Basel gets its share of tourists. Not too many, but we get them. They are easy to spot as they come blinking into the sunshine from the inside of the dark train station, checking maps, and looking around with puzzled expressions.
Usually I mind my own business. I keep my head down and go about my day as I see them scratch their heads while trying to figure out the tram system. I don’t want to be presumptive that they need help. There is nothing like having a stranger approach you and ask if you need help to make you feel utterly pathetic. But sometimes you have to step in and help.
Last week, I saw a group of people standing around the schedule for the #2 Tram – 3 women and 1 guy – who needed help. The guy’s accent made it obvious he was American and everyone in a 200-foot radius could hear him belligerently instructing his companions to go the absolutely wrong way on the absolutely wrong tram to get to Klein Basel. So I stepped in.
“Do you need some help?”
“I live here.”
And that’s when it hit me.
I live here. But not for long.
As the tourists went on their way, with the guy loudly proclaiming he was right the entire time, I started to tear up a bit. I do live here. And in 18 days I won’t anymore.
E had me put up a countdown calendar with Post-It Notes. Then H asked for one to countdown school days. I didn’t really want to, because I tend to stare at it and alternate between panic attacks that I have so much to do and sadness that this chapter of my life is coming to a close.
It’s like finishing a really great book. You don’t want it to end, but you have to get to that last page if you want to find out everything.
It makes me happy that I took the trouble to write everything down in this blog. I have my own history right here that I can re-live anytime I want. All the things I might forget are right here so that I won’t. With pictures.
I’ve been asked if I will edit this and publish it. I might. We’ll see. It might be cathartic.
But before I can get to that I need to move.
My nervous energy is beginning to overtake my sluggish unhappiness and I am forced to push that energy into action. The only action I can take is to purge the house of papers and debris and to make countless lists full of to-dos and make-sures.
I am constantly looking through my cupboards. I have enough alcohol in the house to ensure a drink with every meal from now until we leave in 18 days time. Actually 16 until the movers come. I look at all the staples we must eat before we move – couscous, pasta, honey, Nutella, pistachio nuts from Greece. I am fretting over my spices. You can’t just ship food back in your container. I have to fill out customs and shipping forms for my spices to have them legally brought into the US or I am breaking the law – illegally importing trade goods like some kind of international art smuggler. So I must decide if I want to ship my spices or give them away. This is particularly painful when I ponder my saffron and vanilla bean pods as they are two of the four items it is cheaper to buy here in Switzerland than in the US. (The other two are wine and really good cheese.)
Not that I have a house for all my smuggled spices to go. We still have no place to live in DC, but I feel like we’re close. It’s probably better for my real estate guy that I am not closer in location to him or I’d be calling 8 times a day. We’ve narrowed it down to 2 houses in the Bethesda area. Once Ingrid goes in and gives them the “sniff test” we’ll know which one we want. I find I am torn between what I think I want and what is easiest. Because in my life what has come to me easy has worked out great and what I push for usually blows up in my face. Give me strength.
But the push is on to get an address. We can’t really set up anything in DC until we have an address. Like phones and internet. We can’t even tell the movers where to ship our stuff! It will get put into this big container, loaded up on a ship, and then sailed across a couple of seas and an ocean before it ends up sittin’ on a dock of a bay, wasting time.
Mark, at least, now has a place to stay for his first week in DC. Our friend, Trish, has an AirBnB room which he has rented. This means Mark has the good fortune of being welcomed back to DC by one of the warmest people we know. The kids and I will be in Minnesota and then Iowa. We at least get a nice adjustment period and I get to relearn how to drive on quiet country roads. Mark is to be plunged directly back into the throng.
The boys are holding up well. They oscillate between being excited about the move and totally not wanting to go. The countdown calendar is supposed to help them mentally prepare. It gets them excited for the adventure and the possibilities; however, it can’t take away the fear and confusion. Poor H doesn’t even really remember Maryland or DC since he was just 5 when we left. And even E is now settled enough to where he doesn’t want leave majority of the time. He once tried to make a deal with us, saying he’d be willing to stay if we bought a TV and an X-Box. (Hello, Bargaining. I never thought we’d make it to you on the Wheel of Grief.)
My coping mechanism, Lord help me, is baking. I just, right now, paused from typing long enough to make chocolate chip cookies. Why? Because I looked in the cupboard on one of my purging surges and found I still had a partial bag of chocolate chips and some brown sugar I’d squirreled away. And because I am stressed. And stressed spelled backwards is “desserts.”
I believe I will be making a lot of desserts. My neighbors downstairs will be so happy.
While I still live here I might as well enjoy it.