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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chapter 10 - Someone Stole All The Green Crayons in the box!

Thursday, August 11th 1988
Amsterdam, Holland

We are in Amsterdam now, leaving the airport and I think people are all really sick.  They are all so nice and it’s really cold outside.   Well, not that cold to be honest.  But cold enough that I was glad to see the fiat rental car pull up.  The car is huge!  OK, that is an understatement.  To be honest the car is big enough that I was grateful once we got it all loaded with our 3 pieces of luggage that there was still room in it for JP and I.  Well, possibly, I am sitting with my carry-on on my lap. 

We are flying down road A2 heading to Belgium.  I say flying - because we are flying!  The sky is cloudy and it is raining, this weather however does not stop JP from going 140 down the road.  I have to keep remembering that it’s kilometer’s no miles.  So really that’s just somewhere in the 80’s.  Way to fast for me.  But not enough to make me lose the smile on my face. 

All the taxi’s here are Mercedes.  Really, I was watching them back at the airport and when I asked JP, he looked at me like I was crazy for even asking.  “Ya, So” was all he said.  The country must be rich, is all I can think of, the the average taxi driver to drive a Mercedes Benz around. 

Everywhere I turn there is more green.  I noticed that as we were landing in the plane and now, as we are driving down the freeway.  Everything is green.  It’s not just one color of green, it’s every shade of green you could ever imagine.  It’s like they were giving the 64 box of crayons and they took the sleeve that held all the green one’s and just dumped it over.  Letting them fall over the fields and hills and wash past the freeways and creaks, mixing together making more colors as they blend.  It’s a breathtaking mix of green.

We just passed a windmill! 

The green color isn’t just the only change, I am noticing the cows.  They look just like ours that we have in our country but these are stupid.  They’re running all around and across the green fields.  I have never seen cow’s just running.  Maybe they are running for fun?  Several of them are laying down and I ask JP “why are some of the cows laying down and other‘s running all over the place?”  I’m thinking they might be hurt or something.

“They’re just cow’s”  He says back.  “They take better care of them here.”  I believe him.  How lucky the cow’s must be to be in this country then back in America just standing in one place. 

He is driving faster, I know it’s because he wants to see his family and I can’t blame him.  I would be the same.  After the hours in the plane and now the near 4 hours getting to his parent’s house I am finding myself extremely nervous.  It never really dawned on me I would be meeting his parent’s! 

There is a little ‘eek’ feeling that rolls over in my stomach as we come down a hill and turn onto a city street.  Zooming through the tiny skinny streets with rock buildings on both side’s I wonder, just how far away are we really?  Do I have time to change my mind now?  Will they like me?  Probably not!  I straighten what I can of my hair and clothing and get ready for what seems to be a meet and greet in the short future. 

My heart starts to race as he turns the clown car onto a gravel road leading to just a few houses.  We pull up to the one on the right and JP motions that it’s the one.  I get out, being met by his sister who comes out of the house to meet us!  She seems nice.  I understand nothing of what she says as his parent’s follow behind her also.  I stand there with a smile on my face, lost in the conversation that is going on around me and wait.  I wait for the conversation to be translated for me to understand.  I wait.  I really wish I could speak French.  I wait.  They are talking so fast!  I wait. 

I follow them inside while I wait.

Friday, August 12th, 1988

Observations have shown that while the country is very green and buildings are very beautiful the mattress’ are very hard.  I don’t even really know how to describe it, other then they just feel like a large bumpy old pillow thrown on a frame called a bed and people just sleep on them.  Who care’s that you wake up all crooked and lopsided.  I wonder, do they know that there are these large mattress’ out there that are wonderful and soft and cushiony and cradle you gently, drifting you into a loving sleep!

And what’s up with the cow under the bedroom window at 5 in the morning?  That thing is noisy!  Nearly ever morning at home I am woken up by the Harley Davidson neighbors with their - don’t they call them ‘Hogs?’  Well here in Belgium we have real life livestock to wake us up!  How special is that? 

We are heading out to visit his brother.  He is a mail carrier so JP is hoping that he can catch up with him on his route. 

