Wander, Wonder, Write

The Swiss

“Don’t you think it a strange coincidence, he says, that every man who’s skull’s been opened had a brain?”
—Rosmarie Waldrop

Yesterday, we were invited to a family dinner at the house of our friend’s kind neighbors. I was a tad nervous. We’d enjoyed two convivial dinners together back in October, so I knew I had nothing to fear, yet I usually feel timid before a social event: you never know what will happen, what jokes might fall flat or what odd silences might mound like a bill you’ll have to pay. 

Two large black dogs greeted us upon our arrival. They’d barked at us on occasion during the last couple of days, expecting our friend to be home and instead finding us, two displaced birds. But they were the sweetest creatures, ready to swear loyalty now that we belonged to the circle of trust. 

The place we currently call our home is part of a three-structure, six-apartment complex that the owner has cultivated like a commune: whenever an apartment becomes available, friends of friends are contacted first, and whoever fits in best with the group is welcomed to move in. Perhaps that bit of knowledge contributed to my nerves: We were representing our friend, and I wanted to make a favorable impression. 

Oh, if only I could rid myself of the what-other-people-think complex. Half of my worries would vanish like mist in the sun. 

Anyway, the evening was a success. Terrific hosts, engaging guests, succulent food, delicious wines. D and I talked about our upcoming travels and mined everyone’s memories for favorite destinations. We told them the story of how D and I met, a story so full of wonderful coincidences that it always sparks an interesting conversation about life. This time it let us from Jung to the fifth dimension to witchcraft. 

(I must have felt really at ease in the end, because I was somehow bold enough to invite myself to the Zollikon Equinox celebration—more about that after March 21, unless I’ll be sworn to secrecy, in which case you’ll need to guess whether I’m a true white witch or not.)

The Swiss we’ve met are hospitable, generous, educated, good-humored, curious, on the relativistic side, and healthily gourmand. Over the years, our good friend has introduced us to a slew of good people: family, friends, godparents, neighbors. 

So are all Swiss people nice? Well, I’m not going to burn my hands on generalizations. There must be plenty of unpleasant people around, but we haven’t run into them and aren’t seeking them out. No matter where we are, we can only ever meet individuals. And we’re lucky to have met some pretty great individuals so far.

Photo: My grandmother’s tea set. Our host had an identical set in his home.