Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A belated happy May Day to everyone in the states!  I was planning to say so yesterday but never got around to it.  Ah well.

It was a 4-day weekend but somehow felt longer, which is surprising as that's generally not the direction weekends go.  I would attribute it to keeping busy and not very much sleep:  on Friday evening I went to sleep at the house of a girl named Aurore with some of her friends.  In the terms we used to describe it to her friends, she is my Belgian "marraine," or godmother; she's supposed to be my AFS contact to talk to if I have problems with my exchange, and someone who would be, in theory, easier to talk to than a lot of other AFS volunteers because she's about my age and just (last summer) got back from an exchange in the US.  The first time I met her it was to talk with her about some of the trouble I was having with my first family, but since then we've met up a few times because we're friends.  It's amazing to me how quickly exchange students, past and present, become friends; after speaking for a couple minute's we exchange numbers and cities where we live and tell the other that they have to come visit us because it would be so cool.  I don't know if it's because we're all so outgoing (or have become it) or because we know what it's like to arrive and know nobody and therefore try to make a connection with everyone we meet... honestly I'm not sure I care.  It's the way it is and it's awesome.  Point.

Bref (from what I can tell, the equivalent of "anyway..."); I spent friday evening and late into the night playing Disney Trivial Persuit, making crêpes and chocolate sauce, and watching movies ("The Notebook," "Grease," and one called "Blood & Chocolate" that was about werewolves but that I didn't quite follow because I fell asleep).  Saturday afternoon I got home and helped keep Constantin and his two friends busy while my host parents, the mother of the friends, and my host-grandmother helped get the house ready for the big party the next day: it was my host brother's first communion.  I played soccer and hide and seek and pushed them on the swings, steered them out of the way (they like to be around to watch tables get moved and floors mopped even if it's inconvenient for those doing the work), took them up to my room to draw, taught them American football, and did my best to keep them from fighting.  Afterwards we all went out for a very well-earned meal at my host family's favorite Chinese restaurant.

The next morning I got up earlier than normal (for a weekend) to shower, got dressed in my nicest clothes (which I slightly embarrassingly don't have a lot of here), and headed to the church for mass.  Since I'm not religious at home and my host family doesn't go to mass unless it's a special occasion, I'm not particularly versed in the ways of church services or first communions, but this one seemed nice.  There was a lot of singing and cute little kids, and the inside of the church was really beautiful.  It didn't last as long as I thought it might and we were back home by 1:00.

From then, people started arriving for the party.  First it was the close family, who joined us for lots of appetizers and champagne followed by a two-hour, four-course meal which left everyone stuffed.  We didn't have more than half an hour to rest, though, before the rest of the guests began to arrive.  I believe I heard the number 80 thrown around as an approximation of the number of people there.  I'd believe it; my host family has a big house and big yard, and both were pretty full up with people.  More appetizers and drinks were served right away, but I was too full to have anything except water and celery.  I was hoping that the work it took to digest it would make me feel less full, but I'm not sure it accomplished anything.

Around 6 they brought out some cold things to eat for supper: fish, ham, carrots and salad-type veggies.  I resisted these, being still full from the meal that had only ended around 4, although when they switched to a hot buffet around 8, I did manage to take some food.  And, of course, some dessert for the finale.  Apparently it's a tradition for Easter and often communion as well to have a lamb cake; Constantin's was made of strawberry and vanilla ice cream.  He, being the star of the evening, got to cut off the lamb's head (which let forth a stream of red "blood" from the neck) and have that piece.

I didn't know a lot of the people at the party, but it was still good to see all of the people I did know and be introduced to a few others.  People like my host-grandmother or the friend that had helped set up hung out with me a lot of the evening, introducing me to some of the people that came up to talk to them.  The crowd started to wane by 10 or 11, and helping to clean up I became even more impressed with my host parents' ability to throw a party.  I don't know if the descriptions do it justice, but it really was an impressive affair.

Monday and Tuesday I took it easy and went in to Liège a bit to see some friends.  Nothing much but it was nice to see them, and the weather wasn't bad.  Although today it was.  So much for May flowers.  It didn't make so much of a difference, since I was in school, so I can be at least glad the rain held off until today.

À la prochaine!

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