Starting to Remember

April 24, 2009

Hey, people who are searching for “Swiss Chalet” on google! I am really entertained by how this page apparently accounts for, like, 30% of my traffic. Thanks for stopping by, even if only for that image I got from google image search too! (Take a look around, if you want? I’d appreciate the stranger lovin’.)

I wanted to use this blog as a space to share and recount/write down some of my past stories, going with the whole “binary memory” thing from the first post. I’m still not entirely sure how I’d like to structure this, and things will likely be missing, but let’s try, hmm? A couple might be more boring than others, sadly, though I’ll at least try and include some good ones with the ones that aren’t as good. I want to do a lot of these over time, too, besides the damn walk story, haha–it’s a story I tell all the time and/or use in application essays about when I took a walk around Charleston with a homeless man when I was ten or so. I just tell it way too much–gotta start remembering them all. (I’ll put it up here sometime, at least. Just not yet. And/or you can just ask and I’ll probably tell you, anyway. :B) But enough of that. Let’s talk about Switzerland.

I spent three months in eighth grade in Switzerland–sort of a pseudo-study abroad-transfer student thing. The experience is a definite fixture in my mind and memory, even though I don’t remember it as well as I should. I’m still incredibly grateful and appreciative that I got to do something like it, and it’s easily one of my most fondly remembered experiences, but it’s one of those happiness-binary things. I mainly remember it was “good”, so I’m going to try writing about it in hopes more things will come back in time. As a result, especially when I talk about it specifically, these stories are going to be fractured and hole-y in nature, and further they’re going to skip around: might have a paragraph on one event and a sentence on another. If they end up boring I suppose I’ll just write them for myself off-blog–though I’m already noticing how much the happiness I get from reactions to my writing on this blog (300 hits so far!!! This makes me more happy than it has any right to!) and how much that pushes me to keep writing, so I would really prefer to keep these open. We’ll see! (Lemme know if you like or don’t like ’em–that’ll help.)

It was a small school in a mountain town called Lenk, near Bern. Mostly Americans–about thirty or so. The guys lived in the same place where we took classes, while the girls lived about a mile away in a (really nice!) Chateau. We had classes the first half of each day, (pretty standard subjects, besides Swiss History, which we’ll get to later.) and then took skiing classes for a few hours after that. On the weekends and some weekdays we would either travel to other towns and cities in Switzerland, ski more, look around the town, or in a couple of cases take an apprenticeship with a local business.

Enough of that general stuff! Stories! Once I was skiing very early on into the three months (it went January-March’s end, so prolly mid January.) by myself. I had absolutely no experience with it beforehand, so I was still learning the basics. I was passing under a ski lift when I screwed up my balance and basically flipped, landing on my back. As I looked up into the glaring sun, I saw two people on the ski lift directly above me. Upon closer inspection, they were two kids laughing at me and pointing. Did wonders for my ego, haha.

Something about Swiss kids, today: I remember we were on a weekend trip in some city–I wanna say Bern, not entirely sure–and at a hockey game. The stands were incredibly uncomfortable but kind of interesting to look at, basically like four giant concrete staircases jutting out from the ice. As our group sat during the game a bunch of kids kept throwing their concession stand trash at us. We glared back (well, the others in the group–like hell I had the courage to do that), and they kept throwing trash. I distinctly remember tinfoil being involved. Our counselor finally walked up and told them to stop. They said in broken English that they would stop. Once the counselor got back to his seat they proceeded to throw an actual half eaten hot dog at me, complete with mustard. We just tried to ignore them after that. Good times.

Same hockey match at halftime: a weird European sort of rock band came on for a show. I don’t remember much besides them being pretty crazy, but I do remember one part very, very clearly: they sung entirely in German except for once in one song. Right in the middle:


In some kind of historic coliseum in another city: the structure was surrounded by grass and stone seating, with some random stone cubes jutting out of the side of the grass in some spots. I think the cubes were in a line along the pathway down into the coliseum, I’m not sure. Incredibly pleased with myself, I sat down on one and said to a friend: “Look! Box seats!” (Another “good one:” I got the key for our hotel room on a trip and proclaimed myself the “keyper.” Oh, 14 year old Will, you! I miss you sometimes, kid.)

