Re-entry from the floating world of Japan into the realities of Switzerland is historically bumpy.
The long airplane ride provides a moment of psychological preparation for the inevitable slings and arrows of domestic distress that are soon to occur. Normally well-balanced, I cry my eyes out at airplane movies—even the comedies and documentaries. When I land, I am emotionally worn out and completely ready for anything.
This return was quite successful, however. The heating was still working, there wasn’t a dead cat under the motorcycle cover, the bottom had not fallen out of the hot water boiler in the basement, and there seem to be no mouse families living in the kitchen.
Of course Henri-the-cat and all his friends and enemies have been having peeing competitions and hairball spitting competitions in the front corridor as the cat flap was open. But now that the neighbour’s cat has been evicted from its squat in the bomb-shelter, we are all feeling much better and the quality of the air is much improved.
One excellent thing about being away is that there is that you receive no mail. Not quite true. There was the occasional cheery flyer coming in through the front door concerning a deal for Authentic Japanese Curry over at Ookayama’s Nepal curry shop.
Here the accumulated heaps of bills, newspapers, and advertising tower on the hall table and demand attention by occasionally toppling onto the floor.
Bogged down in the morass of post-trip laundry I miss my little Japanese washing machine (short cycle 30 minutes, medium cycle 31 minutes, long cycle 32 minutes) that played a little jingle–a sort of housewifely hymn–when the time was up. Here, down in the serious Swiss washing room, the ageless Teutonic machine grinds on for hours and hours and has absolutely no sense of whimsy.
And the Japanese baby iron, shielded from dust and damage in its pink plastic carry-case was a much tamer version of the huge hissing and spitting monster that lives, works and breathes here.
I’ve just put my thumb through a rotted peel of a lemon I bought fresh and shiny yesterday. In Japan the flowers and fruit and vegetables last for weeks and weeks. They are objects of geometric perfection, and though I know we should all be embracing imperfect and rotting things, you can’t help but love a perfectly clean and proportioned carrot or miniature aubergine sold individually and preciously.
So, as I lay awake in my jet-lagged nights, gossamer strands of sushi trains and geisha bars float through my brain. They are starting to be joined by mountains, shepherd’s pie, lawnmowers and grandchildren.
I’m finally floating home.