Tag Archives: alone

Christmas Eve the scientist way

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I spent Christmas Eve at the lab. How geeky can you get?

:D

No, seriously, I did spend Christmas Eve in the lab, but it wasn’t (really) by choice. As has been the case since last Friday, my internet connection at home is still broken, and thus the lab is the only place to connect to the world. I could’ve of course stayed home and watched a movie or so, but we decided to make full use of modern-day technology and I ended up spending Christmas Eve at Ts place. Via Skype.

Webcams on on both sides, they actually put the computer at the dinner table so I could join in the conversation, and later dragged ‘me’ along to the salon for the gift exchange ritual. We always (well… the tradition started last year…) do a Secret Santa thing with the whole family (2 parents, 5 kids and 3 gf/bf make it a big enough group to make it fun). The catch is you’re not allowed to buy a present, you have to make it. Since all of them attended hippie school they are pretty good with crafts and the like (they can sing and each play 15 instruments or sth), so I always feel a bit daunted when I see their presents. Last year for example, I knitted a hat for SE – which I was very proud of, since I had never knitted 4 needles before. This year, NE made a tea hat for her sister, including holes for the pout and the handle, with wool she had made herself. Like in, take what comes from the sheep, clean it, turn it into threads, then knit.

This year, my target was YE, the boyfriend of Ts middle sister. He works at customs in the harbor of Antwerp. And he likes to cycle. That’s about all I know about him. Oh, and he doesn’t like sweets, so baking cookies (always the easy way out ;) ) was out of the question. Finally, I came up with this:

I bought the cheapest water bottle I could find and painted it. Maybe not the most masculine gift ever, but I was pretty pleased with the way it came out, especially when he said that he never drinks enough when he goes cycling – so it will be actually useful. Of course, it’s not a candle shaped like St. Francis or a wooden candle holder, or a mosaic mirror. But I tried :).

And then, as the evening drew to a close, I was silly enough to check the Brussels Airlines site to see if there was any news about my flight tomorrow morning. There was :

This is nót what you want to see on Christmas Eve. I completely freaked out and Ts dad almost jumped in the car to come and get me (which, under good weather conditions, would probably take at least 10 hours. however, there is a reason many flights are delayed: the weather sucks). A refresh of the page 5 minutes later showed the “on schedule” icon, but I’m still pretty shaky. The flight is at 11:40 am, and the train to the airport takes half an hour, so normally I would leave around 10 am, but since a colleague of mine had a train delay of 2 hours, I will be getting up at seven to be on the safe side. T will also be getting up since I can’t check tomorrow morning whether my flight is still leaving (how did people live before the internet??) and if it is even worth it going to the airport at all. Meanwhile, we have decided I will be leaving my christmas presents here and travel with hand luggage only, because there are huge delays in Brussels in the luggage delivery and if there is trouble, I will be more mobile with just a backpack.

This does have the advantage I won’t have to pack too much :D.

Fingers crossed!

Alone in a crowd

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So, I’m back! I went home for the weekend, or at least, back to Belgium. We have this circle of friends with which we get out for the weekend twice a year, and it seemed fun to go back especially for the occasion, even though I had only been away for 3 weeks. In addition, it gave me the chance to pick up some much-missed stuff I hadn’t been able to bring on first arriving (my cycle bags! my thick pillow!!). So it should’ve been an all happy so-glad-to-see-you-all-again kind of weekend.

It wasn’t.

I have no idea what went wrong exactly, and where, but I felt so much out of place.
Who were these people?
What was I supposed to do?
What was I supposed to say to them, anyway?

I have known most of them for 10 years or more, they are some of my longest lasting friends. If I can’t be at ease around them, when can I?

Maybe I set my expectations too high. Maybe I was actually having fun and it was the thought of having to return to my solitary confinement that brought me down. Maybe it was weird being surrounded by people again after almost 3 weeks of isolation. Granted, I’ve been out with my colleagues once, I’ve had the dance course and stuff, but still, I’m alone most of the time. Maybe it was just hormones. Maybe it was a combination of all of these things. Whichever it was, I felt flooded by a ton of emotions, but happiness wasn’t one of them. Which only resulted in feeling guilty for not feeling happy and I cried my eyes out with T about it. It’s a horrible feeling not to be at ease around your friends.

It got better later on the weekend – we did this high rope course (which I LOVE to do) on Saturday and the whole team building experience made me feel more at home – but as I had to leave early on Sunday I couldn’t really enjoy it much, and the coming home alone didn’t exactly help to lift my spirits again.

I expected this to be a life-changing experience. In fact, I counted on it being a life-changing experience. But somehow I assumed it would be the kind of experience you look back onto and say: now thàt changed me.
I didn’t expect to feel it so soon, so physically, so PRESENT in my daily life.

I guess lesson 1 has been taught.