Monday, October 03, 2016

RH 5777

"Well the first days are the hardest days, don't you worry anymore"

The words of the Dead, sung by a Parrothead in my ear.  I spent nearly 45 minutes lost, wandering around Brussels looking for different streets.  I had directions, but I think I daydreamed past a turn.  It happens.

But the Belgians are kind, and helpful with directions.  They are more laid back than the French, and they are quick to switch to English with no hesitation or pretensions.  Although I always found the French charming and surprisingly helpful--or at least they offered a great mouth pfff if they didn't know.  One thing I miss here in Belgium is French expressiveness.  The Belgians may speak French, but they are definitely not French.  Brussels is art nouveau and comics to French impressionism.

While I was sitting writing this, the bus sped right past me.  Yes, I spent 45 minutes lost looking for the bus stop--only to find it 4 minutes before the bus came.  Only to miss the bus because it didn't remotely slow down for my stop.

I hopped into the street but it was already far gone.  A group of friends on the corner witnessed my travails and tirade, and could just weakly smile.  Merde.

The next bus was in half-an-hour, and it was starting to rain.

I found a nearby bistro that was warm and tasteful in its art nouveau charm.  The bar was warm and so was the wine, and I fished a fly that flew into my wine out with a knife then watch him fly wobbly.

I caught the next bus, and asked the driver about the stop.  We went on a bit, and I recognized a sign that I was supposed to look for.  So I asked the bus driver if this was the stop.  He told me we passed it.  I hopped off and started heading back, but I kept walking and wasn't finding the street.  I was getting incredulous and thinking I got off too early.

I stopped at a gas station, and asked an Afro-Belgian for some directions.  He knew it was close by, and tried to show me directions on his phone.  Except it was taking a long time to load.  And finally when he got it working, the thing shut off the direction page.  So he told me to hop in.

The fellow gave me a ride the last 5 minutes to the synagogue.  I smiled the whole way, thinking of the Stranger in the night.  When we arrived, I explained the fellow that it was Rosh Hashannah, and he had done a great mitzvah, and that i would pay it forward.

And I found my way to services and arrived in-time to catch the tail end of the potluck and perhaps the only kosher food I will find here in Belgium.  I ended up at the kids table, and had a nice time chatting with the teens.  I was reminded how precocious third culture kids can be.

Services came, and it was a nice, enjoyable traditional, Reformative service.  With a lot of community and introspection, and didn't drone on long enough to trigger my ADD.  In short, it was a nice service. I enjoyed the evening and the community I met.  I dipped challah and apples in honey, then bade goodbye--sorry that I couldn't come for Rosh Hashannah today because school was starting for me.

I got a ride back into town to catch the bus on home ahead of the first day of school.

PS: I paid it forward today by buying a homeless man a chicken sandwich.  I explained in my stilted French that someone had done something nice for me, so I was trying to do something nice for him.  I think he understood me.

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