The first raclette of the season only means one thing in Switzerland – in my eyes at least – colder temperatures are upon us, thus, it is the end (or the beginning, depending on how you look at it.) Trees gradually shedding their skin while us mere mortals grudgingly cover ours, we chase after sunsets that, unfailingly, arrive too early to the party. And though summer will occasionally come out for a last hurrah, we know in our core that there is something about that morning breeze that we can no longer shake off.
It is not all that bad though, I like fall – when nature takes out her brush and transforms every corner into an art gallery. Fall is flirty. Fall is fiery. Fall is fearless. And just at the moment we fathom it is the season for raclette again – as if it were the one hibernating during the heat, the craving is immediate. It awakens the child in all of us. Famished. And now. Waiting impatiently for the slices of cheese to melt, then scraping (raclette derives from the verb "racler", to scrape) it ever so slowly on tiny potatoes, with best friends dried meat, pickled onions and gherkins to make sure that the experience is complete; whoever coined the incorrigible term foodgasm, I will kiss his hand. I had my first raclette a couple of days ago.
Like most dishes with abundant cheese, however, it got heavy pretty quickly. Scrape that. The dish is cheese, and it gets heavy instantly – and best friends gherkins, pickled onions and dried meat only remotely soothe the journey. As I was sitting with my sister at the table, we both wondered how such heavenly taste can easily turn into something so filling – revolting almost – in a heartbeat. The edge. I could only agree with her train of thought, pointing out that the uncanny thing about our Swiss pride is that the first sensation of melting cheese in our mouth provides such a high; we are bound to continue to eat as many slices as possible – not to satisfy our hunger – but somehow in the hope of magically feeling that first rush again, so vehemently. Truth be told, getting that edge is practically impossible to recreate. A lost cause. I am always curious as to why I have to learn that same lesson every time I prepare raclette. It is cheese after all – and of course I ended up more stuffed than I intended to.
One of my closest friends from university always asks me why I have to put value on each experience of my life; not only that but why the best and the worst are the most beloved –– if not most used –– words in my vocabulary. The best holiday of my life, the best party I have been to, the worst man in history, the worst essay I have written. I reckon I do not do it on purpose, but if I were to let my stories speak truth, the Trans-Siberian was the best adventure, that techno marathon at Berghain in 2005 was the best night I ever had or the worst person I encountered is still that old man throwing racist insults at us in front of hundreds in that tram in Vienna back in the 1990's. Finally, I regard my essay on my favorite genre, the Bildungsroman, as the worst essay I have ever handed to a professor. Perhaps I do live in hyperboles, and with good reason. The edge.
When is the prime of your life? And if you fancy to have lived it already, is there such a thing as just one peak? Or is it a series of highs with satiated, semi-dormant times bridging the gaps? Take for instance artists blessed with a one-hit wonder, but who unfortunately never managed to reach the same (or better) success afterward; or a ballet dancer who has to hang up her shoes to let a younger one take her place. If there is such a thing as reaching the peak, anything that follows seems unmatched and simultaneously, merely a yen for that initial rush. Bring out another album, be a choreographer. Yet like raclette, getting that edge seems nearly impossible to recreate – not because you cannot have any more of it, in some form you will; but eventually, any clean slate gets dirty.
The reason I give so much value on each experience of my life is because of the edge. It was flirty, fiery, fearless. It still is. I have yet to be proven wrong. In fairness, considering it the edge may be the result of an afterthought, a judgment only given in hindsight; but with time, I learned to be fully aware when magic happened. It was the best; and it was the worst. I will always overindulge on moments to the point that it is almost revolting, not because I wish to get satiated but because I am convinced I never will be. I will not live my life otherwise. Truthfully, I have yet to be proven wrong. Sure, we worry that we have seen so much that even new surprises seem like memorabilia already. We constantly fear that we suffered one too many times that we can only end up jaded. Has the prime of your life already passed you by? Thinking it has solely depends on the strength of your inner child, however, I am fairly certain that a lifetime is indeed a series of highs; nevertheless, it is a trap to let the times bridging the gaps be dormant. It is given that it will never be that initial high that only the unexpected, unmatched can provide; but fundamentally, it all comes down to falling in love with our life that becomes less edgy. It is not all that bad. The rush – even just the desire of it – definitely drives us, puts our life into fifth gear again; but anything that follows is also quite extraordinary. The bliss of an enduring journey. Photos make moments last forever; but they also remind us of a time that can never be again. Your wedding may famously count as the best day of your life, but you will get to celebrate anniversaries all the years after that. You might experience pregnancy only once, after, you will carry your child's heart when it will be his turn to live all his first firsts. Ultimately, it is not the new we fall in love with, but familiarity.