We actually find him at the local pub, bar, saloon… what do they call ‘em?  He is sitting on a stool, at the bar, drinking a beer!  Never in America have I ever seen my postman sitting in a bar, drinking a beer in uniform with my mail on the stool next to him.  OK, maybe I am sheltered.

We leave the bar and head back into the town of Dinant to pick up his son.  I am again nervous, getting used to the feeling of knots living in my stomach.  We pull up to a street with small skinny sidewalks and a large stone wall.  The house, in the middle of town is large and European country in style.  Something I would never be able to afford to recreate at home.  A woman comes to the door and opens it.  She is blond (not natural), very skinny, and wearing blue eye shadow.   Blue?  I catch myself starring at her eye lids not able to get passed the blue color.  I haven’t seen that blue since the late 70’s.  I am shocked even more to find that this woman is Martine, JP’s ex wife.  She is pulling us into her house down the large hallway with the dark large woodwork into a sitting room.  We go no further then the sitting room.  We sit on the benches, they are talking fast French to each other, she keeps looking at me with odd glances and I wonder if it’s because I can not stop starring at her eye lids. 

I wonder if JP still love’s her and still wishes he could be with her?  I wonder if he was given the option if he would go back to her?  I wonder how someone so pale and thin thinks dark blue eye shadow could possibly look good on her? 

The conversation lull’s for a moment and I take a chance to talk.  “I love your house, It’s beautiful!”  JP looks embarrassed he has to translate it for me.  But he does.  He say’s it with a chuckle, I imagine he probably threw in a comment about how I was raised in a barn or something like that.  But she smiles back.

“Merci,”  She replies and points out the window towards the back yard.  With more color’s of green then I have ever seen in California she starts talking in French to JP. 

“She says they have a BBQ.  They BBQ out in the back when they weather is nice.”  He translates for me.  I am sure she told him to tell me this since most of the conversations I am never a part of.

“Really?”  I comment back and then wonder, why would she tell me that?  Doesn’t everyone BBQ?  Isn’t that just what people do?  But she just nods in my direction like it’s something special that not many have the privileged of doing.

Quentin came down from the upstairs to be with JP.  Seeing father and son together, hugging each other was a site to see.  They clung to each other like glue!  They sat and talked for a bit more and both got up.  It was my queue we were leaving, I am getting good at following body language.  We are taking Quentin back to see JP’s parents for a visit.

JP hugged and kissed Martine as we walked out of the door and just as she closed it, he turned and looked at me, “what’s up with the blue eye’s?“  I burst into laughter.

Friday, August 12th, 1988 - Evening

We are sitting in yet another tavern (that’s what they are called.) and I am grateful that the American boy that lives next to his sister Catherine has come with us.  Greg is in the Army and stationed here in Belgium.  We spend the night sitting in the corner of this tavern while everyone else comes in starring at me.  I smile and just when I feel as if the smile is beginning to fade I smile some more.  I have never seen JP happier.  His friends have all heard he was in town and they are pouring in to the tavern to say hello.  Our table is full of people coming and going and most are staring at me.  Most don’t say hello, they just look at me and talk to JP.  Greg, the American, I am sure feels as if he needs to stay near me since I have no one else to talk to, I don’t understand the language and heaven forbid someone try and talk to me I wouldn’t know how to respond.  I feel sorry for his wife Wendy as she sat next to him.  I wonder if they are having as much fun as I am not at this very moment.  I smile, as I watch people drinking, the more they drink the louder they become.  The more I smile.

In walks this man, tall, messy dark hair, slightly over weight and loud!  Could it be that he came from another tavern or is he just normally this loud without being drunk yet?  He see’s me and I near duck under the table and he comes rushing up on me.  Am I in trouble?  What have I done?  He came right up to me kissing me on my cheeks and talking to JP.  My smile is gone and I am trying frantically to figure out just what or who this person is.  That is when I hear it, people are calling him Fifi!

Fifi?  Fifi is what we call our pet poodle’s in America.  Fifi is not the name of a man.  Not in America at least.  He looks at JP and talks quickly to him.  Why do they all talk so fast? 

JP turns to me and tells me that Fifi said ‘An American girl is very beautiful’.  Maybe a man named Fifi isn’t that bad after all.


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