19 07 2022

Blankenberge, Belgium

That day. Five years on.

Every July 19 I see for as long as I have left to live will serve to remind me how lucky I was and that I should appreciate everything I’ve gotten since then, because it came this close to not happening at all.

Today our port of call is…well, I already gave that way. As part of our continued and almost complete improvised vacation. Two years ago today, we were also in a beach and coastal city, that being Thessalonica, Greece, as part of our honeymoon.

Anyway, the Belgian coast with its beaches is not known as a warm one, but today it got up to at least 95 from what I can sense, on what will probably be the hottest day this summer in Western Europe. Thing about European heat waves, as I learned three years ago, is that they don’t last that long, so it doesn’t make much sense to call them “waves.” A day or two of really hot maketh a wave not. I remember when I was living in Wiesbaden doing the whole rehab thing three years ago. There was this one day when it topped out at or over 100, but then three days later, there was a morning low under 50. Likewise, here in Blankenberge, the next four days will be upper 60s and low 70s for highs, as they normally are this time of year, but cloudy with some rain every day until Saturday. European heat days also tend not to be any kind of humid at all, (today’s heat here was just about desert-like), unlike your typical St. Louis steam bath this same time of year.

Next year on this day, if all goes well, we won’t be anywhere near a beach. In fact, I plan on revisiting the scene, the very spot where it happened, with the better half, on July 19, 2023. Coming full circle. (“We’re married because this happened”). And we already have our plane tickets purchased — Thank God and Lufthansa for those new FFM to STL direct flights. We bought four round trip tickets, for us and the two hostages to fate and fortune, but we’re still undecided on whether we’re actually going to bring them. They’ll be two and a half years old then, and it will all depend on how terrible are their terrible twos, and how well and quickly and smoothly potty training goes, if they’ve even started by then. However, I really do hope to be able to bring them, not only for their intellectual development (inexplicably, I just wrote “intellectual development” and “St. Louis” in the same paragraph), but also for the fact that I have a pic of myself holding the palm of my hand against one of the legs of the Arch, and the photo is dated only October 1980, when I was three and a half. October 28, 1980 was the Arch’s 15th anniversary of completion, so I’m thinking that my mother took me there for some event or ceremony or observance relating to it, even if it wasn’t on that exact day. I want to replicate the photo with my own two.

Note: While I’m writing this post in the 11 PM hour where I am, I’m scheduling it to go live at 8:45 PM St. Louis time. About the exact time on the clock when…



7 responses

20 07 2022

It made it to 100 F officially here in Blankenberge yesterday.

That’s another thing for which I’m going to have to prepare my wife. Not only St. Louis’s crime, but St. Louis’s July. We might luck out and July 2023 is a decent one as far as St. Louis’s Julys go. But the statistics don’t lie. And I see that St. Louis is having a more miserable than usual July this year. But even if it is a more tolerable than normal St. Louis July, it will still be the longest sustained chronic stretch of summer heat that she will experience until that point.

I showed her the most current seven-day forecast for St. Louis this morning, and she clearly cringed. Like I said, here, you get one really hot day or maybe two in a row, and that’s it. In St. Louis, it hangs around and hangs around and hangs around, with a lot more humidity.

20 07 2022
Alright Dan

Show her this. More of those “gunshots ringing out”, 100 times over.

20 07 2022

Aside from buying the plane tickets, something else has happened while we’ve been on vacation that is going to matter very much to us next year at this time.

I didn’t put this in the post, because it’s not that relevant, and a bit long. So I’ll just make it a comment.

As many of you know, my younger uncle passed in June 2019, the day before I left for the D-Day 75th anniversary ceremony. Though the familiar folk held back from telling me until they thought that was over. So as not to ruin it for me.

The house my uncle lived in, he bought and moved in when I was a year old. He had the same land line phone number from moving in and for the rest of his life. When he and my aunt divorced, she wanted out of the marriage so badly and so quickly that she conceded the house to him. When she would have had a good chance to get it if it would have dragged on in family court, ceteris paribus. But once it was over, and the divorce was final, they suddenly got along a lot better. The aunt I mention (my uncle was blood), came here for my wedding. Her younger brother is the one I call my quasi-uncle, who was my best man then, and of course my travel partner here when I was a mere tourist four years ago.

Anyway, my uncle’s house was a de facto second home for me in several ways. Many holidays, of course. When I got out of the hospital the first time after the events of five years ago, it was there where I initially started my recovery. Though after the second hospitalization stint in early September, after I was discharged, I went to the quasi-uncle’s house near Waterloo, and in retrospect, it should have been there all along. I know that I had no prerogative in that decision either time, because of my cognitive deficiencies, but I was later told the reason why it was changed from my uncle’s house to my quasi-uncle’s house after the second stint in the hospital, and it’s a little complicated and not entirely for public consumption. Comma, E.

