Let’s talk about Brian.
I don’t really recall how we originally met, but we went to high school together. We had mutual friends, took many of the same classes (including an honors government class which took us on a memorable three-day trip to Washington, D.C.), and in our junior year, joined band together in the same section. I can’t speak for him, but that it was one of the best decisions I made during those four years.
So with that added connection, we got to know each other a lot better. And when he went to American University in D.C. and I to Rowan, we still kept in touch.
Around the time that I was applying to study in London, I found out that he was planning to go to Brussels; AU has a specialized program where the students took classes together, went on field trips together, and had internships working with diplomats within the city. So, kind of like how my British Life & Culture class was set up, but that was their entire program (and add in a number of countries throughout Europe).
Naturally, we had to visit each other.
Many of my friends abroad visited or had friends and family visit them throughout the semester (or year)—I previously visited Sandy in Nice—, and while Brian and I were determined to visit one another, it turned out to be a lot harder to coordinate than simply snapping your fingers and saying, “Make it happen!”
It took until the end of April for me to make my way to Brussels during our three-week road trip across Western Europe, and I think I lucked out that everyone wanted to visit the city.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over two years since I was last in Brussels. So much has changed, and yet…it hasn’t. We both went to Los Angeles to visit another dear high school friend in July, and soon we’ll be getting lost in a city yet again, but this time it’s truly his city.
Although Tim came with me when I met up with Sandra, I wanted to meet up with Brian and his friends on my own. It wasn’t anything personal towards him, but after more than two weeks together in a four-door, I just needed a break from my roommate and constant companion.
We had dinner at this Greek gyro joint while talking a mile a minute. Despite how much we had talked on social media beforehand, we had so much to catch up on. Out of our home friends, he was one of the few who could relate to many of the things I had been dealing with, even though the specifics were different.
Once we watched a sunset on the top level of a parking garage, Brian took me to the biggest bar I had ever seen to meet up and get to know some of his friends: Delirium. As a bar, it’s very touristy, but for a bunch of Americans in a foreign city, it turned into a regular watering hole.
The next morning I took Tim (who had gone exploring on his own the previous night) with me into the City Centre. From the Atomium to the European Union headquarters (which we jokingly called “the capital of Europe”), it felt like we walked our way through the entire city, even if there was much that we missed. But what we missed we made up in food. If only they sold Belgian waffles at Wawa…
There was one more city left to visit on our Western European road trip, but I was starting to get antsy. I wanted to get back to Kingston.
Author’s Note: As you may have noticed, I haven’t updated this blog in some time. I think I’ve gone past of the point of valid excuses (life really does get in the way), but I do hope to one day finish this story. I’m guessing 3-4 more posts and maybe a reflection-type/close the blog post? At the very least, this project is one giant trip down memory lane.
(Brussels: 25-26 April 2011)