I am Swiss: but wasn’t to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. Swiss as a piece of Gruyère cheese. Swiss as a tub of marmot fat (yes, you can buy this at a drug store in Altdorf—the town where William Tell shot the apple off his son’s head.) I am Swiss.
Before we progress it is important to establish this. I have spent my entire adult life in Geneva—the real one. I have a fistful of defunct red passports filled with stamps and visas and now punctured with Swiss-cross holes through them. I speak French (with a slight accent, I like to think) and I can swear like a trooper in Swiss German.
In addition to the shocking vocabulary, I also have a Swiss-German washing machine, salad swinger, iron, alp-horn, and husband. These things last forever.
I, and many of my possessions, have survived three St Bernards and a Great Swiss Mountain Dog. I even like Cenovis. I eat muesli for breakfast soaking in big, fat, Swiss cow bio-milk and take turns shopping at the Migros and the COOP. I make a delicious roesti. How much more Swiss can a girl possibly be? (I don’t often talk about it, but I do draw the line at dried green beans and blood sausages, but I’m thinking of working these in as well.)
However, there are moments when an inner un-Heidi rather Hyde-like creature emerges: a marshmallow-eating, pop-drinking, potato-chip crunching, peanut-butter smearing, chain-sawing, canoeing, gum-chewing, hockey-cheering Canadian throwback to earlier, easier times. Spaghetti in tins and rice in puddings: that’s where a piece of me still belongs.
And so welcome to my world: the world of the perpetual tourist at home and abroad.