Discovering and photographing the unknown beauty of Europe
In the beginning of July 1988, I passed the exams of my first year at university. It had been a difficult year, but I made it! The first thing I did once I got my results was to call my parents. I got my mother on the telephone, and first she was a bit confused, but afterwards when the news sank in, she was overjoyed.
About an hour later, when I came back home, I was surprised when I saw all our neighbors in the street. At first, I thought an accident had happened. But when they saw me coming and they all applauded and cheered, I knew it was for me. You see, as soon as I had finished my telephone call with my mother, she had run outside and had told the good news to all the neighbors. She was proud of me that day. She was happy.
Of course, she was also happy when I graduated. And we celebrated that in style. But that day in 1988 is still more special. That first victory of my university studies. The warm welcome back home. When I was back in my bedroom and I turned on the radio, I heard Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. At that moment, I felt so happy that I started crying. Even today, when I hear the song, I get very emotional.
But there have been times that my mother and I were disconnected from each other. I was a very shy child, a moody teenager and now as an adult, I am very stubborn. I know what I want out of life and I have made choices that my mother didn’t like at all. We are talking boyfriends, jobs, hobbies, travel destinations, and so on. There have been arguments, fierce arguments and once or twice I even broke all contact with my parents.
Years have passed and we have silently reconciled. She has accepted my lack of ambition, my way of life and the fact that I don’t like cleaning. She has accepted that I resemble my grand-mother – a woman with whom she had a troubled relationship. The past is the past and we are determined to make the best of the present.
And I have to admit that we did have some good moments together. And that we do have things in common. I remember the Saturdays when we had meatballs in tomato sauce. The Sundays when my father experimented in the kitchen. The restaurants we visited whenever we had something to celebrate. The card games during which my father and I cheated, because you, Mom, were simply too clever. And the travels we made together, although the destinations you chose, were sometimes a bit too crowded for me.
I also know that my mother freaked out when my ex – boyfriend and I drove around in Utah and Arizona and a couple of other States. She worries every time The Viking and I drive to Denmark. And she declared me to be completely crazy when we drove all the way from Belgium to Ukraine.
She reacts that way because I know she loves me. And the feeling is mutual. Happy Birthday, Mom!