Bonjour! It feels so good to be back on the blog! I’m writing this from lovely Geneva, Switzerland — our new home as of almost three weeks ago.
I’ve been ruminating on what exactly to write in this post. I have so much to say but will break down topics into different posts. Stay tuned for a future series I’m working on about everyday life here. You can be the most well traveled person in the world but living day-to-day somewhere always makes for some interesting stories! I’ll show you the behind the scenes of my trials and errors (there have been a few so far) as we navigate daily activities as well as some travel destinations that will have you booking your next flight out.
On August 18, my toddler, my husband and I hopped on a plane to start our life in Geneva.
We all go through changes in life — some are welcomed, some are grudgingly necessary, some come out of the blue and whose purpose isn’t understood until after the somersault we’re thrown into subsides.
And some changes arrive at our doorstep like an answer to fervent prayers.
I glanced down at my phone during a particularly mind-numbing meeting at work and saw my husband was calling. He never calls. Of course my first thought was something was wrong with Mason and panic overcame me. I quietly exited for my office and mentally prepared as I hit “call back.”
My husband is great at prefacing controversial conversations with “you may not like this but…”. I will never understand men. Well, I take that back. I do understand them and their simplicity can sometimes be maddening, ha! After making sure the issue at hand was not toddler-related, I then heard “you might want to sit down for this.”
I love my husband.
There was a hint of laughter in my husband’s voice so I relaxed a bit before sitting down. He then told me one of the top 5 greatest things I’ll probably ever hear. We had an opportunity to move to Geneva, Switzerland.
Giddy laughter, maybe some jumping up and down, “…but you said yes, right??!”. Thus started our journey to the Swiss life.
We had around 5 months to prep for an overseas move. Stressful? You betcha. Logistically (selling a house (oddly, the easiest part!); shipping an entire house; determining what should go in storage; job-related stuff; closing accounts/forwarding accounts; cell phone plans; setting up Internet access; what to do with pets; figuring out childcare; visas; and oh yeah, learning how to set up a life in a city we had never been to as, gulp, Americans); emotionally (were we making the right decision for Mason? would he adapt to a new life after leaving everything he’s ever known? am I prepared to leave behind my consulting career?) and mentally (adulting is hard).
After Mason was born, my husband and I plotted moving away from D.C. I’ve lived in D.C. 16 years and my husband 10. It was time to step off the gilded hamster wheel for awhile. There’s nothing like having a child to bring life into ultra-clear focus about what’s no longer working.
One sleep-deprived New Year’s Eve, we wrote down a list of places that would be feasible from a career point of view to move to. After narrowing that list down, we made the ultimate “there’s no turning back now” move — we got on Zillow. Done and done. (If you know anything about the D.C. housing market, you’ll wish you didn’t; that with daycare costs is enough to send most people running but strangely, the city is growing! And for good reason — it’s an amazing place that we hope to return to someday. Without kids in daycare.)
We were set on a town in the south and started fantasizing about the slower pace of life. One week before we planned on flying down to check out houses, my husband got the call about Geneva. How’s that for a curveball??
Fast forward to today. Geneva is a-mazing! I’ve decided to become an unofficial one-woman marketing team for this city. It’s quintessential Europe — there’s not one street without beautiful architecture, the elegant French language wafts through the air (Geneva is surrounded by France on three sides, hence, very little German spoken here), and Mount Blanc is always in view. And a tall Starbucks latte will run you $7. I mentioned quintessential Europe, right?
It’s our third week and we’re adjusting pretty well thanks to some fellow American families that are showing us the ropes. The stress that always hung around us in D.C. is almost nonexistent here. We pass sheep and tolling church bells on evening walks. People are reserved but polite and don’t rush. There are playgrounds everywhere which makes someone I know one very happy camper. So much to be said for a change of scenery!
Mason is getting used to his bilingual daycare, which he only attends in the morning, my husband is enjoying the 15 minute commute to work (we’re still in delighted shock about that), and I’m stumbling my way through adjusting from working full time to a more domesticated existence and a big TBD.
I’ve always had high expectations for myself and those expectations were often achieved during my 12-year career in consulting. But now I’m left teetering on defining a whole new life for myself that may or may not include a traditional job. I decided before we moved to reduce the pressure I put on myself to find something right away and for once, take a moment to breathe without eyeing the next rung on the corporate ladder.
Honestly, it feels great and terrifying at the same time. I’m not the type of person who does well freely drifting. I feel somewhat lost right now but I know myself well enough to know that I won’t let that feeling last forever (#typeaproblems). Picking Mason up everyday at noon, meeting up with other moms during the week days (never had a chance to do that), attempting to cook more (I know, who am I??) and putting together a home has really soothed my soul. I’ve had time to delve into my love of photography and am planning courses to take with the Geneva Photo Club later this fall. French lessons are definitely on the radar, too (“oui oui” and “merci beaucoup” will only get you so far).
It comes down to giving yourself grace during big transitions. I’m working on that. Take the pressure off yourself to create a life based on others’ expectations. Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.
And we all know it’s never about “them” anyways, right?
More from this lovely part of the world soon! Thank you so much to those following along! À bientôt!
Photo at the beginning of this post by Anna Meyer Photography, based in D.C. (@annameyerphoto)