A Friday in Leuven

The 29th of October of 2021

Early Leives morning, fire on my mind

Wake up! You are tired, but it does not matter, a loud alarm is sounding in the hall. It is 3 am, but you are not dreaming, this is not an alcoholic hallucination. Walk swiftly and barefooted to the door, look at those kids that are photographing themselves dancing to the rhythm of the alarm.

—Put on your shoes, and run out of the building! It is the fire alarm!

You are not dreaming, this is not an alcoholic hallucination.

Take a coat, get out of your bedroom. The kids are gone, you are too new here, and you do not know how to exit the place without using the elevator; but do not feel panic, follow the green signs, and may God be with you.

Browse the labyrinthine halls of this student residence, observe how enormous it is, it is all so new for you, enjoy these magical first impressions, with the deafening loudness of an alarm that tells you that your life and your hearing are in danger.

The sky is dark, no moon, no stars, but at least there is air, that with its powerful coldness tells you that you just saved yourself from being burnt alive.

—It is the third time it sounds this semester. Last time they made us wait for one hour outside.

—One hour! We cannot be out here like this for so long, we are going to get sick!

You feel the freezing wind hurting your throat, but you distract yourself from the pain by observing who are the last ones to evacuate this male only residence: 3 boys, accompanied by 3 female guests that were «visiting» them all night long.

20 minutes pass, someone shouts something in Dutch and everyone starts to come back inside. You did not understand what he said, but eventually someone explains to you: all cleared, no fire happened. Yet you think it is a lie, as you lie on your bed, alone, cold, without even a blanket, wishing you, like your lucky neighbours, blazed with the flames of some female «guest», but you have nothing but the broken pieces of your heart to comfort you tonight.

Daytime, wet train, love bus

Wake up! You are tired, but it does not matter, you have so much to do, ignore the strong after effects of alcohol, you had to drink yesternight, you had an important meeting, with someone important,,, even though you forgot her name, you remember her beautiful curly blonde hair.

Dream about her, loose yourself in those golden loops of glory…

Wake up! You are tired, but it does not matter, you have so much to do, and you lost 4 hours already dreaming about that unattainable aurum. You cannot afford passing another night sleeping without your things, without your blankets, without your clothes, you are already feeling sick, you must retrieve them from Aarschot.

Walk in the rain, ignore that wetness, ride swiftly the bus to Aarschot, before it be too late.

Pack quickly as much as you can. Leave the dirty clothes behind, bring only what you can actually use now.

Look at your guitar, that beautiful instrument that you found one day in the garbage and with love restored. Feel the temptation of bringing it, pretend that you do not have enough to carry already, fall into the temptation, you like her so much, you need her so much, your heart is broken and she is the only one wanting to sing to console you, you would not abandon her, would you? You know how that feels, you could not do the same to someone else, could you?

Drag that heavy baggage and carry that weighty hardcase, all the way back to Leuven, feel you are unlucky for not being able to afford nothing but jumping into the train, without a ticket, praying to not getting the inspector passing by.

Look at that man on a wheelchair, he has only one leg, realize you are not so unlucky after all. A strong reminder: life is now, one day you will be too sick or too dead to do things, you must live now. That is why you are tired, but it does not matter.

Music makes your hefty, overloaded, trip much more interesting.

«Would you believe me when I tell you
»you’re the king of my dreams!».

A cute girl on the bus, talking with a guy that is hugging her tightly, cannot stop staring at you, with her ocean blue eyes. Stare back, ogle her, just to see how much she can resist.

«Can’t you hear my love buzz?».

Carrying that baggage is painful, specially over the stairs. You are tired, but it does not matter. Today is Friday, you cannot waste your chance to go to the café Pangaea. It is a lottery of fun whose big prize you have sometimes won, and you love wagering.

Evening, glimpses of a world you cannot understand

The café Pangaea is dark and not as friendly as usual, odds are against you, you may not win a lot of fun, but, God knows, you did not walk all the way here to not gamble a little!

For the second time this month, there is a karaoke happening. For the second time this month, the quite stressed and unfriendly person managing the karaoke does not let you sing. Silly boring songs are being played. Oh! You could be sillier than that! If only they let you!

A gorgeous lady, disguised as a chessboard, treats you with a dark strong beer…

Guinness tastes like coffee, its strong flavour makes you feel awake.

But you like darkness only in drinks, you cannot stand anymore the obscurity of the place. Go outside, at least there are street lamps there, the closest thing to stars in this hopeless moonless starless world of today.

Almost everyone is disguised, except you, or that is what you think, until you hear a man telling you «you study philosophy, don’t you? I guessed it for the way you look, and the way you drink».

Westmalle feels like glory, but its spirituous taste makes you feel sleepy afterwards, just like an orgasm.

