This is my bomb shelter. It is designed to withstand not just bombs, but chemical and nuclear attacks. The door is six inches of concrete, and it has an air filtration system. Every home in Switzerland is required by law to have one of these. It takes a great deal of power to remain neutral during a time of war, and Switzerland remains vigilantly ready to guard its border and people, even now in this time of peace.
This bomb shelter used to be a source of levity to us. We use it for storage, things like winter coats, extra diapers and Christmas wrapping paper. The cool air and stable foundation makes it an excellent place for a wine cellar. I will admit that every time I walk past that heavy door I get a small frisson of anxiety. It is a potent reminder of what people once needed protection against. Imagining huddling in that small claustrophobic space with my loved ones, listening to the booms around us or sitting quietly, watching the hours tick by as I guess and pray as to when I can safely return back to the world as I knew it – never fails to stir a deep-seated disquiet.
Months ago (back when we were all so naive) I joked to my friend that if Brexit and Trump triumph this year, I would stock up the bomb shelter. It’s not that funny anymore. I bite my lip as I stand at the threshold, wondering if it would be worth it to get some bottled water, some canned goods, just to be on the safe side. I see an America that threatens to become isolationist again, the forces of nationalism raging across Europe once again, while xenophobia and bigotry raise their ugly heads EVERYWHERE and I fear what life has in store for us. Think I’m exaggerating? Take this delightful trip back in time, with Tobias Stone’s History tells us what may happen next – we’ve seen this before. Is this the nostalgic days of yore we’re yearning for?
In truth, this week has been heartbreaking, and my heart broke just a little bit more watching the immensely talented Kate McKinnon’s rendition of Cohen’s Hallelujah.
But all is not lost. There have been many instances of kindness and acts of generosity this week as well. Let us all watch out for each other and ensure through our words and actions that every human being is treated as equal, both by law and in the eyes of society.