Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moving madness, part II

For the second time in less than three weeks I’m on the hunt for boxes – now to empty my apartment in Brussels. If I thought the Barbizon-move was the « Mont Blanc » to climb, this one is going to be no less than Mount Everest.
I’ve got enough books to fill an entire small town-library, enough candles to lit a cathedral, and enough clothes to make the Salvation Army happy for at least five years. And just loads of « stuff » - there’s no other way to describe it. A coke can from our trip to Cuba three years ago. A twig with eucalyptus leaves from the Portuguese mountains. An empty wine bottle from that romantic dinner in Florence five years ago. A flyer from the ballet we went to for our one year-anniversary. The keycard from our very designy hotel in Copenhagen. And so one. (By now, you’re starting to understand why I get along so well with Phoebe, the hamster). Yes, I’m one of those people who keeps things, just because of the memory that’s attached to it. Restaurant tickets, some ten plastic Haagen-Dazs ice cream spoons, entrance tickets, Starbucks’ coffee cups with my name on it, etc : they fill up valuable storage space, with no other purpose but to do just that.
And now, decision-time has come : in or out. Part of me goes all sentimental and says : hey, I already have to leave my apartment – surely I’m allowed to keep all my things. Another part goes practical : time to clean up, and throw out all the clutter. The less there is to move, the better. This results in situations like the following : actually find the courage to throw away something. Five minutes later : run down the stairs, look left and right to see if there’s no one in the street, tear open my own garbage bag, dig into it, and retrieve the one item, that was, of course, on the bottom by now. And drag it back up to my apartment.
*Sigh*, four days left to get my entire life packed into boxes – wish me luck !

Friday, July 18, 2008

The following takes place between 12.20 AM and 2.30 PM

(imagine the bleeping soundtrack of « 24 » while reading)

12.20 AM
"P, stop showering and get dressed ! Asap !! There’s this really cool apartment I saw online, and the owner is still there for some 30 minutes. If we leave NOW, we can get there in time and visit it!!"
12.30 AM
P (still half wet) and N jump in the car and speed through town.
P and N have their first look at the place, and have what the French call « un coup de cœur »
1.00 PM
P and N go for a quick lunch, while doing nothing but maths to see if they can afford the parking place that can be rented with the apartment
2.00 PM
Visit of another apartment. Not worth mentioning after what we saw an hour earlier
2.30 PM
P and N decide and make the call : we take the apartment … and the parking place !

22.30 PM
Sitting on my couch, writing this, and still not able to believe it :-)

Monday, July 14, 2008

In the midst of moving-madness

Here I am, on the French National Holiday, sitting between some 20 boxes, blogging for the last time in Barbizon !
It’s unbelievable what one accumulates in only 10 months : books, plants, DVD’s, piles of food, some 20 Carrefour shopping bags (which come in useful right now !), uncountable brochures (from swimming pool opening hours to the Student guide for Paris), etc, etc. The fact that each time I went to Belgium, I brought some more stuff over to Barbizon, is not really helping us right now. Until this morning, I was confident that everything would easily fit into our two cars. Now, it seems that the next tenants will be spoiled with a functioning TV and oven/microwave. (I try to ban the thought that I’ll have to go through this again in a few weeks time, when we’ll have found an apartment, and I’ll have to empty mine).
All in all, I can’t really say that I hate packing. The practical hands-on stuff is helping me cope with having to say goodbye to the place. So that’s why I’ve been non-stop busy since the military parade was marching by on the Champs Elysées. It’s only when P and I stop for five minutes, and look at each other, that emotions just well up.
I guess this has been a special place for us. We lived together here for the first time, we had our worst fights here, our closest moments, and shared many an evening in the company of dear friends. It was our own little Bubble :-) , and I’ll really miss it.


On our last night out in Paris city, we decided we had to try at least once the public transport-bike system, i.e. “Vélib”. I was lucky and found a functioning bike immediately. P was less fortunate. A little overview of our bike-adventure
- First station, 2 bikes left. One for me (OK), the other one for P : oops, no tire at the back
- On to the next station : one bike left, but ah, alas : no chain
- On to the next station : ah, yes, a bike. We take it. Oops, flat tire. We drive to the next station
- The next station : card doesn’t work at this one. F***
- On to the next station : yess, one bike left! We take it, hmmm…tire at the back is as good as flat, but what the hell, we’ve almost reached our destination.
- Oops…no space left to park our bikes…But thank God, two guys just pass by and take two bikes out, so we’re saved.
And than I didn’t mention that at bike station nr1 we were surrounded by a youth gang, who were trying to take out the bikes we’d just paid for….
So, Vélib’ anyone? Yeah, well, *maybe* next time!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An itchy Sunday

