I had a few other adventures in Paris, like buying cheap wine and going to see the Eiffel Tower lit at night with a group of fellow hostelers. It started to rain, and we were all so poorly dressed and drinking from the bottle, passing it around, I felt like an Impressionist. We also missed the train back and walked the entire Champs-Elysees at four in the morning. That was a trip.
But enough of Paris. I was off to Switzerland to visit my sister, who was visiting her (Swiss) boyfriend. I took a train across France to Basel, and a smaller train to the small hamlet where his parents live. I kept asking everyone at the station, “Parlez-vous ingles?” to which I would receive a bemused “Yes…” This is in the Swiss-German part of Switzerland. I also had to convert some of my money to Swiss francs.
I kept fearing I would miss my stop. I couldn’t understand anything they said on the intercom, I couldn’t read any of the signs, and being away from the tourist area, nothing was in English. At the platform in Sissach, I sat on a bench a waited for my sister Anna to pick me up. I was a bit sad that she wasn’t there waiting for me. I’d wanted to do the hopping-off-the-train,-running-into-a-hug bit from the movies. But I waited and looked around. This was a very small town. One train platform going one direction, another going the other way. Open air. Cheerful sunny air. Green green grass. Mountains just beyond. Plain lovely. Quaint.
“Hi!” I said, still holding her in a vice grip.
“Hi!” she said.
Then we looked at each other, beaming, and hugged again, laughing. I love my sister, plain and simple.
Her boyfriend, Danny, drove us back to his parent’s house where they were staying alone. Anna had made for dinner a spicy cheese vegetable casserole that our mom used to make. Just for me.
She told me later that the first thing she noticed about me when she saw me on the platform was how much more centered I seemed, less uprooted, more grounded. At home, before this trip, I’d been like a drowning person. Grasping, flailing, desperate, hopeless. Now, she said, I seemed whole, centered, at peace. I couldn’t wait for all the possibilities of being whole, all the things I would accomplish and be excited about again.
I slept like a rock that night. Completely exhausted, completely content, happy to be with family again, comfortable in my own room, and the cat took a liking to me and cuddled for a bit, too. Bliss.