A summer hiatus

Over a month has passed since my last post. Perhaps the longest break since beginning this journey. It wasn’t a planned break but rather a reflection of the pace of life lately and the company we have been keeping.

There is a certain pattern that has emerged in my journey with this blog. Creativity, for me, is borne out of loneliness. This last month has been the opposite of lonely and as such, my time to ponder and reflect has been cut short. Turns out this does not have the same effect on my capacity to humiliate myself or make questionable parenting decisions, so we aren’t lacking in content.

This time last month I was alone in Switzerland while Manolo and the kids had already begun their Canadian summer holiday. The novelty of the time on my own wore off quickly and I found myself longing for company again. Hosting good friends from Canada and planning a few social outings here helped to pass the time until it was my turn to board a trans-Atlantic flight.

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Hello UK, first leg in the journey home.
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Don’t mind if I do…
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Ahhhh, such a welcome site.

Two and a half weeks back home felt like a lifetime and a whirlwind all at once. It was a pursuit of all things nostalgic, from pastimes and  snacks to visits with family and friends. It was perfect.

Anyone living abroad knows how exciting the simple act of visiting a grocery store is in the place you once called home. The kids benefit greatly as my sensibility flies out the window when discovering amazing things like the new pop-rocks infused oreos! Such a snacking abomination would never make it onto a shelf in Switzerland so you had better believe that we were buying a pack. I regret not buying more.

Fireworks Oreos
If you buy these, hide them from your children. They don’t deserve them as much as you do.

If it contained high-fructose corn syrup, we likely ate it. Unnaturally coloured cheese products? Yup, we ate that too. Breakfast cereals shaped like little squares, covered in sugar? You bet! It was bliss.

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We found an old-school candy shop with candy from when we were kids. Not as delicious as I remember…the memories were just as sweet though.
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These were my favourite but I’m sure they used to be bigger.
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Nothing like North-American breakfast food. Not an ounce of nutrition in it.

Even when the universe tried to slow me down, I wasn’t deterred. Turns out that my ability to find humility in public situations is not a skill limited to Switzerland. This is a gift I can now claim on both sides of the Atlantic.

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It may have had something to do with the blasphemy I committed by purchasing this cheese while out of Switzerland. I’m an embarrassment to all who are Swiss but I’ll eat it straight from the package every time.

While on a grocery run on my own, in pursuit of all things nostalgic, I may have had a bit too much skip in my step. In a moment that was both sudden and slow motion, I fell down. In a grocery store.

“Woman down in dairy!!”

While carrying a jug of milk back to my cart, I stepped on an errant orange slice, causing my forward foot to slide, rather than plant, as is necessary in a smooth walking motion. (I’m retelling this with detail as I’m not sure if this will all be recalled during the court case.) In case you aren’t as familiar with the horror of wiping-out as an adult, let me tell you, when that front foot starts to go, there’s very little you can do to recover it. I should know, it’s happened more than once to me. Evidently, falling down for me is no longer a random act but has begun to occur with a disturbing frequency. So much so in fact that a dear friend was telling me that she fell down and immediately thought of me. Lovely.

In my advanced geriatric state we all know that a broken hip is an extreme risk. Thankfully it was only my pride that shattered in this case, made all the more worse by the man who witnessed my sprawl and immediately alerted ALL of the store personnel.

“Excuse me! Excuse me! This woman just fell down!! You need to do something. This woman just fell down!!”

Awesome. An audience, that’s exactly what I was hoping for.

I collected myself and my now leaking jug of milk (thank heavens it wasn’t my bladder) and attempted to muster enough dignity to continue my shopping.

Unfortunately, right on cue, my inappropriate laughing kicked in due to the humiliation of the event and so I began cackling to myself while texting Manolo to say “WTF. I just fell down at Superstore.”

The store personnel were keeping a close eye on me to asses how likely a lawsuit would be. The evil laughter I’m sure made them think it was an inside job, staged. I solidified that fear through multiple failed PIN attempts on my credit card at the till, nearly forcing me to abandon the entire load I had just sacrificed my pride in gathering.  I’m quite sure the store personnel concluded that my inability to pay was either proof that I was dirt poor and therefore needed the lawsuit or that I had sustained a head injury and would be certain to win said lawsuit.

(The failed PIN attempt has become a predictable certainty in my trips abroad – I have developed a mental paralysis which prevents me from remembering PINS in two different countries, freezing our accounts. This has happened enough times that I now plan a trip to the bank within the first few days to try to undo the damage. From experience, I know that awkward laughing in this setting results in a much lengthier identification verification process. I wouldn’t recommend it.)

While not dealing with banks or laying in spilled milk on a grocery store floor, we were reveling in the presence of our very dear friends and family. In that deep, heart warming interactions are still the missing piece of happiness here, this is what we most crave while back home. That, and fish tacos. The two go together incredibly well.

Helena’s new favourite way to pass some time.
I forgot how much I enjoy this view.
A good buddy knows how to pour a drink. Nice form Parker.
Men in black.
The girls, out for an afternoon chai latte.
Morning muesli by the river – perfection.
Who pays for expensive spa treatments when you can just lounge in the river for the little fish to nibble away your dead skin for free?
Best buddies at the river.
Perfect way to beat a hot day.
BBQs with buddies was our favourite way to spend an evening.
Meeting Mr. Mac was a highlight too.
A new Canadian art trend we noticed.
The days were toasty, not the cool Canada we were craving.
But the water was as fresh as we remembered.
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The blue sky was not as we remembered it. A comparison photo I found online showing the worst of the smoke filled skies while we were home.
These ladies! All caught up, like to time had passed at all. xoox
“I guess we didn’t need to order that last one.” The famous words always uttered by Rachel the morning after.
Canadian wildlife.
Besties at the mall. Trouble…
A perfect morning for a walk and a talk with an old friend.
One last swim to beat the heat.
These kids. The picture of happiness.
And these friends. The very best a gal could hope for. Wishing there wasn’t an ocean between us.

There really is nothing like spending time with those who know us the best. Where we don’t have to be on our best behaviour or think carefully about the words we choose. The sort of friends who would be right down on that grocery store floor with you, peeing their pants in hysterics, laughing at you.

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I think this officially defines us now. We have returned to the land of cheese and chocolate to continue our coddiwompling ways.

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