On Challenging Commutes

Unsere Expat-Bloggerin widmet sich diese Woche der Frage, wie man mit grossen Ereignissen in seiner Heimatstadt umgehen soll – alles stehen und liegen lassen und anreisen, oder fernbleiben und beleidigte Freunde und Verwandte in Kauf nehmen? Dear Auntie SAM: What do you do when big things happen to people you love back home while you […]

Fortunately, I remembered to pack my chicken bones.

Unsere Expat-Bloggerin widmet sich diese Woche der Frage, wie man mit grossen Ereignissen in seiner Heimatstadt umgehen soll – alles stehen und liegen lassen und anreisen, oder fernbleiben und beleidigte Freunde und Verwandte in Kauf nehmen?

Dear Auntie SAM: What do you do when big things happen to people you love back home while you live abroad?

When I first set out on my own, I moved to a town 1500 km away. But I had forgotten to pack my common sense. So nearly every month – sometimes multiple times in one month – I’d spend my weekend driving 14 hours one way back to my hometown to attend to a problem or a happy event involving someone I loved.  
 
After a few years of this, I attached a small trailer to my little Ford Escort & drove west to Seattle. There were moments driving through the desolate Dakotas that I felt certain I’d run out of gasoline or never find a place to sleep. In my sleepless haze, I imagined running out of both only to be found months later expired along the roadside.

Somewhere over the Rockies my car slowed to a crawl, shook, & struggled to drag my young life’s accumulation through the mountain passes. Fearing, once again, a desperate life – though, this one spent foraging & hiding from bears – I pulled into the nearest town & gave most of my things to an Indian reservation.

By the time I pulled into Seattle, I had driven through all that plus a broken tail-light, a flat tire, a cold night sleeping in my car, & a jack-knifed trailer. Not to mention gas station cuisine.

The first time a loved one from back home asked me to return to help them, I knew distance & the mountains prohibited that. I did not know yet that their request was unreasonable. I only knew then that my car & even my fortitude just didn’t have it in us to continue saving the world.

Some of my friends & family were very upset with me for that. They begged. They whined. They bargained. Some practically lay face first on the kitchen floor & pounded fists while screaming, «Then you don’t love me!»

But the more I stood my ground, built my life – especially an emotional life – for myself in Seattle, the more I thanked the heavens for creating the Rocky Mountains. 

Almost five years after my arrival in Basel, the question, «Did you come to Basel for love or money?» now sounds to me the same as if an adult asked me whether Santa Claus is real. There are so many reasons expats come to Basel. Sometimes, part of the reason can only be defined as the moment the world created the ways in which you can choose to live for you.  

If you come here yet still believe your emotional obligations & satisfactions are not here, then you will be setting yourself up for a very expensive commute. Moreover, you probably are not doing your relationships a service. And, you are not really living here.

That is not to say you shouldn’t love the people you loved back home. You should love them just as passionately as before; some even more, because they’ll learn to grow with your life’s path, just as you will grow with theirs. Part of that growth requires letting them have their emotions while you embrace your life. 

You will miss some very big events. But you will still get to celebrate your loved ones‘ joys & support them through their heartaches. Every new parent, graduate, or happy couple is more than happy to pull out the photo albums & take a walk with you down memory lane. And your loved ones who grieve will cherish a quiet moment in honor of their loss.  

Some of these moments are going to be even more valuable after the big event, when life turns back to routine yet the grievers or the new parents are still learning to cope.

Your loved ones want you at their event not just to be present in their photo album, but because they feel an emotional connection to you. So the best you can do – in whichever magical, mystical world you awake – is to take care of yourself, be as present & true to your loves as possible, & allow each of you to become who you were meant to be … where you’re meant to be.
 
You’ll be surprised who stays with you, and how.
 
XO

AS

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This weekend GO BACK IN TIME with two parties to make you wish the days of BIG HAIR would go RETRO. FRIDAY: celebrate the 90’s at CAN’T TOUCH THIS & SATURDAY: get your 80’s on at GLITTER GWITTER. Both at BALZ. 11PM. FREE.

Or go WAAAAY BACK to the 50’s at the OLDTIMER IM WALZWERK VINTAGE DANCE PARTY. Vintage AUTOS, GRILL, PHOTOS, CLOTHES, & SWING DANCING. Oldtimer Verein Walzwerk, Tramstrasse 66, Münchenstein. 10AM – 5PM FREE. SWING LESSONS at 7PM, DANCE PARTY at 8PM. 20 CHF.    

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