Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Trailing Spouse

Since the start of 2014, it felt a bit like we were on a seesaw over the possibility of moving to Switzerland for a variety of reasons.  There were a large number of dependent variables swinging us up or down to thinking one day the possibility of making the jump to Basel was 80% probable, back down to 20%, then to almost zero bouncing back up to 50%, and so on.  It wasn't until Darby was made permanent at Roche/Genentech in October (after close to four years as both a contractor and temp employee) that discussions accelerated.

Things move quickly in business. I come at it from an education background, having spent, effectively, my whole career working for one college or university or another. I'm not used to plans moving so swiftly.  As we moved into the middle of October, the probability of our move quickly became a certainty, being put into motion after the documents were inked.  The downside here is that there a large number of logistics involved with getting your life in order for a move to the European continent.  The upside is that Roche has been extremely supportive and helpful in just about all aspects related, after all, they have done this before.  We have not.

The purpose of this blog is to document our experience in real time, creating a living and growing record of our time abroad.  Frankly, when some friends suggested I create this blog, I wasn't keen on the idea.  "Isn't that what Facebook and Twitter are for?"  Rightly so, a number of folks said not every one is on those platforms.

So, with no real guide or intention for how this blog will progress, I hope to be periodically posting (words, pics, and perhaps video), as things happen.  The aim is to document our experience so that when our memories fade, we still have a record of what happened to refresh it because
the faintest ink is better than the strongest memory - Chinese Proverb

The title for this blog - The Apéro - goes to the aim I have for our whole experience.  In Switzerland, there are is a long list of rules governing all things from how the trains run (on time!), what kind of bag you put your trash in, where you can and cannot walk your dog, and how you behave in all manner of situation.  The Apéro is an informal meeting of friends, usually involving some adult libation for the older folks in the room, and some heavy hors d'oeuvres.  It's a time for the Swiss to let their hair down and truly enjoy themselves, but it's not entirely with out it's own customs.
As the church bells chime six on any given evening, you can be sure that somewhere in Switzerland people are standing around holding a glass, eating a small something and introducing themselves to complete strangers. That last bit may sound odd for a nation renowned for its reserve, but it’s the second reason why drinks parties are great for meeting the Swiss. As a guest at a gathering of any size, your duty is not to lurk in a corner until you spot someone you know, but to say hello and shake hands with everyone, no matter how long that takes. As a host, your main responsibility is not to make introductions but to provide food that can be eaten easily and quickly; after all, guests need one hand for a glass and the other free for shaking. If your guests have both full, there’ll be no handshakes and Swiss society would collapse.
As ex pats from the USA, over the course of our time in Basel will, in effect, be a year long Apéro.  Our mission will be to "not lurk in a corner," but to reach out and meet & greet all the Swiss we can (and come to know them as deeply as we can).  Moreover, we hope to do a fair amount of exploring about nearby locations, as we want to maximize the proximity to spectacular destinations and find nooks and crannies we ordinarily would not sally forth to otherwise.

This blog will be our official family record. 

- yours!

AKA - The trailing spouse

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