It's been nearly 20 months since we left Zurich, and I'm still hoping against hope that we will fall in love with life in Spokane. You don't understand; I really want to! Right now, we are essentially living the life I dreamed of when we were in Zurich. I even wrote a post about it, back in 2012, which I remembered last night when I was trying to fall asleep. The photos are all blurry because they were just taken off of a real estate listing, but you get the idea. I thought it sounded like heaven to live in Spokane with pies cooling on windowsills, backyard grill parties with my mom and sisters and walking the kids to school through crunching leaves. Pretty much exactly what we're doing right now.
So what I'm hoping for is that it all pans out something like this: When we grow out of this little rental house in a year and a half, I hope that we will buy a home a little farther up the hill and that Coco will start kindergarten fall of 2017 at either Hutton or Wilson school. But, the truth of the matter is, this does not feel like heaven. I'm not sure it's going to work for us to leave city living behind and embrace the Spokane lifestyle we thought we wanted. I'm more than a little baffled by it all to be honest.
You know that whole saying that life is what happens while you're making other plans? Well, I think something happened to us in Zurich while we were making Spokane plans. It seems ridiculous, but while we were there, distracted by the idea of pies cooling on windowsills in Spokane, we were falling completely and totally in love with Zurich (and cooling pies on our windowsill there, something our American windowsills aren't even big enough for FYI). Looking back, I can see that there were glimmers of recognition. I remember saying to J once that I wished we were from Zurich because then our family would be there and we wouldn't have to choose between the two. But overall, we were largely unaware of what was happening.
Here's the cold hard truth: We are not from Zurich. And it looks like we are going to have to choose.
These photos are from one of the countless walks that J and Coco took during our time there. We took lots of walks all together, of course, particularly on Sundays. But their daddy-daughter walks were my time to take a nap, or go have coffee with a girlfriend, or even listen to a podcast and clean the house if it were particularly disgusting. It was their special thing. They would go hiking, or take sausages into the forest for a weenie roast, or just explore the city. Coco loved life in Zurich.
Last year, she often cried as we walked to the car, saying "I want to walk! Why can't we walk?" And now, when we're leaving for school, she still says from time to time, "I wish we could walk or take the train instead." If we buy a house up the hill, it will be a priority that they're able to walk to school. But in terms of parenting and day-to-day life, I, too, prefer the lifestyle we had in Zurich. I was under the impression that having a car would make everything easier and more enjoyable. And while I can appreciate the convenience of Costco and driving, that doesn't mean I like it. I would rather not have a car and go everywhere with the tram and buggy instead. I miss it.
All of these thoughts were swirling around in my mind before I finally succumbed to sleep last night. When I woke up this morning, I was still feeling a bit pensive about it all. Coco, Theo and I went through the motions. We all got dressed and everyone was fed; I packed Coco's lunch and we got her off to school. After we got back home, Theo and I didn't even bother coming inside. We set off on a meandering walk around the neighborhood and I was shaking it all off. It was sunny. I was feeling pretty good.
Then, I happened to see that my friend Chantal had published a new article in the Washington Post about the rough adjustment back to American life after living in Switzerland. The topic was American birthday parties. (Side note: With Coco's birthday being in September, we made the exact same mistake as Chantal. And we'll do it again next year, too!) But it wasn't the topic itself that was so upsetting, as it was the reminder of the reality we're living in now. We feel out of place and unsettled in our own country. On top of that great thing, we miss everything about our life in Zurich: city living, Swiss Sundays, the trains and trams, mommy group, no car, the lake, wonderful friends, life-work balance, everything! And yet, family is so important. I love being near my mom and my sisters and my dad's brother and my cousins and other aunts and uncles and everyone. It really is so great!
Walking along with Theo this morning, reading Chantal's article, I wanted to scream out loud! But I just cried a little bit instead. So the question is this: Does being near family make up for absolutely everything else?
I have no idea. Luckily we've got all the time we need to figure that out.