My last name, as you may or may not know, is “VandenBerghe”. It’s dutch – translates to “from the mountain” (or “of the mount”, or something).

Or, at least, it would, if it was spelled correctly. Which it isn’t. But that’s another story.

Technically, though, it’s not dutch. It’s Belgian.

I spent a good chunk of my formative years hearing about the storied history of the VandenBerghe side of my family tree. There was a lot of drama there to be had in the tale, but the net result was to leave my brother and I with the general impression that, even though our family had left Belgium three generations ago, that we were still from there. There was always lots of evidence to be found to support this thesis: all the family I knew from my dad’s side sported huge honking schnozes, small (but kind) eyes, no chin whatsoever, a propensity for belly growth, and a general “round-face”-edness that gave an overall sense of “nice guy” to our stature.

And, when we looked at a travel brochures for Belgium, we would see these same features staring back at us.

So, when we came to Paris (to live, woah), we reconnected with “the old family” here. Which was amazing.

But we haven’t been to Belgium yet.

Fast-forward to: NOW!

/fast-forwards to now

The Red Steel 2 press tour through Europe just happens to have a stop in Brussels. Which is in Belgium. In a really big way.

Brussels airport So, just a few hours ago, my plane from London landed in the Brussels airport, and I stepped onto Belgian soil for the first time in my life.

What’s weird is that this didn’t really hit me until I handed my passport to the dude behind the customs desk. He asked me the normal questions, and then perked up: “You’ve got a dutch name!” he said, and smiled. I nodded enthusiastically and explained the situation in brief, and walked away…

…with chills running down my spine. Baggage claim station #8 will remain imprinted into my memory as the place I realized I had completed the pilgrimage. I was home, in some long-lost way. The feeling was unique, and now I’m sitting here in my hotel room typing these words, and I want nothing more than to run out into the street and find someone to talk to about it. “I’m from here!” I want to tell them: “I recognize this place! I recognize you!” Because, all around me, I see huge schnozes, small (but gentle) eyes, round features…