I was told, and can vaguely remember myself now, that I was able to remember my uncle’s land line phone number far before my own sail foam number. That’s because, like I said, my uncle had it for as long as I could remember, and since I was a year old. It pointed to the fact, which was very interesting and relevant to the doctors, that I could remember things in my life which were longer implanted memories, but it took awhile for the shorter term memories and the things which have mattered for not as long, to come back to my mind. Likewise, I was also told that, during the nadir of my cognitive capabilities, when asked for my address, I gave the one that was that of my longest term childhood home, rather than the one in Richmond Heights where I actually did live.

Back to the point, after I cognitively recovered, and thinking I’d never get out of the wheelchair, I had to go ahead and let go of my Richmond Heights apartment, and put the important stuff into storage, and sell the stuff that didn’t matter. Even though at that time I was living with the quasi-uncle, I changed my “official” mailing address to my uncle’s house, which is/was on the South Side, instead of the quasi-uncle. My uncle’s house is/was in Missouri, whereas Waterloo is in Illinois. Which means if I wanted to preserve my Missouri carry permit (though as pointless as it seemed at the time and pointless as it was in the long term), I had to keep an official Missouri address. Also, MO voting and my MO drivers’ license, again, even though I never thought I’d actually drive a car ever again. I even wrote here that I had to engage in some level of disingenuous physical subterfuge to renew my drivers license.

Anyway, after my uncle passed, thanks to Covid and other circumstances, his house was stuck in probate for longer than it should have, ceteris paribus. However, it finally got out several months ago, went right on the market. I got the call when we were still in Amsterdam earlier this month before we gave up on The Netherlands and started improvising, the call from my lawyer back in St. Louis, that the house was finally sold. He gave me the new owner’s number. I called him, we chatted. I told him the whole back story, and told him that, because the house he just bought is the last “official” and “on paper” St. Louis and American address of a St. Louisan and American now living day to day outside the United States, that he would still and probably for a long time be getting snail mail addressed to me and relevant to me. And he understood. He told me that he’ll most likely be moving in some time in August. I then told him that in July of next year, my wife and I, and maybe also our kids, will be in St. Louis. I asked him if it was alright if I stopped by and give the place one final look for closure and for memory’s sake. (Remember, my uncle and my mother were two people who saw me away at Lambert the day after Labor Day in 2018, and that was the last time I ever saw either one of them alive. Like I’ve been saying, for me, July 2023 is going to be mostly about closure.) And he said that he would be more than happy.

It is going to be, well, weird, seeing that house with someone else living in it, especially since in the entirety of my conscious lifetime it has been people closely related to myself living there. I’m going to have the same feeling that I got on January 20, 1989, when someone else other than Ronald Reagan was in the White House as President (have no real conscious memory of the Carter Admin), and in April 2005, when someone else other than John Paul II as Pope.

Sic transit. This too.

20 07 2022

I remember getting the call real late at night, on the 19th, that night, just as I was getting ready to go to sleep. I waited until I got the next update the next day in the morning that this wasn’t just a minor bang up and it was really that bad and that you were really that critical and then it was then in I think the early part of the afternoon I wrote the post to tell the world.

Funny the way it goes. When we traded personal information just in case, I always thought it would be you having to do this for me, because of how I make a living.

While we’re talking about heat and heat waves, the second part of that month was real hot, even worse than this month, as I remember. I did a bit of looking up and found this. July 19 was part of a 4-day streak of 100 or more, with 107 three days later on the 22nd. There were other real hot days and 100 days that month too.

21 07 2022

Not that the weather in the second half of July 2017 is the most important thing in my memory, but I do remember that day and the late afternoon as I was headed from the apartment to that dinner party was pretty hot. I would have had no clue beyond looking at those archived stats that July 19, 2017 had a high of 101, that it was that hot.

21 07 2022
David In TN

Speaking of closure, I did some of my own two years ago. I found the house I lived in age six though nine was up for sale. I wondered if I could see it again and the agent agreed to let me do so even though I wasn’t going to buy it.

I was able to go through it and found that closure is sometimes very welcome.

21 07 2022

Knokke, today, our final real stop. We head home on Saturday, as the real world and work beckons for both of us.

Just as we were in “France” (albeit Dunkirk is a rather un-France-y part of France) for Bastille Day, and even though Dunkirk did and does hold a ceremony, Bastille is way more a Paris thing, so too are we in Belgium for its national day, today, the anniversary of the day that a German was declared the monarch of this a Metternichian engineered non-existent state of existence buffer state. Knokke itself is holding a small ceremony, but once again, this day is way more a Brussels thing. For whatever that’s worth, and I’ve been to Brussels enough to know that it’s not much.

It's your dime, spill it. And also...NO TROLLS ALLOWED~!

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