crazy times

29 Jul

The Schwarzwald ... place of incredible fairy tales, and a few scary stories, I have no doubt!

well, raphi and i have just returned from a really nice moroccan dinner – somehow in between talking for a few hours we managed to stuff ourselves silly, i really have no idea how it is possible to stuff oneself so much for food! But i think when you’re having such good conversation, it’s natural …

Today my parents and I arrived in Zurich after spending the weekend in Bärental, a small village in the Black Forest in Germany. We were in Bärental for my great uncle Norbert’s 90th birthday, an event which for the first time saw almost all of the Swiss, German and South African families under one roof.

It was a wonderful occasion, if a bit bewildering as there were so many people there and so many things to catch up on that i could hardly take it all in. It was great to see everyone and to spend time together, remembering how strong family can be despite the great distances …

Norbert and partner Heidi with Caleb and my mom

Being back in Bärental brought back some really strong memories of my time there five years ago,  just after I finished high school. Then it was winter, the forest covered with snow and with an immense, heavy silence that absolutely scared the wits out of you if you weren’t used to it. It was a scary but exciting time – exciting because I had the chance to be alone, to learn new things and to meet new people. Scary for exactly the same reasons. Despite this, thoughts of loneliness and homesickness accompanied me everywhere.

Annika, Roman, Lillian

Now it’s five years later and I find myself walking through the forest with my cousin Sonja, and Lillian’s new baby Annika. The same quiet pervades in the forest. You can stand in the middle of the pine trees and feel as though you are at the centre of the universe, and no where all at once. You can feel so lost, yet so at peace with being lost. It’s still disconcerting. Again I find myself standing amongst the trees, trying to prepare myself for another journey, and terrified at being lonely again. But not so scared this time. More distracted, and unable to spend much time on feeling sorry for myself or the fear. And maybe not as worried!

I have about a million things on my mind at the moment, but the most important thing for me right now is to try and focus, and keep my mind off the thoughts that I know will keep me down … the fear about being away from family, the sadness of what’s happened in the last few weeks, the intense worry about how the next year will go (and all that freaking money!) The pity about Switzerland is that everything is so perfect and beautiful, that you have nothing to worry about, and because you have very little to worry about most of the time, you think about the things you’d rather avoid, which is a great thing for some, and a terrible thing for others.

The Zurich Lake used by most of the youth to sunbathe, drink and swim in hot afternoons ... It has a very strong downward current that you can float on, which serves as quite a trip ...

In order to avoid these thoughts, which I know can often be self-destructive when there is no-one to bounce them off, I will spend my time having in-depth conversations with family, suffering the sweltering heat of Swiss trains, eating too much Würst, drinking too much Wisswein, and trying to pretend that inside, I am not changing completely.

This is what Switzerland does to you, gel?

The Zurich Lake used by most of the youth to sunbathe, drink and swim in hot afternoons … It has a very strong downward current that you can float on, which serves as quite a trip …
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