starting a new life in Ghent

I have barely thought about Belgium one bit in the past few weeks. All I could think about was leaving Kyrgyzstan, without paying attention to the next step. I was very much stuck in what had to be done right this second. Now, I’m sitting in a friends’ house in Ghent, the city that will be mine very soon. It doesn’t really feel like any monumental change has taken place yet. I was so exhausted after days of late-night gatherings and good-byes and pent-up stress of packing and trying to remember each and every tiny little thing that on our last night I was practically delirious with sleep deprivation and my ability to be sentimental or anything other than a zombie was completely gone. I briefly sobbed as the taxi pulled away from the friends’ house we had been staying at during our last few days. Since then I’ve been in a daze. I feel relieved, but also like I should now start planning the future. Do we want a house or apartment? In the center or a bit further? Will we buy bikes? Will we send Darwin to daycare? Will I work? Will I take Dutch classes?

I still don’t quite feel like I’ve left Kyrgyzstan for good. I feel like I’m on vacation, like my life is still waiting for me back in Bishkek. I think it’s going to take a while to realize that there has been a monumental upheaval in my sense of place.

I’ve spent the past few weeks pushing off any type of future planning. Friends in Bishkek started planning a hiking trip for a weekend after we were planning on leaving and I turned away when I heard pieces of the conversation. It’s not relevant to me anymore. I don’t have to think about the same future they’re thinking about. Now I have to get my attention back on track for planning. When our friends in Ghent ask us about something in September, Autumn, next Summer, I have to listen.

Even still, in some ways this isn’t the exact beginning of the next chapter of my life. We’re only in Belgium for a few days before we head back to the US for an epic(/chaotic) three-week tour of family and friends. Then we’ll be back here and can finally, like totally for real this time, start to settle into a routine.

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