Thursday, November 6, 2008

Feeling at Home

After the late delivery of our air shipment our expectations were not too high for when we'd see our surface shipment. I'm happy to report it was delivered on the last day of the original window we were given, so it wasn't late! And on top of that nothing arrived damaged, broken, or even missing! We quickly unpacked as many boxes as possible as the movers assembled the guest bed, that way they could take away the cardboard boxes. Cardboard recycling only happens once a month here and we just didn't want to have to deal with it. I spent the entire day unwrapping paper and putting things away. CF helped with the kitchen in the evening. We were left with a fully stocked kitchen but we also brought quite a lot of our own favorites. We packed up a number of their things using the paper and boxes that had just brought our things to us, and those boxes are being carefully stored in the attic (and one in the basement) while we put our year of wear and tear onto our own pots and pans. The apartment took a huge step towards feeling like home with the addition of some of our things and furniture. It really is a great space, I love it here.

Invigorated by the completion of our "move" I went out to the market the next morning and came home with, along with produce for the week, a bundle of branches with two different kinds of berries and leaves. I noticed people leaving with these bundles before I even got to Bürkliplatz. This guy with a van full of the greenery was making arrangements on the fly. It seemed ever so shady, but lots of people were buying so why shouldn't I? I loved the look of them even more once they were displayed on my dining table. A much bigger arrangement than I could ever stomach if it were flowers, the branches reached up towards our ridiculously high ceilings. I was obsessed with them for days and started photographing them repeatedly. You'll be seeing a lot of them in this post as I have little else to illustrate it with!

Finally feeling at home in my apartment it was time to make the most important connection with my city. I had meant to join a gym the moment I touched down here but I got sick and then I visited the rather bare-bones gym just down the street and wasn't quite sure what to do. There was a sign up that appeared to outlaw shorts and tank-tops there! I finally heeded the advice of the many nice expats who had ALL recommended Fitness Park and went to check it out. The cardio equipment was all purchased this summer, no sign of an overly modest dress code, and a hamam downstairs! Haman is a Turkish bath, which sounds like heaven while anticipating the coldest winter of my life. Back in California this summer I was talking to my chiropractor about looking for familiar services over here. He suggested looking for a gym with lots of perks so people will be hanging around, since I wouldn't be working it might be a place to make some connections and friends. "Look for a place that has a juice bar, that's what you need!" So I suppose I should have just handed over my money when I came upon just that while I toured the gym. I tried to resist the pricier gym but in the end I signed up for their 12-month membership.

My first workout there was rather amusing. I somehow hadn't even thought about the fact that I could barely read a word of German and didn't know much about converting miles-per-hour to kilometers-per-hour, not to mention what my weight in kilograms would be or how many of them I could lift! I faked my way through cardio machine programming as best as I could and enjoyed sweating after being cold for what felt like a long time. I had to get used to the fact that here I am the exception to the rule, and the few "overly naked European women" encountered at the locker room back at Gold's are now the majority. I was so uncomfortable with locker rooms before, I used to borrow CF's cellphone so I could set an alarm earlier than everyone else's on band road trips so I could get up and use the showers before the other girls got up. I think I made it through my entire band career showering alone. Now, this is a fancy gym so there is just enough privacy, but with everyone else being so relaxed about it I guess it was hard not to follow suit. And I can't help but admit that with a body that I sometimes feel hangs off of me like a deflated balloon, it's been comforting to witness many different body types. Nobody's "perfect." After sweating and a nice warm shower the cold air outside feels refreshing instead of daunting. Sometimes I even walk home, or at least part of the way.

At the end of my first week at the gym I decided it was time to brave spin class. I introduced myself to the teacher, "Grüezi, hello, I'm new to the gym but I'm not new to spinning. So I'll watch you carefully and I should be able to follow the class just fine." I was met with a skeptical and slightly amused look. As nice as this gym is, it is located in a city so space is not totally unlimited. There is only one class room so the bikes are stored along one side of the room. I dragged my bike out and got ready to ride. I tried to ignore the couple other skeptical looks I was getting, I realized I was back to being the biggest person in class. Man, there are some skinny Swiss girls! Well, talk about feeling at home! It barely mattered one bit that I couldn't understand what he was saying. There are three hand positions in spinning, and I knew how to count from one to three, so I could follow that. I watched the person riding next to me for whether to turn the gear up or down and pretty soon I figured out what "lower" and "more" sounded like. The teacher kept a careful eye on me, but about 15 minutes in gave me a huge smile. I guess I had proved myself that quickly. When I couldn't understand what he was saying I would just smile and sort of imagine something DD would be saying in class back at home. The class was a breeze, and afterwards we all grabbed paper towels and spray bottles and cleaned off our bikes. This could never happen at home, the next class would be rushing in. In Zürich there are about as many spin classes in a week as Gold's would have in a day. As I waited for a chance to grab some paper towels the teacher came over and started grilling me about spin in California. Do they pay attention to heart rate zones? Do they just go crazy fast? What kind of music did we listen to? Any recommended music? Can you give me this recommended music? It felt great that I had disproved the assumptions I had encountered here. And I was yet again making friends with the spin teacher. Some things are just the same wherever you go!

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I love spin for that very reason... I've always found it to be user friendly,a great workout and the people are just a bit more friendly than many other classes.