You are tired, but it does not matter. Boys and girls are talking with you. Ask them about the depths of their spirits. Ask because else you get bored and fatigued, shallow talking is unbearable being so exhausted already.

Listen to her words:

—Actually I know you since 4 years ago. We never hung out, but I have been hearing plenty of things about you.

Was it good what she heard? Was it bad? No further clarification is given, but you suspect that it must have been peculiar, for the strange way she laughs at every comment you make as you talk with others.

Ignore the invitations to bask in vice at the Oude Markt. Remember that you can always go there alone anyway later. Remember that in such degenerated land the friend groups are actually irrelevant, everything will be too noisy, too dark, too alcoholic, to actually socialise decently.

2 girls ask about the «Halloween» karaoke party at the café Pangaea. They are freshly arrived from Ethiopia, the land of the opals.

—It is so sad that we missed it! It was the first time we were going to witness an authentic Halloween celebration!

Their words show their innocence. Warn them, tell them the truth, break their hearts before the others do, at least you know how to do it kindly, you are an expert in having your own heart broken. Go ahead and tell them that all these «parties» are not as deep and as sweet as they may believe, tell them that they are just covents of dipsomaniacs.

A friend insists on you coming to the Oude Markt. Accept, you live beside it now anyway. You are tired, but it does not matter, Pangaea was not stimulating enough.

Midnight, at the rodent’s den: bunnies and rats

You arrive to the Oude Markt but you cannot find the friend. Wander around for a while, observe with disgust the parade of lustful carousers, criticise them, lie to yourself, pretend that you have not just become one of them.

«And if you go chasing rabbits».

Look at those 2 tempting girls, so pretty, so blonde, and so alone…

«And you know you’re going to fall».

Talk to them! You know you want to… No, you do not actually know, but you are doing it already.

«Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
»has given you the call».

Look at that silly envious 18 years old boy, he could not stand the jealousy you produced by stealing the girls’ attention, he had to jump in to «scare you away». So immature he is, he tries to intimidate you, he tries to impress the girls by acting cocky and aggressive with you.

«When the men on the chessboard
»get up and tell you where to go».

Do not resist that laughter, go ahead, laugh in his pretty boy face, he is so ridiculous.

«And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
»and your mind is moving low».

The alcohol in your veins, and the tiredness of an overloaded day blurry your criterion. You are tired, but it does not matter, nothing really matters.

«When logic and proportion
»have fallen sloppy dead».

«I am lesbian», the most beauteous one says suddenly, and starts to kiss the other girl. «I care not», you whisper, as you enjoy that spontaneous erotic show, as you get delighted looking at how they massage each other’s lips, while they hug and grind their bodies, and caress their backs and buttocks passionately.

«And the White Knight is talking backwards».

But the stupid pretty boy is not happy with you yet, he feels humiliated by your indifference towards him, by how neither his growling nor his gorillesque chest beating worked to intimidate you.

«And the Red Queen’s off with her head».

He calls his friends, 5 other beardless men threaten to attack you physically, as a punishment, for the horrible crime of mocking their immaturity.

«Remember what the dormouse said:
»Feed your head».

Wake up! Stop looking at the girls! Look at the boys! They are too many! Retire! The best war is the one that is not fought.

Walk away elegantly. You are not the violent horny wild animal there.

Feel that bad mouth taste that cannot be rinsed away so easy. Wander around that rat’s liar, try to find something sweet, or at least pure, to cleanse that horrible flavour.

—Hey! Come sit with us! What a coincidence to find you again, for the third day in a row!

They are some new philosophy students you met yesternight, or 2 nights ago, or at some point this week… Accept their invitation for a beer, they seem pure still, and perhaps that beer could rinse away that bad mouth taste those kids left you.

—I thought I would not find you around here, you always criticize it, as you always talk about loving love… Or are you here looking for love?

Stella Artois tastes like anything but a star, you have tasted the lips of a star, you know the flavour of plasma; Stella Artois’ flavour is more soapy than heavenly, but that is what you need now, soap.

Tell the truth, tell what you think.

—This place is not made for finding love. You come here to turn your blood into red alcohol, and to pretend to «flirt» with other ethylic spectres. But that is not love, that is not friendship, that is just the entertainment of the kids of this decadent capitalism, that do not know better, that have no idea of what else to do to please their spirits.

—Then what are you doing here?

—I do not know. I am lost.

Oh, for sure you are lost! You are drunk and your criterion blurred by that ethylic blood of yours.

Tell them the story of the violence threat you just had. Tell them how beautiful those chicks were, how they kissed passionately. Tell them how you elegantly dispatched the intruder until he had to invoke a whole army to eliminate you. Admire their disbelief, they are confused, they know about your broken heart, they do not see you as daring and crazy as to actually do all that, they do not understand your complicated spirit, and you neither.

