It’s a little past 10:30am and we’re still in our tiny hotel room on the third floor, sun streaming through the French (yes French!) doors providing a much-needed dose of fresh air.
Sapphire and Love Chunks have colds. Bad ones. Colds that make it difficult to breathe, hold ones’ head up and feel interested in anything other than internal misery, aches, fever and the desire to simply go back inside, give in to it and lie down.
My cold, on the other hand, is minor. It has made things harder than they need to be but much more sympathetic to the sufferings of my small family. It is easy to forget how the all-encompassing domination of a truly bad cold can affect everything for the worse.
Despite this - and the limitations of our hotel room and the thought of it being ‘home’ for a month - we set off to explore Geneva on foot yesterday.
“Everyone looks so stylish,” Sapphire noted. “Is that what teenagers are supposed to look like? No wonder they give me the death stare as they pass by.”
“Hang on, you reckon that kids in Melbourne do the death stare as well….”
“Yes, it’s an older kid thing, Mum….”
“Then you try something different here, then. Smile instead.”
A head-shatteringly loud honk into her tissue and an eye-roll just visible above the quivering white snot rag was her only response.
I wanted to hug her and push her at the same time. Every step was blistering her foot “why did I buy these cheap birkenstocks in Singapore?”, she felt sick, she was tired, it was too far; the woman in the department store still kept talking at her in French even though she said, “Je ne parlez pas Francais” and was dying for a drink.
All of these observations were fair ones, but the view of the lake, having a drink at a café watching the ducks and pea hens swim up to us from the water and the unique look of the buildings and cobbled streets of the old town weren’t quite enough to lift her spirits.
And wouldn’t you know it but I got sunburnt! I’ll add Factor 30 to my shopping list that will include bed sheets,* mugs that hold more than 100ml, salt and pepper, a toaster and instant coffee which is better than no coffee at all.
Dinner last night was chicken, Japanese sticky sauce, vegetables and rice bought from a department store food hall. When you’re ill, the last thing you want to do make an effort to dress up and wander out for an evening meal and we were all grateful for the large saucepan we’d purchased earlier** and LC’s ability to conjure up something nutritious and filling. My contribution was three tiny tubs of Movenpick ice-cream which the freezer did a sterling job of turning into sludge at the time of eating.
After-dinner entertainment has been provided via iPad because the TV has forty-odd channels with only one in English. The first two nights’ have seen me feel too exhausted to fire up the laptop and write as well as the in-house wireless service having more dropouts than a tech college and me with the inexplicable urge to curl up in bed and hide……
LC and I have been given single beds, side-by-side, and already I feel sadder for not being directly next to him, touching, snuggling into his chest. Not that we’d want to perform a live version of the Kama Sutra with Sapphire in the same room, but the warmth of his back and the automatic cuddle at the end of the day is something that I miss terribly. Instead we’re all passed out by 9pm with jetlag and taking turns to puncture the air with snoring, gasps and snozz-whiping interspersed with trips to fill up water glasses and even louder nose blowing in the fully-tiled potentially-deafening acoustics of the bathroom.
And yet, I’m capable of understanding that we’ll all feel better soon and that our rudimentary grasp of apologetic phrases will sound more authentic and less shy and that we’ll find somewhere decent to live and enjoy setting it up the way that we want. I’m capable of understanding that we’re in a natural anti-climax mode and that LC’s ‘welcome officer’ will hopefully be providing us with some actual help now that we share the same geographical coordinates and will be staring at her with pleading faces tomorrow morning.
And I’m also capable of understanding that we’re on an adventure that will present its fair share of challenges and frustrations and that despair and fatigue will try their best to elbow in and take over. But there’s no two other people I’d rather be doing this with.
* (“Pardon, madame? You want what – a bedsheet? We have none – just the, errr, quilt and bottom sheet….”
“Sorry? You need another pillow? We only have one per guest.” He softened slightly when I explained that Sapphire couldn’t breathe and needed to lift her head up a bit in bed. “I’ll see what we have in the cellar.” We’re also hoping that the single bog roll we’ve been given to last us the weekend will suffice. Small gripes to be sure, but they’re basics that, if automatically provided, would have made things a fair bit easier.