Since I moved to Portugal I actually got a lot closer with a lot of my friends in Belgium. With one of them we decided to open a What’s App conversation with only music. We both love old school hip hop ( Mos Def, Wu Tang, …), groovy tunes, well directed music clips and so on. Sometimes we don’t send anything for weeks until one of us receives a message in the early morning (me) or in the middle of the night (him).

Thanks to him I got to know seventies funk from Ghana, Solange and rediscovered A Tribe Called Quest. I sent him music from Bishop Briggs, Natiruts and the video clip of Makeba from a singer called Jain and Go Up from Cassius ft. Cat Power. Whenever I heard something for the first time and it was ‘good enough for our standards’ I sent it too him.

Almost one year later this ‘private’ music channel evolved to a satirical platform where we joke with the goofy decisions politicians make, alternated with sunset & nature pictures (me) and swaggy breakfast & children pictures (him). I love it. This channel keeps us grounded.

Relax!

But today we phoned each other for the first time. He is in the end stage of building his house and dead tired. “We are dreamers,” he says (we sometimes talk in ‘we-form’ to each other even when we talk about our own life), “And at this point it’s so fucking hard now to keep a sense of judgement. We have some Polish people working in the house. We decided to let them handle the final 20 percent. They are better in it. But we feel bad about it.”

“Western people always feel guilty when they are not productive.”

“I could be happy with a lot less and now some Polish people are constructing my house.  With the money we are outsourcing now we could help a lot of Ethiopian people.”

“Don’t compare us with Ethiopians.”

“I know, I know but still, what the hell am I doing? You have to know that I am quite neurotic about a lot of things. I want this house to be perfect from the day we move in you know?”

“You are doing a lot. You are raising two beautiful daughters, you are working hard to make sure your family is okay and you are building a house for god’s sake.”

“We could be happy with a lot less, Sophie.”

“But still, compared to a lot of people in the world… Our neighbours are Czech and I want to involve them in my life you know, gave them a tour in our house, but they probably think I am showing off with my house.”

“Just be your spontaneous self and they will understand.”

“It’s like having five men in a café and one of them is really rich so he buys everybody a drink. Just as the day before, but that’s not how it works. People expecting you to pay because you are the ‘rich’ guy?”

“Not at all. It’s not up to you to save the world. What the Polish guys need is our respect. And a beer once in a while. Be helpful for your neighbours. Just be you. Honest.”

“I know, I know… We are dreamers Sophie. We have some things in common ya know.”

“Yes, I know. Look. The best thing you can do is to inspire your kids, make them critical thinkers in a world gone mad, be nice  to your family, friends & neighbours. When your street is a cool place to live, the neighbourhood will get better from it, the city will be better from it,.. and so on.”

“Yes, but you know. Delphine and Eneko are doing it.”

“Doing what?”

“He is a Bask and she is from Ghent and they are actually trying to live with less things. Sharing cars, tools, not consuming like hell… And their kids, man, those kids are so happy with simple things. I think they wrote a book about it.”

“So that is what I mean, try to be inspiring just like they inspire you. Fuck Ethiopia! My grandmother always says that in order to have a clean street, we need to sweep in front of our own house.”

“I am not sure if I can do that. It’s kinda hard to escape this thing called the rat race.”

“Tss, why do you think we moved to Portugal?  Here we don’t consume to keep up with the rest, take time to cook healthy. Here it’s about us again. In Belgium that’s not easy. You are tired. Start with some simple goals when you’re relaxed again. No television and laptop during evenings. It’s an evolution.”

“That picture you sent… You were listening to old records for two hours in the middle of the day yesterday?”

“Yes, haha! I discovered a cool street with old shops for tools, second hand shops for clothes… Shitty stuff my grandma wouldn’t even wear but discovered also this vinyl shop where they sell tea cups and plates as well.”

“(Laughing) You lazy bitch. I am working my ass off here and you keep on sending me your Dude-look-at-my-perfect-life-pictures!”

“(sarcastic) It’s a choice dude. It’s called taking-a-step-away-from-the-rat-race-and-be happy-with-what-you-do-choice.”

“Your husband is the one who is really productive.”

“He is cool. But I am working too. Just re-edited my book and sent it to some editors again.”

“It’s not a book because editors don’t publish it, so according to me & society you’re still a lazy bitch.”

“ Haha, true. And fuck that. I know my ‘book’ is good. It’ll find its way sooner or later.”

 

“I know…We are dreamers, Sophie.”

“I know. I like these conversations.”

“Me too. Okey, I have to go. My youngest one just climbed on top of a spider web.”

“Huh?”

“Those things with ropes on playgrounds to climb in..”

“Haha, she has that from y…”

Tuut-tuut-tuut

 

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