Two months today since we set out to the airport with our carefully packed, heavy laden suitcases and anxious anticipation of what would await us on the other side. Thinking back to the moment of arriving at the airport in Zurich, greeted so warmly by all our family here, feels like a lifetime ago. In so many ways our expectations have been so far exceeded; in other ways our expectations were misguided. Overall this experience has been worth every minute, the good, the bad, the perplexing and the frizzy hair.
A few things I now know for sure:
We are stronger than I realized and this was harder than I expected. While the moments of wonder and awe have far outnumbered the tough moments, those tough ones will stay with me forever. And yet having moved beyond them has been awe inspiring in and of itself. To see the resiliency our kids possess has been worth it. Seeing them standing on solid footing once again, even though our feet are still planted in unfamiliar soil gives me the ability to exhale. To know that they really are ok. At the end of the day we often like to share the funny moments when our day went sideways. The fact that my kids have the ability to ride a big city bus alone, accidentally get off at the wrong stop, figure out how to still arrive at their destination and laugh about it shows the kind of character I hope for them. That we can always laugh at ourselves even in the midst of challenge and uncertainty.
I also know that while living in a city has been amazing and is something I could get used to, at every moment possible I find myself headed to the woods. For me, there will always be something grounding about being in nature and I am so thankful that our new home offers encounters with nature in abundance.
The Wanderweg sign has become a bit of a metaphor for me. I find it funny, albeit highly frustrating at times, the frequency of the Wanderweg signs when out exploring. It feels like an absurdity to have a sign tell you that you are on a trail when that fact was never in question. At the junction of two trails the signs merely confirm, that yes, this is a trail. What they fail to tell you is where the trail is going which is quite often the vital information you’re seeking. But it has recently struck me that life is kind of like that. It is certain that we are on a path called life. There will often be crossroads or junctions where choices are made. The end point is never a certainty. What is certain is that you will carry on, along the path, whichever one it was that you chose. Discovering where it leads you is the joy of the journey.
2 months is enough time to kill an orchid…6 weeks actually. While there have been many victories while here, caring for an exquisite flower is not one of them. It troubles me to have failed at this but all the care and attention I could muster has been reserved for my family. I think we actually gave it a little too much care and attention and we need to learn that some things are most happy & beautiful when left alone. (Hmmmm, perhaps this is a good lesson for the kids…sometimes this is the key for how to help Mom feel most happy & beautiful.) Not ready to give up on this entirely so I may give it another go.
And lastly, even in Switzerland, things can go wrong. This week has revealed to us that even within the well oiled machine that is Switzerland, sometimes there is a breakdown in the order of things. It started on Monday morning, a rainy, cool day. We set out to the bus stop in anticipation of the arrival of our bus at the precise moment it is scheduled to arrive. (7:38) Well, that moment came and went with no bus. Odd…”Surely it will be here at any moment” we thought. But it didn’t! 16 minutes passed with no bus. In a world where watches can be set by the punctuality of the busses and trains and the frequency of busses averages every 7 minutes or less, 16 minutes is an ETERNITY! The weirdest part of all though was that no one at the stop looked anxious, perplexed or flustered by this. Everyone just maintained their stalwart gaze of nonchalance, certain the bus would come.
The laundry system also had a breakdown this week. One of my twice monthly days to wash laundry was today. Given their infrequency, you can imagine how highly anticipated these days are. I planned the whole week around this day being at home so that I could muscle through the many loads. Eager to maximize my time I took the first load down before heading to the bus stop with the kids. To my dismay, someone else was occupying the laundry with evidence of multiple loads still to be done but not a soul in sight. “But this is my day!” “The schedule says so…right here!” I screamed, inside my head. So I went back upstairs and figured that by the time I was back from getting the kids to school, they’d have probably freed up the machine so that I could begin. But no! Once back, there had been no change to the status of the laundry room. I was faced with my first official neighbourly conflict with no idea about the rules for navigating such a challenge. It’s riveting stuff, isn’t it!? I resorted to a carefully worded note, with the help of Google Translate in hopes that I could communicate the perfect balance of urgency and neighbourly friendliness. It worked and I was eye-ball deep in loads of laundry by mid morning.
And so the rhythm of my days is slowly establishing itself. All in all it is a pleasant rhythm where the highlight of my day is when we’re all reunited back at home sharing our tales of missed bus stops, laundry room drama and successful attempts to communicate in German. We’re getting there, bit by bit, and life is starting to feel normal again.