homeward bound

The world is moving toward the lake to watch the sparkling fireworks. I see them as I get off Tram 14 at Bel Air, crowds of people pressed against the railing over the Rhône River, straining their necks to see the bursts of light and colour over Lake Geneva.

It’s not your everyday fireworks show. It is considered one of the best in the world, lasts for one hour and is choreographed to music, and on Saturday night August 11, watching the fireworks is the only thing to do.

I had been out with friends, eating dinner and singing karaoke. When was the last time I sang karaoke? I honestly can’t remember, and there haven’t been many evenings out with friends in the past year (less than 10).

In Small One’s first year, I can’t remember how many times I cried to Husband about having lost my life. There is no number that I can think of that would be accurate, but I know that it was many, many times. I would catalogue the losses for Husband: my time, my energy, my dreams, my vision, my skills, my body, and the list goes on. Having a baby was one the most healing things I’ve ever done, but it came at a cost, and in my mind the cost was everything that I was. 

But summer 2012 arrived in Geneva, and with each passing day, someone is handing my life back to me one little piece at a time. I stopped nursing Small One, and my hormones regulated. Dates with Husband that remind me of our pre-marriage months except with all the marriage benefits of knowing each other better, increased, laughing more. There has been lots of summer heat, cotton skirts, lunches in the park with Small One, McDonalds take out for both of us by the lake, the Fête de Genève and meaningful times with friends.

The pinnacle of these moments was Saturday night sitting in the dimly lit interior of Aquarium, a small bar that has karaoke evenings. Singing is one of my favourite hobbies, karaoke reminds me of my childhood in the Philippines and it’s a chance to exercise my vocal chords to cheesy music. We are virtually the only ones there, the old DJ is trying to sound cool while he sings the first French song, he’s got a bright red light on in one part of the room to try and make it look cooler, I think. We browse thick karaoke books looking for songs to sing, and yes, I am feeling carefree and a little bit wild. The waitress comes by and puts three shots down in front of us – on the house because we sound good, she said – and here I am, having a great time and an identity crisis all at once.

I’ve never had a shot in my life. I know, I know, how old am I? Alcohol isn’t really my thing except for white whine, champagne and Amarula, and I don’t like to drink when I have to go home alone late at night. Nevertheless my moment of feminine independence seems to be set up to perfection: Alone with the girlfriends, check, Karaoke bar, check, dodgy DJ, check, shots, check.

And I can’t do it. I picked up the shot glass to take a sip – sweet, strong, alcohol, I guess – and I couldn’t drink it. I sing Shania Twain’s “Holding On To Love (To Save My Life),” and I’m feeling good. I love karaoke. Around 9:50pm, I call it a night, get on Tram 14 to Bel Air where I’m going to change to a bus. The tram pulls into Bel Air, the doors open into a packed crowd standing from the tram stop to the railing over the river. The fireworks started 10 or 15 minutes before, and it is beautiful. Fiery stars lighting up the sky, colours of every sort shimmering above us.

I walk away from the crowd, still turning as much as I can to catch the view, and head for the Bust 3 stop where I wait. The bus arrives and empties completely, everyone is walking toward the lake, drawn like magnets toward the fireworks. I take one look back, hop on the bus. It is completely empty, just the bus driver and I, and I sit in my favourite seat.

I am going home. 

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