I just returned from a school reunion in Lugano, Switzerland. I went to boarding school there many years ago and this year about 65 of us gathered to retrace our steps and relive old times. Some people brought their spouses, some were from different classes so we didn’t know everybody going in but we made new friends and our family expanded.
We ate risotto, cannelloni, pizza, spaghetti, and ended the trip with a six course meal. We drank Prosseco and lots of good wine. The first night we were entertained by a local group of Italian men making traditional music. One of our friends put together a slide show of photos of all of us when we were in high school.
We spent a day in the Versazca river valley. Our buses had trouble making some of the hairpin curves up and down the mountain. We stopped in a small village and hiked to the river and some went to the falls. Our second stop was at the famous Roman bridge that everybody jumps off of. It was a tradition at school every year and we would cheer people on as they jumped. This time it was even more impressive to see the over 50 crowd jump into the icy cold water.
We took the funicular up Monte Bre and enjoyed the spectacular view. A group of us walked back down the mountain and were sore for days but they had a great story to take home with them.
On our last day we took a boat cruise to the nearby town of Marcote for dinner. It was raining on the boat but we had a live band and dancing and it was still beautiful.
That last night we gathered in our common room and I was sitting next to an old friend of mine. She said, “I hate good byes. We never put down any roots.” I knew exactly what she meant. I looked around the room at people I had known most of my life. I said, “ This is our home. These people are our home. We are a family”. And I started to cry. It was so hard to have to say good bye to the people who understood what it was to be a third culture kid, where no explanations were needed, where we could be ourselves with no compromise or pretending. Some people call us chameleons because we adapt and adjust to our surroundings but we are never truly comfortable and never feel completely relaxed except when we are together.
It was hard to leave Lugano, one of the most beautiful places on earth but the hardest part was saying good bye to each other.