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Creature of Habit

As I was walking from my place to the little Japanese
green tea store around the corner to get my matcha latte, I was thinking about
rituals like this one and how important they are in my life. Walking to that green tea place every morning, six
days out of seven (ah, if only it weren’t closed on Sundays!) is how I really start my working day. I say really, because actually, the day starts
about four hours earlier chez Dengler,
but that’s not my day. I usually sit
at my desk every morning, still half-asleep, pretending to work and waiting for
the time to pass (the store opens at 10am) so that I can go get my huge matcha
latte and become functional again. It’s not just the tea; it’s the people, too. I
feel welcome there. I am always greeted with a big smile. My drink is ready in
a few minutes, without me having to say anything. That feels nice.
As the date of the move is getting closer – and my
life is getting busier – I think a lot about the routines that help me make it through the day – especially
on some days; the handful of rituals that allow me to preserve my sanity when
things get tough or overwhelming or just plain busy.
I’m going to miss my little rituals: the weekly breakfast
with my girlfriends after yoga class; bagel lunch with the kids on Saturdays
after soccer practice (because mommy is too lazy to cook, but in this case everyone’s
happy); chatting with my lovely, indestructible 87-year-old neighbour who won’t
let me carry her bags down the four flights of stairs because “she can manage.”
I’m going to miss my little Japanese green tea store for sure; I still can’t
find anything of the kind in Zurich.
These are only a few of the rituals that make Vienna home
for me. Through them, I feel that I am part of a community; that I belong. They
energise me. They help me wind down, relax, recharge, even escape momentarily,
if that’s what I need. I’m not keen on losing them – neither the rituals nor
the people I share them with. On my darker days, I’m also not keen on
re-creating these rituals elsewhere. Even if I can find bagels in Switzerland, I
cannot have my “breakfast club.”
At the same time, I realise how crucial rituals are when
you move to a new place. That’s how you build familiarity and comfort; it’s how
you make the place “yours.” I want that, both for myself and for my family. I want
all of us to have the opportunity to thrive in our new home, even if it’s not
home right away; even if part of me feels like a traitor. I try to ignore that part as much as possible, because the other part of me realises that I’m not
replacing anyone or anything; I’m just surviving and creating new rituals is
part of the process.
I look forward to that process. I’m sure that, like
here, many of my new rituals will revolve around food (I’ve heard that chocolate
is good in Switzerland J). My
excitement has a melancholic edge and that’s ok.
As for the Matcha, since I have failed to convince my
Japanese friends to open a Zurich branch, at least we have agreed to set up
an online ordering and payment arrangement for my matcha powder supplies, while they are training me in
the secrets of matcha-making. Soon I will be a fully competent matcha barrista in my own kitchen.

Do you find rituals important? What are yours?

5 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Funnily enough, Starbucks and dropping my kids are my morning rituals and when I don't do them, I feel disoriented.
    Once, I ran to Starbucks after landing from a business trip and it was closed: I felt like a sense of loss.
    I totally get you about the security provided by small rituals.
    I am sure that in Zurich you will find them: birchermuesli, spruengli on paradeplatz..
    it is just a transition period and the fear of the unknown..
    Imagine if you were going to a place where there is only desert…

  2. Anonymous

    Funnily enough, Starbucks and dropping my kids are my morning rituals and when I don't do them, I feel disoriented.
    Once, I ran to Starbucks after landing from a business trip and it was closed: I felt like a sense of loss.
    I totally get you about the security provided by small rituals.
    I am sure that in Zurich you will find them: birchermuesli, spruengli on paradeplatz..
    it is just a transition period and the fear of the unknown..
    Imagine if you were going to a place where there is only desert…

    1. So you understand the sense of loss in a matcha-less society 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    It's funny how you do appreciate Vienna now that you have to leave it. It's quite a typical reaction, I feel the same if I think to leave NL, while when I think I'm stuck here I only see the negative aspects of the country (mainly climate).

    1. It took me nine years (out of the eleven) to appreciate Vienna and even now, I don't think it's Vienna per se that I appreciate, but what I've built here, especially on a human/social level. And my little rituals, of course 🙂

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