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  • Writer's pictureAstrid Van Gramberen

It has always been there, but you’ve missed it, and that’s okay.

Last week, I was riding my mum's bike. I have been riding that bike since she bought it (you know, occasionally), which is fifteen years (ish). ('ish' is New Zealand slang for 'more or less'). I always thought her bike had six gears to choose from, they are on the right hand side. I have always found that six was not a lot, but oh well. Well, you can't believe what happened last week. I discovered... the left handed gear switch!? Seriously, I had NEVER noticed it before, and now, all of a sudden, I saw it... after fifteen (ish) years, it's there... The bike has more than six gears. I just never realized it. The switch is a bit hidden maybe, it's a differently shaped one than the right hand one... But, come on, how could I have missed that? Instead of thinking about the how-could-I-have-missed-that-question, I enjoyed my feeling of perplexity. It was actually quite funny. My next thought was: "It has always been there, but you’ve missed it, and that’s okay."

There is nothing, in between, of what we are, and what we see. A lyric of a song Spotify forced on me (you know, when you start listening to your favorite songs, and after those, a couple of the same songs that you don't know are played). I like that lyric. I think it entails some truth!

Of in het Nederlands: het is niet wat je ziet, het is hoe je kijkt. Brendan, Maurice en ik zijn bijvoorbeeld thuis in twee landen. Ze kunnen niet verder van elkaar liggen, België en Nieuw-Zeeland. We kiezen ervoor om de landen niet met elkaar te vergelijken. Uiteraard zijn er verschillen. In vanallas en nog wat! Het schoolsysteem vergelijken, goh ja, er zullen wel voor-en nadelen zijn in elk systeem, niet? We kijken eerder naar waar we ons goed bij voelen, en naar wat elk land ons te bieden heeft.

By choosing not to compare both countries too much from a negative perspective and noticing the beautiful things, we are always in the right country at the right time. And our special situation offers us a perspective of value. What do I value in the country that I am in right now? And if I do miss something, it is nice to know that I value that in the other one. It is because we've got this two-country-situation that we got the opportunity to notice the beautiful things, that we can look differently. For example, we love grabbing a sandwich from the 'Panos'. Fresh, crunchy baguettes, fresh ingredients, great and endless toppings. In Leuven alone there are three Panos-shops in three different locations. Panos is everywhere in Belgium! Great, fresh ingredients and low budget sandwiches are everywhere here. It is a pretty ordinary thing, a 'Panos-sandwich', but in New Zealand they don't exist.

Hetzelfde gaat op voor het fietsen in België (het kan overal), de onderschatte bakkerij-craft (overal goede bakkers), en het aanbod van geweldige bieren (no need to say more). In Nieuw-Zeeland genieten we dan weer extra van de zee die ons omringd, de planningsdrang die veel lager ligt, en de seizoenen die zachter zijn.

Something we try to do in both countries, is having small adventures and an open mind while doing them. Things like: hey, do you want to go have breakfast before work in that new café (in New Zealand, café's open earlier than in Belgium) (they also close earlier btw). Or, hey, let's go for a walk in this neighborhood, who knows where it will take us. Or, this seems a cool spot to do an overnight in that long weekend that is coming up, do you want to try it? Or, let's plan a picnic. Even a walk around the block at home can feel like an adventure, when it is raining for example, or when we have Maurice with us. When we are out and about, we just go with the flow. And we are happy with what the roads brings us. Maybe we choose to wear slightly rose-tinted glasses, ha. Or maybe this is more correct: we are just open for the rose touches in the landscape, they are always there. (Next to other colors.)

This reminds me of another rose cloud adventure that we recently had. A friend of mine married his dream-man in the South of France. This wedding was a fairy tale, a REAL one. With 'real' people, you know? Real speeches, that showed how well they and the bridal party knew and respected each other. Real live acts, that were fueled by love for one another. Real friendship, a few friends made a magazine starring the happy couple (I thought that was brilliant!). There were also (unreal) tattoos, that other friends had made. Those had really cool quotes, though. Love is love.

I thought about this. Everyone showing up in the South of France for this dream wedding, how cool is that. The location was beautiful, so sereen. But from my perspective, the couple that got married was the biggest inspiration. They had been brave enough to choose for a fairytale in 'real' life: their relationship and adventure together. I don't believe that things are written in the stars. But oh, how I believe that you can write some things in the stars... By choosing to see the rose touches of your partner and by realizing that there is so much more to see in one another (you never know when you will discover the left side gear of your partner, or of yourself, right!?), I hope they will dream on, together.

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