Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not an ending...

Wow. I think this will be my last post as a resident of Switzerland. Which means I've been writing here for just over 5 years. It doesn't seem that long ago. Really. It's gone by so fast and yet I feel we've really savored our time.

However - I won't stop writing here. I'll keep the name for the time being. The book "The Art of Coming Home" by Craig Storti explains the reason for this well:

"One of the most common complaints of returnees (to their home country) is how little interest the people back home show in their experiences, including close relatives and friends......This might not matter so much if you had just come back from a week in the countryside or at the beach, but you have been halfway around the world, seen places and done things these people will never see and do, and you've been gone three or four (5!) years besides. There's a lot to catch people up on.
Catching up is probably too simple a phrase to describe what's going on here. The point of telling your stories, after all, is not because you want to show off or because you crave attention but becaust you realize that you are now something of a stranger to friends and loved ones back home. You have been changed significantly by your experiences, and unless you can tell people about them, how can they know this new person who has come back to them?.........When you can't tell your stories, you are in effect obliged to remain a stranger to the people you love. The keen sense of loneliness many returnees experience upon reentry comes from this feeling that close friends and relations no longer know who they are."

That describes the feelings we have about coming back/visiting well and why the Blog has been so important. You see, I've had a chance to tell my/our stories. Yes, much of it has been from my perspective but I tend to be the one that doesn't say alot in person unless someone really wants to hear it. I know those who are really interested and who have time/computer, have looked at the Blog. We talk regularly to the parents/others who don't.

So the strangeness of our life here is not an issue so much as there are days we just won't feel like we quite fit in. We experience it every trip home. We've changed, home has changed. Our family and friends have also changed. In different ways and for different reasons.

We look forward to being closer in proximity to the changes of life.

That excerpt also explains why we will continue to use SwissFamilyOlson - it's part of us now. I would never take that piece of us away. Maybe I'll change the title someday. Maybe not.

We fly out the day after tomorrow and still have a full schedule. I might get time to post something about the weekend (goodbye's at church, R got baptized, etc....) but right now am smack dab in the move - sourrounded by boxes and men packing my kitchen......eeeeck!

I leave with another excerpt. This time from a book called Bloomability by Sharon Creech. This is a required reading for the 5th graders going into 6th grade at the International School here. Setting is an International school in Lugano, Switz. and the protagonist is a middle schooler who's flying home to the USA at the end of the year:

"And then I was waving them good-bye, and walking down the ramp, and I was sitting in my seat, and the plane was taking off, and I was sitting there looking out the window like a civilized person, not screaming my head off that we were going to die. I looked down on Switzerland, on the mountain peaks, and I wondered how Grandma Fiorelli felt when she left Italy all those many years ago. Maybe Grandma Fiorelli would come back to Switzerland with me some day, and we’d both go to Italy, to Campobasso, and we’d both feel right at home.

Soon I could no longer see Switzerland or any land at all. I was over the ocean, miles high, and I started thinking about Bybanks, wondering what it would look like and how it would smell and how it would feel to see my mother and father and Stella and the baby again, and how soon Crick might come home. Bybanks. What would I find in Bybanks? It would be an opportunity, I told myself. A new life."

The names, circumstances and places might change for each Expat returning home but I think the feeling is the same. It hits home for me.



Susan said...

Hi Susan, so glad to read that you'll keep the blog going, and keep it Swiss :-) Can't wait to read about the next chapter.

I have some photos and the card from the Bible Study ladies -- so I'm going to drop it off at the counter of the hotel.

Sending many hugs and prayers your way.

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

I'm glad you're keeping the Swiss theme too. I will still look forward to reading your adventures--you have such an interesting family. (And not in the bad-interesting way!)

The first quote you put in here nearly made me cry because it's so how I feel even when I travel. Coming home is so different, even after being gone for a week or two. Also, some significant friendships have changed for me over the past few years, and I have felt like a stranger to some people I once loved. That quote seemed to sum up the changes perfectly. Thanks for sharing these.

Makila said...

I was hoping you were going to keep blogging. I would miss hearing from you. I hope your move and transition is smooth. Love to you.

Judy said...

I'm glad you have read "The Art of Coming Home". We still experience the disinterest and have learned to discern which person is generally interested and who is just asking polite questions, not really wanting an answer. It can be a little heart breaking sometimes, I admit. I think my family thinks we were just on a vacation for three years. We grew so much in ways that caused us to draw more healthy boundaries and they do not like that we changed.
Also, glad to be able to keep reading your blog. :)

Linds said...

Oh, how I identify! When I go back to South Africa, my friends say I sound different. Foreign. And yet, here where I have lived for 21 years now, I am still foreign. Do I belong? Where? Thankfully, I am a part of a huge diaspora of South Africans who left SA as students or shortly afterwards. I am not alone. And what I feel is mirrored by so many of my friends.
Different. Not different is not all bad. So many stories to tell which remain untold, except for the blog. It is wonderful to know you will keep writing, and for those who have experienced the same uprooting, it will be a familiar path you walk. But there is so much to look forward to! More, and new adventures. For me, though, you will always be the Swiss Family Olson!

Hi! It's me, Julie! said...

I was thinking of the symbolism of unplugging your modem and then replugging in a new land. Lots of unplugging and replugging both real and symbolic, huh? I love your story and am so glad I got to visit you in your Swiss home because it's imprint is in my mind and heart forever, too! You're in my prayers as always, Susan! Hugs to all!

Katherine said...

What great quotes. How neat that you were reading books about your transition. That's smart. I'll have to remember do that if I ever move back. You're very inspiring. xo