5th Grade Dreams Do Come True by Martin Allison

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“I imagine this is how God expected the world to be” my long-time travel buddy/roommate/best friend smiled as we shared some REAL hot cocoa before our bus ride back to Florence.  Bundled in furs on the outside bench of our new favorite cafe in Interlaken, Switzerland, life did not feel short from perfect.  The air seemed to detox our lungs from Florence’s gasoline-exhausted streets, and the water from the public fountains bubbled clear out of simple fixtures into pristine, rich wooden wells.  We actually filled our bottles and drank the water–a feat we’d never accomplished in Florence.  My 20-year-old self was thriving in every way imaginable…as well as my 5th grade, 10-year-old self. 

In my last year of elementary school, I was assigned a project to research my family ancestry, create a doll replicating the traditional clothing and styles, and to make an ‘authentic’ food item.  Since a classmate already signed up for English/British, my father’s family was out–leaving my mother’s side whom are almost entirely Swiss.  The Inabnits, Swiss-German to be exact, from Grindelwald, Switzerland, I had no idea what to expect.  I spent weeks pouring over family photo albums, watching movies, and tasting traditional “swiss” food, leaving my ever-so-impressionable 10yr self completely smitten by the idea of this mystical, far-off place.  The day of my doll presentation, I clutched the photo my mama had given me of her, at age 20, exploring Grindelwald for the first time with her younger sister, and I knew this was it.  Fast forward a decade and some change later, when a trip to Switzerland this past weekend (Oct 31-Nov 3) fell into my lap.

Completely unplanned and far from my 10-year-old self’s ideas, Switzerland  was not primarily on my list this semester. Nevertheless, I got my roomate on board and we booked the trip to Interlaken, Switzerland through a student travel company…because why not.  The day before (classic college student move) I decided to research where Interlaken actually was, and upon zooming in on google maps my heart fluttered as my gaze fell to the left of my destination on the tiny pin: “Grindelwald.”  No. Way.  I was a 5th grade girl again, giddy with high hopes and expectations.  I convinced my best friend to book a train to Grindelwald for a day trip during our weekend, and just before I tucked in to at least try for a rest in preparation for the day ahead–my snapchat memory notification pinged. From 3 years ago, iphone 4 quality, cropped, my beloved picture of my mother–perched in front of the Grindelwald train station.  This was it.  I did not stop for breakfast or coffee that morning (a rarity for me), but threw my body onto the Grindelwald shuttle yanking my best friend along behind me.   She (very graciously I might add) stuck with me as I ran across the town, searching and seeking to walk the same footsteps my mother had so long ago, and that my younger self had dreamed for so many nights about.  The day did not disappoint, and several hot chocolates, fresh spring water, and joyful tears later…well…I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself.       

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