Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Second Chances

Original art adorns the walls of our new flat.

It comes with an espresso machine. Yes, this is even nicer than our real home!

This antique secretary chest has been in our landlord's family for over one hundred years.

When I first learned that our Zurich move would become a reality, excitement and new worries occupied my thoughts. Surprisingly, I wasn’t concerned that English is not a primary language here (although I should have been, see above), nor did I fear dirty diapers or the ‘terrible twos.’ Instead, I was terrified that we wouldn’t make any friends. This fear drove me to sign up for a number of Yahoo groups (sorry, Goog) for English speaking Zurichers who share interests. I was thrilled to discover that one group dines out together every month at different restaurants in Zurich. You don’t need to use hiking or any type of exercise as an excuse to go out with these people; you just show up and eat. Yes, this is my kind of club.

Upon skimming the long list of Zurich Yahoo groups, I found myself gravitating toward some unusual (for me) links. You’re offering a board game club? I’m there. You say pie of the month club, and I’ll even run the thing. But when you say Stitch and Bitch, a local group that meets to knit and chat, you’ve really got me thinking. I’ve never created a handicraft that I didn’t later want to chuck out the window, but this Stitch and Bitch group intrigued me. Was this the 2007 version of the quilting bee? Fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books will recall that quilting bees involve knitting socks for soldiers and the menfolk, embroidering linens for one’s trousseau, and most importantly, swapping juicy morsels of gossip. If these were the sewing circles of old, how do today’s women stitch and bitch? I envision modern women seated not in the pews of a local church, but instead comfortably gathered at a friendly Starbucks, knitting scarves for their children while sipping lattes. It sounds like fun.

After actually signing up for some of these mailing lists, I realized that many similar groups probably exist at home in the bay area. If I had always wanted to join a book club or learn how to knit, why did I wait until I moved to Switzerland to do so? The answer lies in the fact that we have been granted the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only do we get to experience European life in one of its most beautiful cities, we also get to do things that we would never dream of at home. Though there is nothing wrong with being an au pair, I would never consider nannying full time in the US. Here, however, working as an au pair meets my needs to a tee and has opened the realm of possibility in other areas of my life. If I can start a new job in a new country, then joining book clubs and knitting should be small potatoes to me.

Maybe that is what Mickey was thinking when he started a conversation with a Swiss couple at a “Mexican” restaurant the other night. We don’t usually initiate conversations with strangers at home, but with fresh confidence, the clean Swiss sky is the limit.

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