Paper and Stones

As I sit in a cafe in the central plaza of Brussels, I try to imagine what it was like in its peak, when all these gold laced buildings were utilized for their original purposes.
A connoisseur of empathy, I close my eyes. I use images I saw at a museum the other day to visualize being born as a daughter of a filthy rich Flemish couple. I tried to imagine waking up, opening the windows, and welcoming a town hall meeting upon my day, or watching as people come to pick up their biweekly loaf of bread. These diamond glossed women carried out their lives only 30 feet above the spot I’m sitting in now.
I am trying to seriously grasp the feeling that I, or anyone, could consider it truthful that they deserved to own that much gold.
I cannot fathom holding such an elite status.

I don’t really need to pull myself that far back in time to feel such disbelief though. Even today, I cannot imagine owning a Prada purse, or having someone slip a diamond ring the size of a rock onto my finger.
First of all, my parents friends used to hide their valuables when I came over. Not because they thought I would steal them, but because I would probably break them. Despite that, I cannot even imagine thinking I deserve anything supposedly worth so much.

I don’t even desire these material goods, but I know how exciting it is when you find red Dr. Marten boots at a Goodwill for only $25.
And as I sit here today in the heart of Brussels, I am glad; I am seated in front of yet another palace turned into a museum over time. Maybe one day, a girl thirty years younger than me, hunting for interview clothing at a women’s resource center, will find a pair of Gucci pants that I used to own.
— Sophie Rabb