery across the river, couples to my left and right, a dog playfully fetches a water bottle thrown by its master. A boxer, with a gorgeous cappuccino coat; elated with joy, waiting patiently for the game to continue.
Warmth starts with my face as the suns rays glide from my hands to my nose. I’m feeling okay, I’m much better than okay as I contemplate.
A couple completely in love – at least from my perch – can’t decide if they want to lock hands or hug while walking. They compromise and do both. He stumbles over his left foot and she tugs his arm to help him balance. Teamwork right there; cute.
To my left, another couple warms in the sun as I am. When I passed them to find this open bench, he was staring across the river while she rested her head on his right shoulder with a look on her face of comfort, relaxation and peace. She felt safe. For a moment I wanted to snap a picture of them; just to keep that moment fresh. It would be odd though as the way I would have to frame it would make it obvious as to what I was doing. In turn they would probably think I was a freak – and I wouldn’t blame them for it. I’m not an asshole so I didn’t. Also, I couldn’t ask to take the photo as that moment would be interrupted. Pointless.
Those moments don’t seem to fit into my immediate future. I can’t explain why. There is someone I think that I like. Those reading this might say, “If you think you like her then you don’t.” Logical. Yet the humans that have any true idea of Sean know that nothing about me or my life seems simple, normal or by the book.
I’m the type of person to deliberately process emotions when it comes to romantic entanglements. I don’t leave a single stone unturned.
There’s some random street fair happening so this is a good time to get some alcohol in my system. The wind is still present but the large buildings are helping although some of these walkways are like wind tunnels. Outside seating? Yes! I take a seat and drop my backpack on the empty chair across from me. As I begin to write in my pad, a waiter comes over. Before I can speak I’m greeted in English. Should I be offended by that? Most of my interactions in Belgium, where the conversation was initiated by the stranger, I’ve been greeted in French – and I immediately express that I only speak English, unfortunately. Of course I wasn’t offended I just wanted to know why he chose English, so I asked. I wasn’t dressed differently from the locals, no bold colors or large logos on my clothing. “Just a guess, you know?” was the response. I ordered and got back to writing, briefly.
The architecture in Antwerp was worth the ride from Brussels. This has been a long day but it feels invigorating to explore. In the back of my mind the dread is seeping in as this trip is coming to its conclusion in the next few days. A group of women sit at the table adjacent to mine. I nod, they return in kind. I exchange glances with them all as I sip on my beer and pretend to write. The pained expression on my face seems to draw their attention. I’m acting. Randomly I laugh to myself recognizing how much of a jerk I am. Weird. Ha! I say hello, they respond as well. As I drift off into my mind they order and talk amongst themselves.
Should I eat? I could always stuff my face but I’m not inspired to feast at the moment. Life seems so calm when I’m abroad as I only have to worry about how I’ll spend the day. It’s not even worrisome. It’s an unplanned, winding block of time that I have to fill by doing whatever comes to mind. It’s liberating. I just sit…and watch strangers stroll along.
The women leave. They wave to me and I wish them a good day – or night I should say. Since I’m not pressed for time I order another beer. There’s nothing but an open canvas for the rest of the evening. This is peace.
A random thought I scribbled as I walked to Five Guys and the skies began to cry; I wanted a burger: It’s important to know who you are and to be wholeheartedly honest with yourself. I’m not accepting aging well. It’s holding up a mirror to vulnerabilities I’ve never had at any other time in my life.
Part 1: France
Part 2: New York City (JFK)
Part 3: Berlin
Part 4: Salzburg Airport
Part 5: La Parrilla Steak Restaurant
Part 6: Salzburg Airport (Departure)
Part 7: Hostel
Part 8: Berlin Wall
Part 9: Somewhere in Kensington
Part 10: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Part 11: Strausbourg
Part 12: Vienna
Part 13: On To Switzerland