A Naturally In-Spring Walk Around Ghent
As if a playlist turned into Boch paintings
Oh, how the doves sing and schildpadden hide in roosts. It is a glorious Saturday today. Unsarcastically said, I do feel bathed in glory. My throat hurts terribly 2 weeks after covid and my priorities are stuck on an imaginary board of bureaucracy. I do quite hate the sound of my own cough by now. But, yes I feel exquisite.
I bathed in the sun with my naked body as my heart stood in meditation. We are all creatures capable of these tiny little minutes. I left Greece´s sea and came to Belgium´s showers of rare sun and infinitely sweet silence. I am meditating every moment I allow myself to just be.
It is only an extra luxury I could just be in those moments in a shower that the sunrays hit directly.
Gloriously so, I shall take the hands of many and lead you all to a trip in Ghent. Ghent has been my favorite place in Belgium. Bruges gets many compliments from tourists but Ghent is full of possibilities. And I love possibilities. I love the pre-birth of hope.
Leading a path down this student city, I encounter the many bridges above the river. Compared to other European countries I have visited, this river habituating the town, is something I treasure. Annecy of France is pretty, too, and Germany has its beauty. But, here the young people breathe joy into nature. Like a child that will step on the sand and chase the birds, here all the students are fully enjoying… the magic, the life of Ghent.
As I walk across the bridges, I see people. Young people, my age, are a sight I value immensely for personal and cultural reasons. I can not count enough canoes that have started splashing the waters. The ducks have moved in their little nests as kids from tourists throw trigonal pieces of cucumber to them.
By the way, it is pronounced cucumber not cacamber like I’ve been saying it. I write exceptionally, and I speak weirdly. Like every other non-US writer. But, let’s remember what’s important. We are all visitors in Ghent right this second.
I notice my favorite guide on the tourist boat. He is telling travelers about the golden ages of Belgium where women would do anything they were told. Following a roar of laughter, he continues on by describing how marriage and hell are spelled the same way in some countries. Coincidence, he asks?
I want him to officiate my marriage.
The sun is inviting, flirting with every young person’s eyes. Filling us up with energy. And with energy, we go to three different bars.
There is no alcoholic beverage as sweet and tasty as Belgium’s beers. The true masters.
I drink beer in each bar. With fruits, with low alcohol, even one that reminds me of drinking something with nuts. I am telling you, I am coughing as I make notes for this piece. I ask for water like the most innocent tourist they’ve met.
Surprise, I am no longer a tourist.
As we sit down at the last bar, I notice all the comic designs and board games. A comic book of Sandman hits me straight in the eyes. I look around and see, I am in a comic book store. But, also a bartender serves beer to everyone. Officially, I have entered the house of a thousand stories.
I see The Walking Dead figures looking up at me. Next, the sexual vision of Batwoman opening up her legs has my eyes dragged there every five seconds. And of course, the mastery of Attack on Titan on actual print.
Valuable creations are bring brought to life here. Another connection of creation finding young people. I love how everything in Ghent is accessible to us.
The sun is going low as we walk around neighborhoods I have not visited yet. I see so many tea places. Beautiful tea places. I try the chamomile and jasmine one before buying two samples for me to have at home. My lover says the smell is really strong. I am fucking in love with it. I will be burning it later on the stove to grant the aroma to the entire apartment.
Close to a catholic church, a woman is demonstrating stories about Ghent to tourists. I think I know her from Airbnb. I love to look at the experiences given there. A day to spend with farm animals. Or ride a horse, which frankly scares me and excites me. I must experience that to have another fantastic story for dinner parties. I see a cottage experience calling my first and last name. But, it doesn’t call my credit card score.
I describe to my friends how much I love it. Even as the wind tires me out, I am full of life. I am a chrysanthemum tiring out from energy being directed elsewhere. My energy doesn’t go to the usual places such as worry and depression. Ghent requires me to become a moving target for negativity. I walk, I move, and I witness so many different sights and people and window stores that I drown in them. Exhausted, my soul eats until it’s full, ready to heave.
Our last visit is to a cat café. The most beautiful, calm place you could visit. After your church, of course. This place.. is a sanctuary for cats and luckily people are allowed in for 2 days out of the week. There is a place reserved for tables for us but the rest is the cat’s safe place. Where we are told we are not allowed to go in and follow the cats. I love it. I love it that the people working there put the cats first. They explain to us how the cats are learning how to socialize so they can be adopted and that everyone working there is a volunteer. I find such kindness and caring behind the idea of this café.
Two cats come close to us while we sit there but only come into contact with the toys we give them, never us. I can understand a bit more about their fear of us, about an animal not knowing how to socialize when I see one guy demanding to pet a cat but the cat runs away. In fact, the cat never comes out again from her safe house.
The hours are spent amazingly calm. The café smells wonderful and my kombucha drink is delicious. There is the eerie calm as the cats sleep and we all remember who we are. We are alive. Capable of having these moments. Capable of creating peace for a little bit.