Life beats on in Mons with hardly a second to reflect. The daily routine, though familiar and occasionally comforting, demands constant movement: I wake up to the early misty mornings, arrive at the bus stop at exactly the same time every day, see the barbed wire fences come into view atop the hill heading out of Mons, pass through security, and recite the daily catechism, "Bonjour. Merci. Bonne Journee." Another day has begun. Then there's coffee from a machine, a warm croissant, and a short walk from the cafeteria, past the bunker, to the office. Indeed, the routine is comforting because it creates its own customs, making life in a foreign place manageable and familiar. But the routine also robs me of the seemingly endless hours I once had to read and think and ponder and write.
There is an interesting world to be discovered at the workplace, no doubt. There are soldiers of varying ranks, a cadre of interns, and contractors from everywhere you can imagine. Stand in the copy room long enough and you'll meet everyone from janitors to generals, each with his (most likely not her) own pleasantries to exchange. Working in an international office is nice for all the reasons people usually say it is, and yet I miss the life of the mind that seems to be missing.
Writing this post right now is a luxury as there are groceries to be bought and papers to be organized and cleaning to be done. There is also sleep to be had. If there's anything I'm learning right now aside from managing people, assignments, and expectations, it's that I need to be patient with myself. Life beats on in Mons and I'm doing my best to balance everything while finding my way.