April 18th, 2009

hobbies-can't look


The summer before my 7th grade year, we moved overseas to Belgium. I didn't even know where Belgium was on a map beforehand. My dad was stationed at a tiny little Air Force base named Kleine Brogel (strangely, I can't find a translation for Brogel online...any of my Dutch LJ friends able to help?). We didn't live in base housing, instead my parents chose to rent a house on the outskirts of a little farm village called Overpelt which was a few miles away, but we spent nearly a month of the summer before we found the house living in a family-run hotel with our 2 cats who had come over with us from the States. Because the base was so small there was only an elementary school available and so I was to be bussed an hour over the border to an International school in Brunssum, Holland The Netherlands. The school was primarily military kids but there were some Dutch nationals and lots of other diplomatic corps and military brats from other countries including an entire section of Brits. I was to make some lasting friendships during our 3 years here and also take some incredibly scary school photos.

7th gradeI'm not sure if I didn't know it was school photo day and that's why I showed up with a faded too-small t-shirt and uncombed hair but this look only deteriorates further the next year so not much else to say about it. When I first met Becky, who would become my oldest, dearest friend, it was in Mr Davis' English class and I thought she was a childish weirdo and she thought I was a snob. But one day I saw that she was drawing a picture at her desk and our mutual interest in art and drawing brought us together in friendship. We called ourselves the Dreadful Duo and played silly games and wrote each other silly notes and drew reams and reams of pictures and comics, many of which I still have. At home in Belgium, our house was huge, and I had my own room for the first time in my life. My brother and sister made friends with the Flemish kids in the neighborhood and my brother even learned Flemish. I loved Belgium and The Netherlands with their trees in rows and canals and Napoleon lemon balls and Tintin comic books.

Not so cute now, am I? *shudder* The best part is that shirt I'm wearing? It's a PYJAMA TOP. Don't ask me why I was wearing it to school, I have no idea. Becky and I had increased our circle to include several other friends. We were a gang, a club, and we even gave ourselves a name. The initials of the club were LLG but if I told you what it stood for, I'd have to kill you; it was A SECRET. I sang in the school choir but couldn't participate in any other activities outside of school hours since we lived so far away, and was quite envious of my friends who were all members of the amateur theater group. To compensate, my friends and I frequently had sleepover parties at each other's houses that lasted all weekend. Becky had pet chickens and I went with her and her Baptist family to church on Sunday mornings: I had to borrow a skirt to wear.

The year was 1978 and disco was king and feathering your hair a la Farrah Fawcett was all the rage, except I didn't have a clue, obviously, how to get the right effect and Barky, even in the beginning stages, didn't help matters much. The necklace I'm wearing is a big red apple with a hole and a little worm sticking out. This year, after 2 years of riding the bus an hour each way every day, I was old enough to stay all week in the Student Dormitory just blocks from the school, which was a very eye-opening experience. Being a dormie was fun, though, a special privilege, and it helped a lot when it came time for college later. Halfway through the year, Becky moved back to the States and I felt a bit like a lost soul for the second half of 9th grade. I was glad when it was time to move: to Germany!

Previously: Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary. Next Up: High School