Monday, 27 February 2012

Waves of homesickness.

As I sat having my hair cut last Saturday I reached to unwrap the biscuit given to me with my coffee. It was a speculoos. Just a silly biscuit made me think of the days when I bought the very same biscuits for my children for their packed lunches - not a touch on the ones bought from Dandoy, but then, you wouldn't buy biscuits from that shop for your child's lunch box. And as I sat there with my hair wrapped in tin foil I started to think about home.

I miss américain, frites, salade, buckets of mussels, patisseries, all those beers, the shops, the culture, the diversity of Brussels with its ethnic markets, hidden parks, multi-cultural population and numerous attractions that take place in the summer - many of which are free.

I miss my old home with the large garden and pond. My newts will be out and playing now but I have a feeling that the new owners of the house may have filled the pond in. I never want to find out. I miss playing Swingball in the garden against one of the children. That can easily be remedied, obviously. I carefully brought over the four Swingball bats that I have accumulated over the years and the spare tennis ball attached to the rope....but forgot the pole.

I miss my hairdresser who I have known ever since I was pregnant with Todd. We became good friends and I trusted her to do whatever she wanted to my hair. 99% of the time I was extremely pleased. The hairdresser that I have found in Crewe is pretty good too, but it costs more to have my hair cut and coloured here than in Belgium. I need to find somewhere else, but as most women will tell you, finding a good hairdresser whom you trust completely is no easy feat, and once you find that person, you don't like leaving them. Trial and gross error.

It is at this time of year that I used to watch the changes to my garden: snowdrops, wild daffodils, anemones, crocuses all popping up underneath the hedge while some yellow flower would start to blossom around the pond. Little things like that often catch me off-guard and my mind starts wondering back to the years spent in that house.

And of course, above all, I miss my children. Coralie hasn't had much luck lately - in December, a hoodie smashed her car window when she was at a set of red lights and stole her handbag. Last week, as she was looking for a parking spot, somebody smashed into her car, moving it so far that she smashed into another car. Both she and her boyfriend only suffered minor shock and slight whiplash. The idiot driver who caused the accident wasn't insured and so it has all been settled without involving insurance companies and much in Coralie's favour.

Tatiana had problems with the first job that she took on and was fairly relieved when she didn't pass her trial period, but she missed having me around to talk to for advice. We managed via emails and phone calls and she is much happier in her new job, although whenever something crops up, I am the first person she contacts. She is a big worrier. I can't think where she gets that from.

Apparently Todd is going to study law. I can't get in touch with him - he doesn't read his emails and if he reads his Facebook messages, he never replies - and his phone is always switched off. I think he is angry that I left Belgium as he once said that "I have it easy", but I have no idea what he meant by that as not only is it far from the truth, but he did decide to live with his dad. I'm going to let him grow up and see what he wants then. No point in pressuring the boy.

When in Belgium, I used to crave fish and chips. Why? The chips are vile and the fish is so greasy. But that was that I used to miss. I left England before shops stayed open late or were open on Sundays, but even so, that never really affected me. I remember that pubs used to be better than they are now - or maybe I saw everything so much more differently then than I do now. Most likely.

It's only normal to miss things that I took for granted for 28 years, and I expect these pangs will happen every now and then. But I'm going to make a damn good attempt at enjoying living here.

You only live once.


Guyana-Gyal said...

I used to feel this way when I first came back home after living in the Caribbean for quite a while...

...let's just say I was miserable.

So one day, I decided to try to enjoy life here [that was in '98].

Though I still don't have those things I used to enjoy, like blue sea, mountains, mist, super-creative people, villas on the beach etc. etc., there are other things I love about here that the Caribbean doesn't have.

Dig in, enjoy England and Crewe with all your heart & soul.

anna said...

It's all very understandable - but don't fear that the good pubs/ nice foods/multi-culturalism that you miss or remember from before have gone. Do bear in mind you're in Crewe. That can't help.

Zoe said...

True, Mama Anna (;-) ). I was told that there were Francophiles here..... Yeah, like fuck.

JudyBelg said...

I've been an expat a couple of times. When I lived in France I wanted visitors to bring Belgian coffee,when I was back I asked travellers to bring French coffee.And that's just coffee.It takes a while to call a house a home.And for everyone to come around.Hugs xx

Anji said...

I'm sorry you miss your garden. I'm missing mine too, but there is the garden you have now. I'm stashing seeds away for when the weather is right for planting.

You will adjust, it takes time.

Todd will come back, just send him the usual love. He's got a lot of growing up to do.

What would we do without telephones, skype and emails?

Sharon J said...

I've been there too. It's hard and I think only those who have lived abroad for a huge chunk of their lives really understand how it feels. Others may say they do, but how can they? I still miss the pretty winters, fishing on the fjords, walking in the endless forests, the long summer evenings... oh, I could go on forever. But as Guyana Gyal said, I've found things in England that we didn't have in Norway that I also love and know I'd miss those things if (when) I go back.

I think all you can do really, is be thankful that you once had those things in your life xx

Keith said...

Zoe, you not imagining that things are not the same in England as they were in nineteen hundred and the good old days!

Britain is going down the pan; fast. Most people now don't care about others. It's a me, me, me culture and a rat race to accumulate money and material things.

My daughter is like Todd, she never contacts me and everytime I ring I get the effing answerfone. Old age has caught up with me, and I'm more or less confined to the house now. In our town the streets are full of litter, gangs of feral youths wandering about, etc.

Other than that everything is 'honky-dory' as they say. Bah!

lom said...

crewe sounds as boaring as hell, move to Birmingham. lot's of fun, culture, and green spaces

Zoe said...

lom, we have so much countryside around us - I love it. Crewe itself isn't great, but is small and very community-spirited. In places.

Anonymous, too said...

Look at it this way: The Internet makes it much easier to purchase some of the stuff you miss and have it shipped to you. It takes a year or two to get a garden into shape, but something should be blooming in Crewe before too much longer. And, although you love him to bits, you're not exposed to Todd's tantrums now.

Still, I know you miss the girls, and the newts, and your old hairdresser. Sorry to hear about Coralie's misfortunes but very glad she's OK. Hope Tatiana's new job works out very, very well. Maybe one of them can bring some newts along on her next visit!

Thought of you today when I had the (bad) luck to encounter Hello Kitty women's bedroom scuffs in one of TK Maxx's sister stores here. I can't imagine why they were on the clearance table. . .;-)!

mpprh said...

I miss Belgium, too.

Glad to have caught up with you again, and I've spread the word to those who followed your previous life at

Best wishes


Alex said...

Peter above sent me your link. I've missed reading your stuff.

Hannah Joy Curious said...

Having played geographical hopscotch for most of my life, I used to feel like this all the time. Recently, I finally found a place to call home and belonging filled in the big void where homesickness used to be. I hope you find your home again too, soon.

Zoe said...

Thanks for the link Peter - I'm going to have to start blogging more frequently - once I finally stop the decorating. Painting is just one of the many causes of backache, I've found :-(

Invader_Stu said...

I'm sorry to hear how hard it is at the moment. I can only imagine.

Anonymous said...

It's always difficult to pick up and restart a life far from the comforts of what was normal. I felt the same way when I moved out of NYC almost 13 years ago. It took some time, but I eventually adjusted, but still relish the 2-3 times a year I go back to see my family, friends, and the great food that only NYC can offer.

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