P and his mom spent a nice day in Paris, I spent a not so nice day at home.
This morning, I started out quite actively with cleaning, ironing and washing, but soon things turned nasty. Our romantic little Barbizonian terrace seems to be infested with some kind of plant louse. The little black buggers are all over the place, and decided to discover the freshly washed clothes as well. So I put the clothes once again into the washing machine. And while doing so, the door of the closet hiding the machine broke off. After that, I discovered that the lice were not only on the entire terrace and on the laundry, but in the mean time, also on…yes, me ! I guess it’s about time to move out of this place….
The afternoon left nothing else to do but spend way too many hours on my laptop : Facebook (trying to find out where everyone is and what they’re up to), looking endlessly at all the pictures taken this year, once again checking all the INSEAD blogs, and then back to Facebook. (enjoying the sun on the terrace was still not an option because of, yes, you’ve guessed it : plant lice)
The evening is carrying on in much the same way…Although I’ve decided to become a bit more productive and write some . Needless to say, after a Murphy-morning, and a lonely afternoon, I feel a bit itchy (lice again ? ;-) …especially as P is still somewhere between Paris and Barbizon, and I’m dying to have him a bit to myself again.
Post-graduation hasn’t been a blast up until now. I miss everyone, I miss some really needed and long awaited quality time with P , and there were/are just too many goodbyes.
Ok, I’ll stop nagging now. But somehow it seemed a better idea to do it here on my blog, than in an hour or so , when P gets finally home. Still, if he doesn't nicely listen to all my complaints of the day, I'll just put him on the terrace for a while :-)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Graduation July '08

(This is a long one, you’re warned)

While writing this, I’m still trying to recover from, in no particular order : almost three hours in a hot tent, 4 (or 5 ?) glasses of bubbles, 5 hours of non-stop dancing, half a bottle of rosé wine, 2 cranberry-vodka’s, barely 3 hours of sleep, and uncountable goodbye-hugs and tears. That’s right, the July ’08 Graduation, and with that the whole INSEAD year, is over. Done.

First of all, I feel immensely proud of P. Of course because he got an MBA (and some really fine results with that), but most of all because I know he has become a wonderful friend to a lot of people, because he finally learned to party the night away, and because he kept insisting that this was (and had to be) a great year for both of us. Even at times when I hated it.

I feel grateful for the experience I had the past few months. A year ago, I was someone who never had a conversation with let’s say an Indian, a Japanese, a Rumanian, a Canadian, etc. I had never lived abroad. I had never hosted dinner parties for more than 4 people. I never partied until dawn (let alone on weeknights !), never dived into a pool around midnight, never had so many social activities I actually had to plan a night at home. This list could go on and on, but all I’m saying is : damn, I’m gonna miss the parties :-) !!

Last but not least : I feel so much love and friendship, that my heart is just too small to contain it all. The intensity and depth of the friendships built in just a few months, are very hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t gone through the whole experience. Day after day, we’ve shared laughter ,tears, irritation (Grrrr, those men !!), gossip :-) , boredom, dreams, hopes, and fears. (Setting up a refugee camp for « Partners without a destination » in the INSEAD garden is still an option girls !)
That being a partner was not always an easy ride, can be shown by some quotes :
- I want to be normal : I want to have furniture.
- The last few months, I was trained as a private investigator…I sat and watched people all day in an international business school.
- My clothes are in four different places, and you know what ? I don’t even care !
- Don’t cry – Eat !
Or what about a contest on whose husband/boyfriend arrives first in the bar after classes being the most exciting thing in your whole day ? (on top of everything, a contest I mostly lost !). Looking back on it however, I think we never would have become such friends if we hadn’t shared all those idle hours….
Next to the partners, there are also the friends I got to know through P, and the ones I got to know through writing this blog. On that last note : in the beginning it felt strange to realize that people knew who I was and what I felt without ever having really talked to them. In the end, this blog has become the thread that keeps me and a lot of people together. People I don’t really know all that well, or don’t know at all, but who are friends just because they read, they care, they show concern and support.
So after saying heartbreaking goodbyes to friends who are leaving to the four corners of the world last night, saying goodbye to this blog would be one goodbye too many.

Tears are still not far away today. Just thinking about some people makes me grab my sunglasses and a Kleenex. I wanted to tell some people so much yesterday. But I just couldn’t. So I’ll do it now. (sorry if this post is going on and on and on !)
- You’re the sweetest, warmest person I’ve ever met. A soulmate. Thanks for all the shared dinners, and for dragging us to Paris many a weekend for eating, shopping and 1 hour-museum tours.
- Your tears surprised me. I always thought you were such a though, strong girl. Take care. I just know you’ll do great in life – there’s a fire burning in your heart and in your eyes ; keep it that way !
- You’re both wonderful people, who’ve treated me with a lot of respect and showed true gratefulness. Honest and kind, warm and friendly, on the same wavelength on many a things (family, food, cars :-) , you’ve become real friends
- Never loose your uncontrollable, unstructured, crazy creative side. It’s what makes you you. It can be one of your greatest qualities if you let it. It sometimes takes a writer to understand one, and I think we did…
- I have to admit I first thought you were cold and distant. Never have I been more wrong. I’m still jealous of your perfect style and elegance. But more than that, I’m proud I got to know such an amazing personality.
- I feel that we didn’t really had a chance to say our goodbyes, each of us being absorbed by our own problems. But let’s not forget what we share : a true, honest friendship, with room for our own straightforward opinions, with understanding and concern. I admire you. I really do.
- Thanks for all the sexy moves we shared on the dance floor :-). I feel the year has been too short for us, and we haven’t had the chance to really know each other. But I saw enough to know you’re a great person.
- I don’t really say goodbye to you. ‘Cause I know with full certainty that you’ll always be there and that we’ll be friends for life.

Hugs and kisses to all of you, and to all the other readers. Thanks for sticking with me throughout it all !