Bringing it up to date | Storyteller Travelling Photographer
Sitting at my computer I hardly know where to start other than knowing that there is already a lifetime of stories that have accumulated in 10 very short yet long weeks since we left Canada.
It's a case of paralysis by analysis
But I knew that I needed to get things up to speed in order for the whole story to make sense! In the words of a great friend who reminds me on a daily basis...to slow down and just enjoy what is in front of me we start with where we are right now.
Since arriving to Europe - we have had so many different mornings in so many different places - so to be able to call one of these places our very own Swiss House is something of a complete and total novelty.
We landed in the UK mid June, travelled to Wales and central England without crashing into anything (did you read my last blog?). Not having grown up with cousins close by - there is something about seeing those who are related to you in person that just makes you want to hug, squeeze and generally mob them. Noting that we speak often to our kids about their personal purple circle of space, this little guy was nothing but a love magnet.
After a marathon event of packing and getting things ready for our big trip, the UK allowed us a moment to breath. The pinch me moments showed up on our first few days as we allowed ourselves to realization that we were not only travelling right now...but for the next 12 months!
Traveling with my parents was equally exhilarating. They are both vibrant, active and generally have a schedule that typically requires advance reservations. To have them all to myself for 2.5 whole weeks was incredible!
The agenda was plentiful, the time with family was truly amazing and only now looking back on the photographs are we realizing everything that we got up to! Dinners out, family time, beach and phenomenal (too hot for the locals apparently) weather we found that our time in the UK was pretty darn awesome. Photos were aplenty - posts to come!
Then it was time to pack up once gain. And this time, what better way to say bon voyage than do it over and over again!? In an effort to thwart London traffic "I'll get you before you get me!" Tony and I decided that I would do the airport run with him going back to Canada one day before I needed to do the same run the next day with the girls. Practice makes perfect! The Sunday morning of, Tony and I set off for a beautiful country lane drive (note, I had two weeks of left hand swervey fast driving under my belt - I was feeling Grand Prix ready people!!) and headed to Gatwick airport.
2.5 hours later and boom! Into the parkade, left hand and all, no problem. ' I have so got this' I chanted to myself. Little did I know what was in store for me Monday morning. If fate could have been chuckling it would, scratch that..it was howling. Oh bless that Canadian Swiss English Woman...she has NO IDEA.
Suffice it to say, that Monday morning London traffic is more than a thing, it is a behemoth. A big grid locking, soul sucking, iPhone confusing, sat nav destroying monster! With fangs. That doesn't move, or budge, not even a little...even when you say please. Over and over....and over.
I honestly don't remember what time we arrived at the airport as most of the trip in the car has been wiped from my memory banks - kind of like childbirth - no wonder I have two kids. Speaking of two kids - I remember they were great. They did their thing and somehow I managed mine and we got there, despite the frantic "NO...WE CAN'T STOP TO PEE!!! THE LONDON BOHEMOTH WON'T LET US!!"
Once in London - the kids and I took a quick flight that had us firmly landed in Switzerland at the beginning of July, because nothing says crazy than parents separated by an ocean to get things started in a new country. Greeted by a familiar face, with flowers and it took all my poised, coiffed self not to melt into a puddle right there and then. Being driven 'home' to our mountain chalet, I melted into the seat knowing that a part of all the hard work had paid off. We got here. There was still So. Much. To Do, but we were here. It is also where I like to say that my tour guide training started. Though it was more drab than fab as I am certain that daily tours of the immigration, passport, train station ticket counter, apartment hunting, legal department are not the top of people's travel lists. Coveted or not, my story telling techniques did not one bit help get us to the front of the line ever when at the various government offices, even when I pulled out my impressive modern miming performances - as if my language skills weren't enough. Apparently, according to my kids, what comes out of my mouth is French but my hands and arms gesticulate as if they are full fledged Italian. I wouldn't stand beside me when I speak - it could be dangerous. My full body verbal skills DID, however, garner several laughs - scratch that...'ALWAYS' generate laughter, typically at my expense rather than with me. Despite being shown the life lesson over and over, I manage to continuously trip over my sentences, ask for the wrong documents and quite adeptly not know what I am applying for. The amount of incredulous "Mais Madama...pourquoi ne saviez-vous le pas? / But Why madame do you not know this?" has literally become somewhat of a personal mantra for me. You don't want to know. Rest assured I leave behind me a trail of 'oh my god who is that woman?'
