When I say to some of my friends ‘did you know that today is exactly eleven years to the day since I left Switzerland?’ I know many of them would simply sigh and remind me how it’s no good burying yourself in the past. And I admit, I do have a tendency to do that, bury myself in the past, get stuck on minute details, get my knickers in a twist about things that others might not event notice, but this particular day, this event in my own past, is up there among the big ones for me. Big ones like birthdays, the day my grandmother passed away, my wedding day (even though I’ve been divorced for many years) and things like that. On this day eleven years ago I left Switzerland with tears running down my cheeks and an emptiness in my heart that might have diminished over the years, but that has never really gone away.
I reminded my mother this morning that it was eleven years ago. She knows, she was there with me on the day as she’d flown down a few days earlier to help me pack up. Not that I’ll ever know, but things could have been so very different if I hadn’t had to leave! No, really! They could have been! I had my first mental collapse little over a year after I had to leave, my first of many longer depressive bouts. And that has changed my life, maybe even more than having to move home again did.
We slept the last night in a hotel down by Landesgemeinplatz, my mum and me, since my furniture had already been picked up and I had handed the keys to my apartment over to a friend who would oversee the cleaning and the handover to the landlord. My wonderful flat with a balcony that easily fit fifteen people and had a (slightly obscured but still) view of the Zugersee and the Alps, but most of all Rigi, the Queen of Mountains. All the days and nights that had been spent on that balcony… *sigh* It was a miracle that I had the flat at all, but when I got it I saw it as nothing less than a sign from whatever Gods rule the worlds that I was supposed to stay. That Switzerland really was my home.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I found myself in Switzerland. I found a me that I kind of liked, a me that was independent and strong, a me that was fun and actually even rather cute… It took a while, at first I didn’t want to move to Switzerland, the language was scary and incomprehensible and I was supposed to be a luxury wife while the husband (now ex-husband) worked. But all that changed when I arrived, and even more when I started working and finding my own space. When I allowed the Alps to work their magic on me, to hypnotize me. And they did. The language also got easier with time, and once I started to get to know some people I suddenly realised that I had found my home.
The separation from the ex-husband was almost a natural step after that, though I won’t claim it was easy. I just realised that I loved myself far too much to live the way being with him required. And I set off on my own. The flat I got through a friend who turned out to own some apartment buildings (she was worried I might not want to live there since the previous inhabitant had killed herself) and it was just perfect for me! But little over a year later I was standing in line at Kloten Airport in Zürich, passport and deportation papers in hand on this day exactly eleven years ago.
I left behind an apartment I loved, a man I was hoping could become ‘the one’, friends who still make me cry when I think of how wonderful they are and a job I might not still have had, but that would absolutely have lead to interesting things. But most of all I left behind a country I loved and a me I had just begun to discover. Eleven years ago today… I died a little eleven years ago on this day and the memory of that day makes me die a little more every time I think of it.