Happy Obama Year!

Antwerpen

Smog threatened to conceal our twelfth floor view of fireworks. Missing the bitter cold wind of winter was not something I expected to feel! I have toughened up a bit by now – thankfully – just in time for real winter. I’m able to be outside for brief periods without wrapping myself like a mummy in seventeen layers. (Emphasis on “a bit,” “brief,” and outdoors: inside, when I’m not moving, chill still gets me quick.)
The atmosphere of the gathering was plenty warm. Preparations had taken days; all unfolded seamlessly.
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Guests arrived, mingling and nibbling commenced. Conversations scurried along in Flemish and English (to accommodate yours truly), marked by the casual inter- and cross-flowing of old friends. I listened to words I could not understand, reading mood and intonation, basking in the ambiance as an emotional voyeur: while usually unable to conjure content, the sense of pleasure was pervasive. Slowly, comfortably, we shifted from scattered pairs and trios to the table, devouring fish and salad, washed down with Cava, Sangria, sherry or red wine, as you wish. Next came the scampi.
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We were treated to two courses, in fact: the second serving of angel-hair pasta drowned in coconut milk outdoing – surprise! – the deliciousness of the first serving. Yum! Then, cheese.
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Suddenly there were fireworks! Midnight already? We didn’t believe it, so immersed had we been in each other’s fine company. Some slight wind must have come up, our view was not obscured, although veterans from last year say the air was not completely clear. Nonetheless, guests flocked to the balcony and windows to gaze upon the spectacle. Here we go – the first Obama Year! Let each of us endeavor to prove sufficient to the enormous tasks which lie ahead.
Dessert came next. Wow. One taste treat after another! And so much laughter. “Do you understand?” I was asked a few times. No, I had to confess, but giggles, chuckles, and guffaws are contagious: they convey meaning enough. ­čÖé
As gently as they came, departures ensued.
Today, the spirit of generosity lingers.

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