After a travel day that was as rocky as the cobblestone streets that trace the city’s old district, I have been calmed by the serenity of this tidy and enchanting place.
An early morning walk through downtown provided me the much-needed break from packing, traveling, arriving. A little park overlooking the river and the central buildings was the ideal spot to allow my brain to unfurl from its guarded state; a defense mechanism that numbs the input of external stimuli when everything you see, hear, smell, taste and touch, is new.
In that park, sitting on a wooden bench, I allowed myself to finally expose my senses to Zurich’s offerings. A crisp bite to the air chilled my fingers and I saw my breath. Every visible exhale carried with it the stress and toil of getting here, and as the chaotic wisps faded I smiled on the inside for the first time in days. My eyes relaxed and saw the city, not just a collection of buildings holding unpronounceable street signs. The acute rays of the early morning light bathed the city in an orange quite fitting for October, and I was struck at how long the shadows were because long shadows are things I only associate with afternoon sun. The damp musk of a thousand yellow leaves dotting the gravel underfoot enveloped me. I breathed in deep and held it in long. I reveled in the scent, not because it was necessarily pleasant, but because it reminded me of something I have been struggling to find for years: home.
Below, the city was stirring, aided by the hush of the electric trams on their exquisitely punctual schedules. A group of children scurried over close to where I sat; their laughter and energy broke my serene introspection. But in doing so, the children reminded me that for as stately and important and rigid as it may be, Zurich does have a soul, a soft bit between the buildings and the wealth and the status.
It is within this warm embrace where I want to focus my efforts for the next however long we are here. I am trying not to get caught up in the difficult housing market, the high cost of living, the tricky language barrier and umpteen other cold, hard factors. I’m here and my wife is by my side and our cats are too; and we’re going to make it home. At least until the wind blows us somewhere else.