12 ONE NIGHT IN SWITZERLAND and Fin de Voyage:
I am greeted at the station by Katharina and her youngest daughter, Fiona (Katharina has four daughters, ages approx. 4-14) and we drive through the smallish town to their charming house. I’m not to get too attached to it: it is destined to be torn down in a few months to be replaced by a large, compacted apartment complex! The girls (and a friend) are playing basketball-like games in the street in front of the house. We swap names; only the eldest is reasonably comfortable with English (the others speaking Swiss-German). Father Michael, four cats and two rabbits later, I meet their piano. This is where my reputation lies with this family (I must have given my CD to Katharina last year at the Laughter Yoga Teacher Training).
I perform two sets (healthy-veggie-pizza dinner sandwiched between) and the whole family is extremely attentive as I play. When I start “I shall always love you Lorraine” they collectively gasp, and I hear “I love this one!” in several hushed Germanic voices. “A Musical Melodrama” is performed (here in Gibberish) and all the girls are tickled. After the two youngest girls have been sent off to bed, daughter Janina (2nd eldest) asks to sit beside me and improvise another story. Amidst a pastiche of Lisztian melodies, whole-tone glissando’s and silent movie clichés, Janina’s gibberish proves commendable. Once he youngins are tucked away, I take a much-appreciated hot shower. On my little bed-on-the-floor bed, I see a fresh sheet of paper decorated with many bright colors: Janina made a “Fur Jeffrey” welcoming drawing.
In the morning – husband Michael is already off to work, and eldest daughter Yanushka slipped off to school unnoticed. The three younger daughters, Katharina and I film some Elmo-scenes and chow down on a selection of Organic Muesli’s. We share some selected Tongue-Twisters from our relative languages; no one dares try the words from a foreign tongue. I give each person present a Laughing Sun sticker set, and a special gift (her own copy of my CD) to Janina to thank her for her drawing. After a brief tickling of the piano in farewell, we make a quick visit to Katharina’s computer so I can Bookmark the Laughter Exercise Cards’ website and she can download the card’s booklet and Kataria’s“Foundation Exercises” descriptions in German!. She is very pleased to have this resource. We also watch the Video on “Using the Cards for other Games.” Katharina gets a lot of laughs out of this.
Janina gives me another drawing “For Jeffrey,” this one with fewer colors - and featuring stacks of snails! All are delighted to ride in the car to take the American to the airport; two blocks from the house we see 10 of Janina’s classmates and her teacher walking to a swimming lesson. We wave through the car windows as Janina boasts “We’re going to the airport!” I manage to get the three girls to sing a song together on our way. In return I regale them with “Supercalifragialisticexpialidocious” (a few times). The lyrics are far too much for them to tackle. A wild and wave-filled farewell and it’s in to the Zurich airport to head back home.
I foolishly packed a bottle of Bordeaux wine (a gift I’d received a week earlier in Rennes) to keep it safe in my carry-on bag. A Swiss airport security checker told me politely this “was not permitted.” I was thinking like 15 years ago (“Carefully wrap your beverage and carry it with you so it doesn’t get crushed in the checked baggage”) instead of the post- 9/11 consciousness (“No bottles of liquid over 3 ounces allowed!”). Hahahahahaha – I’ll just have to buy another bottle back in California. Only 12+ hours on the plane (only!) and I’ll be back home.
Home. “Trader Joe’s,” here I come!
But what I am most eagerly awaiting is our laughter club session on the beach tomorrow morning. I sure hope we have leaping dolphins! It will be so great to see Dave, Ruthe, Kathy and all the gang. ‘Cause with my friends, that too is where my heart is.
And all of these friends speak English!
The trip lasted only 3 weeks according to the calendar; but it feels like a long time (and a lot of profound happenings) have occurred.
--Jeffrey Briar completed May 26, 2010