Truthfully, the rollercoaster of emotions, the ups swept up with the downs mired with my gesticulating Italian hand gestures makes even my stomach rumble with distaste. Knowing full well that this trip would be one of wonder, awe and likely punctuated by foul language and frustration, the intellectual side of you never really readies you for what you will go through. The learning curve is steep, you realize just HOW big IKEA really is, that you love the little kid who holds your child's hand on the first day of school and wonder almost out loud if public hugging of said child would be ok, and that laughing at yourself is the best way to make your own new pals. You realize that you have to say YES to a lot more than you might otherwise, that a village is everything, and that you say a small prayer of thanks for each and every person who lends a hand...because this isn't something you can do alone.
And then there are the kids - their own little bodies tired from the change, not knowing what comes next and generally feeling unbalanced, their own internal dialogues add to the chaos and shift the balance off center HARD forcing everyone to just stop. And in our case...at times this shows up in the form of an IKEA shopping cart...other times them hiding under beds or behind the occasional bathroom door. Either way, if I was to make an analogy it is like running full steam ahead in pitch black feeling pretty good about yourself and then hitting a brick wall when you least expect it. BAM!
In 10 weeks we have completed changed our day to day. From big city living to sightseeing along vast welsh beaches and classical English countrysides to closing our eyes to the sight of the Swiss Alps every night before we go to sleep....we haven't quite caught up to ourselves either it would seem.
We are now in our new home. Despite all the odds being favourable stacked AGAINST us, we managed by the grace of something bigger than ourselves, (I would like to think that my full body verboseness had something to do with it) being permitted to own keys to an apartment in our desired village for the year. Note this didn't happen without a lot of help from both sides of the Atlantic, suggestions and the more than occasional sideways glance suggesting we look elsewhere that I either ignored or just smiled and laughed my way through figuring it to be nothing more than a special cultural kindness reserved just for me. When we got the phone call that the apartment that was on the top of our list was ours....I was just a little dumb struck too.. OMG...it...worked.
One more hurdle sorted it was time to furnish said apartment - and all I have to say is IKEA. Thank the lord for the organized chaos that it presents with all over the world. Kind of like coming home, same exhaustive feelings of small space living, different country. But here...they deliver. 'nuff said. What I have learned through this experience, however, is that Swiss IKEA building parties are a thing. If I truly want to initiate that red little passport book and not look completely out of place, I need both a tool box that allows for quicker said IKEA building - because it isn't a party until someone wins the race, and an electrical degree. There are no light fixtures in Swiss apartments. NONE. I. have. so. much. to. learn.
If that wasn't enough, we had exactly 1.5 weeks from said moving date to get our school selves ready. Yes, there I did it. I said the 'S' word. I kept it for last - and it was a doozy and hold a special place in our heart and this blog so I won't spill any of the spoilers for you - a post to come soon! Tony who has continued to do the back and forth to Canada, finishing up work and shlepping all our worldly belongings over to us here we had to get ready for the inevitable learning that was about to happen for our littles. Thank goodness...the start of school without a full on 1:1 kiddo to adult ratio was going to be next to impossible.
And so rounds out the time to now. We've been gone for 10.5 weeks. I still have my sanity, I introduce Tony as our personal family sherpa bringing things one trip at a time over from Canada and helping to get our feet under us here in Switzerland.
We are 10.5 weeks richer in experiences, family chaos and togetherness that I wouldn't change for the world. Slowing it down to bring it back to centre...to our now this is where we are at.