Home is Where the Passport is
Updated: May 27, 2019
'Home' has always been something of an awkward concept for me. I have spent most of my life between my mother's and father's houses, both of which are my home. The house of my best friend, whom I have known since four years old, also feels quite a lot like home. Then, at the age of 18, Worcester College became another home, and going back each term felt a little like coming home. I was never in Barcelona long enough for it to feel like home, but in a text to my boyfriend last night I talked about returning to Brussels as coming "home". There is a certain familiarity to this place, and it has grown on me. In a way I am glad my boyfriend will probably be staying on in Brussels when I move to Bordeaux as it means I can come back to visit the city as well as visiting him.
Going back to Bristol to see my family was lovely, and I managed to see my maternal grandfather and various aunts and uncles whom I haven't seen in over two years. My half-aunt has just had a baby girl, and she is probably the best-behaved child I have ever encountered. In the whole hour and a half they were with us at the house she didn't cry once. She has such an intelligent little face and I fell absolutely in love with her. Admittedly, as I creep slowly into my twenties, I am getting more broody by the minute. It's terrible. I ought to be retrained.
It was also nice to see my friends, and to go on a cycle ride with dad. He's a very keen mountain biker, and in recent years I have unfortunately lost my confidence in biking (it may have had something to do with my going over the handle bars of my bike in the middle of a course) but I feel like I am slowly regathering my confidence. When we are out in Spain, the (male members of the) family goes to a park where there are very intense and difficult courses. It would be great if one day I could go to the park with them, but I think it's a few years yet.
Something I found out from my stepfather about the Bristol Suspension Bridge is that the original designs for the bridge's suspension came from a woman called Sarah Guppy. She gave her designs to Brunel and other designers, who then built the bridge. It's funny thinking that such a significant part of Bristol's industrial architecture was largely designed by a woman and yet everyone associates the bridge almost solely with Brunel.
Seeing my Bristol friends was good fun, and I certainly made good use of the post-Christmas sales. The only trouble is that now I may have too many clothes out here to fit everything back into my suitcase for the return journey! I met some friends in Boston Tea Party, a long-term favourite of mine (and of half the bohemians in Bristol). I also went for champagne in Brown's, which my stepmother scolded me for being too flamboyant, and not what a supposedly 'poor' student should be doing. I agree, but I suppose Christmas puts me in the mood for Champagne. I don't know how much I must have had throughout the whole Christmas period, what with all the relatives I went to visit. My paternal grandfather's was without a doubt the best. It's due to the fact that his ex-wife's current husband (yes, my family is complicated) is great friends with various vineyard owners (they used to own a house in Burgundy) and gets fantastic Champagne for not very much money at all.
Another exciting development is my having bought myself a (rather ridiculous) print of a Russian modern art piece. It's called "La Meduse". I discovered it at an art gallery in Lyon when I was visiting my French exchange. Something about it struck me as terrifying but at the same time wildly intriguing and striking. The eyes stand out more than anything and it's hard to look away. She is currently on the wall above my bed and my mother's house. It probably isn't the nicest welcome present for anyone who comes to stay, but I love it.
Back in Brussels of course means back to work and back to translating legal articles and reports. The office today felt a little ghost-like. Belgians really do like their holidays, and so while almost every full-time working professional in the UK was back at 9am this morning, the Belgians are largely on holiday.
I'm still trying to work out what exactly it is I want out of a future career. It seems like the toss-up is between having a varied and exciting job in a company that is well-run and working for a cause that is worthwhile and has a direct impact on the lives of people in need. The trouble is that most organisations that 'help people' are badly run, and it is extremely frustrating. I realised last night that probably what I ought to do is to work for several years in a consulting firm (the Boston Consulting Group is currently my favourite) and have a great time, and then start up my own charity and ensure that it is run efficiently and effectively.