Feel that blend of Guinness, Westmalle and Stella Artois inciting your audacity. Feel how they wash away the remaining fragments of your broken heart.

A woman passes by, taller than you, moving sublimely her long legs as she walks, swaying delightfully her voluptuous body, provoking the kind of thoughts you have been looking for tonight, those you want and have when you are tired, but it does not matter, when you continue living, having left behind any sense of prudence.

They challenge you to talk to her, not because they be confused and curious about the strange behaviour of a brokenhearted man, but because they are shy themselves, they still do not believe that you are actually attempting what feels impossible for them. But they ignore that frustration is much more painful than rejection; they do not know that temerity is much more stimulating than the alcohol of the 4 beers they had before you arrived.

Walk towards her. Walk faster, or you will miss her.

Look at those cerulean eyes, they ogle you for a second, and then look away. She is from Antwerp, and she is prettier than the previous girls.

—You just thought I was an easy target, didn’t you?

—No, I simply thought you were very beautiful.

—Oh please! I have heard that so many times.

She is sarcastic, but she keeps talking with you anyway, for many minutes. Until she eventually says «I have a boyfriend», while she gets closer to you, making her skin touch yours, «accidentally». Feel the confusion of her contradictory actions and words. Dare, say something reckless, you did not come all this way to surrender for such small obstacle:

—Yes you have, but he is not here tonight, is he?

Enjoy that mischievous blushing smile of hers you just provoked on her cute little face.

—He will come tomorrow morning.

—Then we have time.

—Ha ha ha! Keep looking, don’t worry, there are plenty of girls like me around here.

She says goodbye, hugging you vigorously for many seconds, while you gift her with a few kisses on her cheek and her hair.

Your philosophical friends disappeared, your talking with the Antwerpian lady was not as interesting to watch as the sapphic making out you witnessed before.

Wander around the streets for a while, you are tired, but it does not matter, the sharp fleeting sensations of elation she incited have woken you up again.

Look at that friend that insisted on you coming here, he is also walking around, but with some other guys, he is not a lonely wolf chasing bunnies, as you are. Excitement is too intense in you, you must tell him what happened, the girls making out in your eyes, the envious savage boys fighting you, the boyfriended girl that hugged you sweetly still… «Beware!», he exclaims, as he pinpoints at one of his companions, «a couple of years ago they dragged him to a dark alley and beat him badly», he warns you.

The alluded companion looks at you, you try to greet him gladly, as he is your friend too, or that is what you thought until now.

—Do not talk to me! You have fallen in disgrace for me. You lost my sympathy forever, and you know exactly the reason why.

Your only friend tries desperately to keep peace in the group, he tells them he will walk you home, and says goodbye.

You are still shocked by observing how short are becoming your moments of euphoria, how now only a couple of minutes were enough for someone to see you glad and drop a new bomb at you to remedy that.

—He thinks that you are an abusive, selfish, miserly, perfidious,,, person. He thinks you take and never give, you never want to suffer, you never sacrifice.

He is the one who has told people that you will become an homeless indigent soon, sleeping on sidewalks and fishing food from trash bins.

—He believes all these bad things about you. But I told him to be patient, that he does not know you well enough, that he has not had the chance to see you in your best moments.

People gossip, people criticise, people get angry when you do not obey. You hardly understand yourself, and yet they think they know better than you. Wish it were different, make as many wishes as you want, see how nothing passes, magic happens seldomly, and it is often just a lie. Yet, feel free, you are trapped in Leuven, but it was your choice; you are trapped in this world, that was not your choice, but at least you are not being a submissive obedient boy, you are not following the instructed path of life. Chapeau!

After such stimulating day you wished you had a certain female «visitor» to kindle another fire in the edifice and ignite the alarm again.

Your clothing and your blankets are still in the suitcase, you are tired, and that matters, a lot, you have no energy to make your bed. Leave them there, and lie naked on your bare bed.

After such stimulating day, you, being so alone, at least would normally let yourself demonstrate how much you love yourself, and caress and touch yourself intensely invoking in your mind those kisses, those hugs, those sights,,, until you exploded ecstatically and fell asleep instantly —the sweetest transition from awakeness to dreaming—. But you cannot tonight, you are tired, but it is not that what matters, it is not that what stops you from living that pleasure, it is the dissappointment from everything, from the world, that was not sufficiently stimulating today to satisfy you, that has not been loving enough lately. Again, you have nothing but the broken pieces of your heart to comfort you tonight.

Sweet dreams, vagabond lonely wolfie. In your dreams you are never tired, in your dreams you are always yourself, but the world is never itself. Do not be bittersweet, leave the bitterness out there, let only sweetness be the «visitor» in your soul. Tomorrow things will change, no day is equal to any other day.

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