In the same coliseum we were taught about a story: A man loves a woman and gets in trouble for it–I think she’s a princess and he’s a peasant–and as a punishment from the woman’s father he has to pick one of two doors. One has a tiger, which will immediately eat him, and the other has a beautiful woman who is not the princess, whom he must immediately marry on the spot. On the day of the door picking he stands in the middle of the coliseum. He looks to the princess, for she has told him that she knows what is behind which door. He stares at her, sadly and sternly, silently asking for direction. The princess points to one door, and he faithfully strolls ahead and picks that door immediately. But what did she pick? Did she pick the beautiful woman, who he may be happy with but will cause her to look at him with sadness and her with jealousy for all their lives? Or did she pick the tiger, send him to his death, but to a death where only she will have had him? It’s funny that it’s a story, really–I think most everyone, from the distance of storytelling, would say they would send him to the woman–but it feels like the kind of choice you only know the answer to once the decision is immediately upon you, once you allow emotion to seep into the process. I wonder what I would pick, but I find myself happy in this situation to, for once, not be way too self aware for my own good enough to know. Hmm. I remember not thinking about this that much back then, though. I’m surprised I remember it.

This one’s gone on long enough, certainly, though I’ll end it with something quick but poignant in my mind, which I mentioned in my last post’s poem. On the last night I was there, all of the guys went for a walk after midnight. They invited me, said I should come… I didn’t know why, but for some reason, I said no. They left, left for hours, and I instead sat on a computer, waiting for them to return.  They eventually came back. All I remember is one of them telling me that they cried together. Everyone went to sleep, including me, though I’m fairly sure I lied in bed thinking for a while first. Now, I think I probably didn’t go because of a strange shyness complex–despite the fact I knew all of them and was friends with most, I for some reason felt shy or detached. There’s a certain something here, I think, which will hopefully come with time as I remember more of these things.

You might’ve noticed that I haven’t been talking about specific people. I do feel like I need to write about the people there and my relationships with them, especially in figuring out my mind from that point–I just don’t know how I feel yet about talking about them on a public blog. I think I’ll do it privately, at least, or maybe put a few of the less personal ones up here. (Coincidentally, though, if any of you WT guys read this: I’m always down to talk or catch up. Damn if I ain’t a changed kid from then… though I’m sure you guys are, too.)

That’ll do for now–more later. This really is doing wonders for my memory, though!

(Ever since, I have sought night meetings.)

6 Responses to “Starting to Remember”

  1. Mariah said

    I think telling old stories, even if they aren’t inherently spiritual or even unusual, is really important. Even though I tend to distill experiences (good, mistake, intense, etc.), recounting those stories forces me to consider the complexities.

    I used to get really frustrated when I journaled because I couldn’t write everything. So I completely understand the holes.

    A really quick story about random English: When I was living in Germany, there was a DJ in a local disco from Detroit. He used to make snide comments in fast, heavily-accented English. Usually, these were sort of mean and not that interesting (along the lines of “the best thing about living in Germany is that nobody can speak Goddamn English!). But once, he announced more slowly “This is for all the ladies and homies!” Everybody cheered. Then he started playing “White and Nerdy” (the Weird Al version of “Rolling Dirty”). And NOBODY NOTICED.

    • gimec said

      Hahaha, I’m getting this great mental image of everyone in the disco dancing while completely unaware of the lyrics. Then again, when I was a kid I at one point thought “Baby Got Back” was a Weird Al song, so I guess I can’t really talk, haha.

  2. Josh said,_or_the_Tiger%3F

    I actually read that in 6th or 7th grade… strange to hear it presented like that.

  3. Josh said

    Also: When I read this in school and we discussed what we thought was behind the door, all I was able to say was that I thought it was intentionally ambiguous and was proud of myself for seeing through that. Now I would probably say that the woman was behind the door. Strange development.

  4. Austin said

    I was in WT 09

    • gimec said

      Well, damn, dude. Cool! Did you like it? Did you happen upon this site because you were searching for something WT-related? I should really bug some old WT-ers sometime… time of my life, man.

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