Belgium, and C&C Music Factory.

Belgium, and C&C Music Factory.

When I was 11, I went to Europe with school on an exchange program trip to Belgium.
I remember things about that trip extremely vividly.
Things like these..

My host family dad was a neuroscientist, and the mother asked me if I’d like to ‘douche’ as soon as I got there.
Then she reheated half of a Big Mac in a crazy toaster oven.
We went to a Belgian Montessori school every day called “√âcole ouverte.”
A school that Anne Frank attended. I guess. Maybe. Or was inside once.
Or maybe my math teacher went to school with her in Germany.
That part’s not as vivid. And I’m sure any other person who is not me would remove it forthwith.
Maybe that other person should get their own blog.

Belgium is where I first tried wine.
I remember distinctly one of our chaperones following us around with a bottle of Sprite to dilute the alcohol.. But never taking it away.
It goes without saying that I loved it, but I’ll say it anyway.
I loved the flavor, and the color, and the danger of it.
The danger, and also the European acceptance.
I got to drink Framboise with every dinner at home.

It’s also the place where I first tried artichoke leaves dipped in grain mustard vinaigrette.
Something my parents tried desperately to replicate to no avail.
I now know it was just grain mustard, vinegar, and oil. Easy.
(this i learned at french camp the next year)
Oh, how the internet has just gone and changed everything..

I remember that my mother rolled each one of my outfits, underwear and socks included, each in a tight little package so I didn’t have to figure out what to wear everyday.

One evening, we had our own fireworks show where a Roman candle went haywire, and one of the Belgian students had to jump over a flaming ball.

There was another incident at the school where my brother was hit in the face with a soccer ball.
The ball had motor oil on it, and Juan got some in his eye. He had to go to the hospital.
My friend Jamila also took a trip to the hospital after breaking her thumb on a door jam while running from a kid with a potato gun.

I saw a dead black widow in the sink in the back of my classroom.
I left a $75 box of Godiva chocolates for my parents on a train coming back from Brussels.
I wet my bed and slept in it because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
This was not the first time something like this had occurred, nor the last.
I shared a room with my pen pal and a litter of 5 kittens with fleas.

We went swimming in the North Sea in our clothes.
Clothes that I put directly back into my suitcase.. Wet and sandy.
I still remember my mother’s face when she opened it.

I watched a girl shave her legs with a dry razor for the first time.
We drove on a tiny road with grass against the sides going at least 100mph.
When another car came, you had to bob off the road and stop.
I was terrified.

I looked like this then.

I think the fanny pack was the least of my worries.

Which brings me to why this matters.
My Slumdog Millionare moment..

One of the 14 days in Belgium was spent at a roller skating rink.
The likes of which could be unmatched by what I had seen in Milwaukee.
There were ramps, and climby things, and jumps..
Near the back of the rink, there was an incline in the floor that you had to go up and down to get around this sort of tall jungle gym..
I managed to get up the ramp, but lost control coming back down, and couldn’t swerve out of the way of a jutting platform.
It clothes-lined me and threw me backwards, tossing my legs in the air..
My shin hit the bottom of some metal stairs, and the wind was knocked out of me.
Before I was leveled, I felt like a million bucks.
They were playing my two favorite songs(I’ve Got The Power by German Eurodance project Snap!, and Pump Up The Jam by Technotronic.) on repeat, and I was pretty sure I was having the time of my life.

I lay under the climbing structure, bleeding, bruised, and trying to catch my breath while “I’ve Got The Power!” thrummed over and over through my nervous system.
My shin still has a dent in it, and I will never ever hurt myself without thinking of that song.

…And this is why, when I referred to “it’s gettin’ kinda hectic” as a C&C Music Factory song here..
I infuriated myself enough not to be able to get to sleep last night.
There’s no WAY I should have made that mistake.
First world problems, right?

Some songs and experiences just stick with you.
I still remember the smell of the country.
The way the milk came in cardboard containers, and the low fog that would hang on the tall grass in my host family’s backyard.