Salud! To old and new friendships !18 November, 2019
San Vicente del Raspeig, Monday 18/11/2019
Lavinia is closed for a few months, so that means extra time for ourselves, for other urgent things, and above all to tighten ties with friends and family.
I thought my 50th birthday was an excellent opportunity to invite some of my best friends to celebrate together, here in Spain. Of course, it’s not at all easy for them to ask for leave at work, jump on the plane and fly up to here, just to celebrate my birthday, even if it’s for a couple of days. And yet, two of our Big Five – our closest friends – managed to completely change their agenda and make the flight. That’s what I call pure friendship, friends for life. Unfortunately, the other 3 of the Big Five were unable to attend for a variety of personal reasons. At least not physically…
In my heart they were all there, one even thanks to the digital world, a a piece of virtual present. It’s not over yet, they’re still here with us, but I feel an enormous urge to write already, because it was a legendary reunion, already now. That’s one of the reasons that I received the book “The art of making memories” as a gift.
And that’s what I want to do now, put down on paper how I feel, because when they’re on the plane, that instant no- feeling might not be there in the same way anymore. The memory will certainly be there, but the home-feeling that I now experience of that warm friendship, I won’t feel it, only in my heart. The feeling of a warm nest, the fireplace that is burning, the cupboard that is suddenly full of personal belongings of others, the presence of others – a little irreverently put – who walk in and out, the fact that Wim and I are not alone here in our house, gives such a family feeling. Since we have lived here, we have hardly ever been alone, but surrounded by strangers. Strangers who were no longer strangers after only a few hours, or with whom we clicked and with whom we made friends, had a wonderful laugh and talk, with which we have made very beautiful memories. But it’s never the same as being together. It is Pats cap that is on the cupboard, the cap of a dear friend, it is the kitchen that is no longer my kitchen for a while, and that I very much like to let be Miekes kitchen for a while, it is the good night kisses of my dear friends, it is the nonchalant breakfast together, with the jam pot on the table and not in a nice saucer, it is the coffee they make themselves, because they feel at home. It’s being together, undisturbed, in a bathrobe, it’s me with my out-of-bed-haircoupe. It’s someone who raises the heating because she’s cold, it’s me stretched out in the seat in front of the fireplace reading my new book, Pat watching soccer on the laptop, Wim working at the table, and the sounds of Miekes delicious ducting in the background. It’s Delfien, Pats daughter, who, after a nice shower, comes to warm up at the fireplace and gives me a lovely neck massage. This is a home feeling that I will cherish, forever. Because that’s fate if you choose to leave your family and friends behind for a dream far away. The unfortunate thing is that I may not have embraced it enough when I was still living in Belgium. But maybe the experience here is just more intense because I had to miss it for so long. I count the days down to December when we leave for Belgium. We are already filling our agenda with new memories. Meeting again with the children, parents, family, friends. Every day we will meet people, and make memories there again, to take with us to Lavinia and they will give us energy to create warmth and a home feeling for our guests here.
The last few days have been very intense, already. We have been dining for hours. We laughed a lot, teased a lot – that’s a bit my style – but also had very intimate conversations, cuddled, cried. I have experienced an openness like never before. And my friendship and respect has only become deeper and more intense. Also in a new, totally unexpected friendship that I could never have imagined. I repeat myself, but I am grateful for the life I lead. For the opportunities I get, for the people around me, for unconditional love and friendship. For Mieke’s homemade blouses and loving kitchen, for the laugh-with-the-pit and Delfien’s tin of understanding, for the inexhaustible teasing between Pat and me, for the emotion in the eyes of Wim, for the virtual presence of Ann, for the phone call of Piet who happily sings Happy Birthday two weeks after my real birthday, for our children and for the friends who couldn’t be there, for the mountain on which I look out that freezes me every day, for the swim yesterday, outside, mid-November of all places. I cannot continue to enumerate, it would lead me too far. It is a true revelation that I wish everyone well. I hope that everyone in his or her life will have the opportunity to experience this feeling. In any way, even if only for a short time. That at a certain moment in his life he can say: I am happy with how I have lived my life….
Annemie ofte Ana