My host club invited me to join them to go to Liège to watch an Italian opera. I have never seen an Italian opera before and I didn't want to watch it without bringing my first host mom. Christine explained to me that she is not the shy type, but she prefers not to be among a group of strangers. She invited her mom for reassurance. My counselor didn't mind and he said I could bring as many family members as I would like. As for me, I was over joyed to have two of my favorite host family members accompany me.
Before the opera, I walked to Christine's house from school to get prepared. It had been many months since I lived with the Drougets. Walking though the door, I had the impression that I never left. Lady, the short orange haired dog, greeted me with a kind nudge. I felt at home as I looked at all the familiar furniture and appliances laying about. Louisa showed me the pond that Pascal cleaned out. To my surprise, Louisa placed her finger on the surface of the water and waited. One of the crois fish came to the surface and attempted to eat her finger! It amused us and I managed to pet the fish. Croix fish are one of the most audacious sea creatures I have met. The time came for us to leave and Christine drove her mom and I to Liège.
During the car ride, I received a message from my friend Nickola saying she was cancelling her plane ticket for Ireland. We planned to go to Ireland together for a week during the summer until she decided to back out. Instandly, my stomach churned and I felt discontent. Not only was I about to loose 1/3 of my money for a reimbursement, but I also felt miserable that Nickola told me the bad news from her cell phone. It upsets me when people use technology or other people to give bad news. She seemed nonchalant in her messages and simply said she didn't want to go anymore. Not knowing what to say, I didn't respond.
Christine parked the car and I tried to hide my discomfort. Pierre, my counselor, greeted us when we entered the huge white tent. He welcomed us to eat mini sandwiches with him and other strangers. Many of the Rotary men from my club were present and it took a half an hour for me to walk around to greet them all involving many bisous and small discussions. I was handed a glass of champaign and I quickly placed it on a table as discreetly as possible. Many people in Belgium enjoy alcoholic drinks (it's apart of the culture); I am not one of them. We walked over to our seats and Nickola sent me another message asking if I got her message. I excused myself and went into the bathroom to respond. It was impossible to stop her from canceling the trip and I told her that I understood.
I tried to re-enter the opera, but I was stopped by the personnel. The guards told me I would sit on the corner seat in the back row until the break since the act already started. Even when I tried to explain to them that my host mom would get worried, they wouldn't listen. The rules are set in place to avoid interrupting other people. Feeling like everything was spinning out of my control, I sat in my seat and cried silently in the darkened room. With the fallout with Nickola and my banishment to the corner, I was feeling depressed. After a few minutes, I watched as my first host mom began to notice my absence and look around. She stood up and started walking toward the exit. Automatically, I stood up and rushed toward her. It would be better to rejoin her in our seats then have her be forced to join me in the back.
Sometimes it's better to just forget about all the worries in the world and just enjoy the moment as it presented itself, and that was what I did. The performers sang in Italian which is a language I appreciate and admire greatly. It was easy enough to guess what was happening from their behaviors, emotions, and roles. The costumes and atmosphere were beautiful and the music was enchanting. Like in most operas, the lover died in the end and I cried again because it was extremely sad.
The curtain fell signaling the end and everyone applauded. The performers came back on stage to accept our cheers. After five minutes, people started to sneak out of the tent. The singers and actors on stage wouldn't stop bowing and my hands started to hurt. Clapping for a long period of time made me think about how the unspoken tradition of slapping our hands together expressed our courtesy and satisfaction for any event came to be. Christine signaled for me to go and we also hurried out the exit.
The Italian opera that my Rotary invited me to was spent charmingly with my host family members and aged Rotary men. The situation with Nickola wounded me emotionally and being forced to sit alone during the opera didn't improve my negative attitude. When I rejoined my host family and finally paid attention to the singing performers, I started to enjoy myself and absorb the story. I managed to cry one more time when one of the main characters died. That night was an event very emotional and enlightening.