Everybody is gone: my boys on a cruise with their father, some friends in the States, in Greece, France, Italy and so on and on.
I am traveling in my mind.
I was again a student, hanging around at the river in Zurich discussing with my friends about Heidegger or Derrida, smoking my own made cigarettes and drinking red wine.
Or I met there a man I was very fond of and him as well of me, but he didn’t want to leave his girlfriend. She didn’t mind him seeing me from time to time. I couldn’t agree with this setting.
Or I remember how I was sunbathing there at the riverside on Sunday afternoons, reading heavy books and searching hard for an intelligently looking young man to talk to.
I spent many summers there, trying out different relationships. But my summer feeling kept always to be the same, and it came back when I visited this place a few days ago.
It was in my first class. I was seven. I had to do those additions: 6+7=12 or 13? 5+8=24 or 23 or 22? I was looking at my fingers, counting, recounting and I was so nervous about these figures. They were turning around in my head.
I walked to my teacher, an elderly woman, a Mademoiselle, certainly not married, with heavy glasses and a strong voice. She sat at a table, two steps above the floor. She took my sheet of calculations. Her red pencil was like a weapon. She destroyed all my nice additions – with a red dash.
I stepped back to my pupil desk – with a red face.
It has been a real fight – my figures and me. My father, a professor of mathematics, was desperate.
My mother even cried when we left after the talk with my teacher. How could I do this? Her daughter was so stupid. It was her first big crisis as a parent.
Wednesday afternoon, when my friends used to play on the street, I sat with my father repeating additions. As I couldn’t concentrate well, he closed the rolling shutters and we sat under the artificial light.
“Your daughter won’t be able to go to a high school later”, my teacher said to my father.
My father believed her and not in me.
I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood playing together with other children.
Maybe, it is because my mother wanted us, my brother and me, to be around her when we came back from school.
Maybe, she was feeling so lonely at home when we were at school and she was happy to have company when school was off.
She was upset when I spent the whole afternoon on my bed in my room reading books.
She wasn’t happy when I brought my friend with me and when we were knitting pullovers and drinking tea during our free afternoons on Wednesdays.
I should have been my mom’s unique friend.
What a destiny: Being born for replacing her difficult childhood during World War II by a happy motherhood.
There are pictures, and there are stories. I look at the picture and I see the story, which wants to be told.
I am standing with my naked feet in the sand on the beach. It is a very early morning. Nobody is already up.
It is this time between the times: between being awake and totally busy during the day.
There is much space to be filled in with floating pictures, memories and thoughts in my head.
There is much quiet to look at my life from very far away.
And there is time to find new combinations how my life could run in the future.
It would be nice to have such a moment every day, feeling the naked feet on the ground before starting into the daily hassle.
Green isn’t the color I like very much. But when I saw this lamp in India, I changed my mind.
It doesn’t often happen that I change my mind. I like to stick to the things I am used to.
Since years I keep this painted wooden elephant from India in my kitchen, the colorful metallic bird from Indonesia in the living room or the funny cotton camel garland from Egypt at the entrance door.
Do you know the feeling when you come back home from some weeks of traveling and you look at all these things you were used to before?
Don’t you have the impression, you look at them from outside even though they have been your close friends since a long time?
Changing the point of view, changes many things or views.
Sometimes, it is helpful to get a healthy distance to habits, too.
Three weeks in India, four weeks back in Switzerland: four weeks of school, homework, getting up at times when one likes to sleep. Tough times.
But there are all the memories of our traveling in India.
Memories of rich experiences, of living two days in an Indian train, meeting so many different people, playing games on the mobile phone and eating ice cream with an Indian boy.
Or joking around with Tenzing, our “big brother” in a small hut which serves as living room, kitchen and sleeping room at the same time.
It is great to have all these pictures stored in our memory when daily life is difficult to stand.
Spending time with friends is very important. Feeling connected brings warmth into life.
Sometimes, you don’t feel very close to certain friends, but you still like them.
Sometimes, your friend’s life changes so much that you don’t have much in common. This feels strange and it bothers me.
Sometimes, it feels okay that you are gliding away from each other because you don’t have anything to share with.
Friendship is a very delicate thing.
It pushes me to enjoy every beautiful moment to the full extent because nothing stays the same.
Our favorite village in South India at five o’clock in the morning: before flying home to Switzerland we left our rests of shampoos, creams and shower gels in front of our friend’s door.
This was the occasion for my boy, still in his pajama, to sit down, to enjoy the empty main road on the cliffs and to wait until his mother has caught these special moments by her camera.
The moments of transition are always very powerful; and I remember them all: when I left New York, Paris, Istanbul, Marsa Alam, Fuerta Ventura and so on. I remember how I felt: sad, excited, happy, dreamful, anxious, angry, hopeful and so on.
And in Varkala, I remember as well the rough smell of the sea and I hear the aggressive ravens’ shouting.
Memories by all senses are the most precious and everlasting ones in life.
He’s got this bright smile on his face. It is promising.
Two years passed that I took this picture. So many things have changed. Now, my ten-year-old is discussing with me why I dare punish him by shutting down his iPod for a day; he is arguing with me because I push him to go to the Wing Chung classes on Tuesday and Thursday he wanted to sign on half an year ago or he doesn’t understand why I ask him to help me in the kitchen when he has so many more important things to do.
He is only ten years old but his hormones must do many somersaults per day. He starts crying when I treat him “unjustly” as he says. Three seconds later, he is looking at me as if I were a total stranger. Mum, he goes, you look awful, take off your glasses.
We will be having so many discussions in the future until he will reach majority. He has to strengthen his personality by finding out in which way he is different than me.
When we will get there, we will certainly laugh about these discussions we are having now and I wish he would still have his charming smile on his face.
One morning, a waiter told us that there would be fifty elephants in Varkala. Okay, nice dream but we didn’t believe him. Later during the day, another India man said: “You will see fifty elephants tomorrow. What a lucky thing!” Must have been a joke in India to tell the tourists about upcoming crowds of elephants. We laughed. The next day, there were the elephants, not fifty but about thirty-five and I was rather scared. I was even more scared when I saw the animal police with their injection guns ready to shoot at any moment of panic alert. But nothing happened and this parade became one of the most unforgettable moments in India.