They’re letting me stay

November 28th, 2008

I don’t often blog specifically about being an expat; I’m not sure why. There are a few reasons, I guess. I moved to Switzerland in December of 2000 – the classic “fish out of water” “American puts foot in mouth” stories happened years ago (and oh, how they did happen). I’m not currently in a language class so I don’t have weekly reminders of maddening German gramatics. And, frankly, my German is pretty good and I finally, after years in the wilderness, understand Swiss-German* so there aren’t even a lot of “lost in translation” stories.

I am not blind to the joys of Swiss life and the beautiful things that surround me. I still stop in my tracks when I walk to the Old Town by way of the train station, something I do almost every day, and stare at the panorama of the Bernese Alps spread out before me. I still think, often, I can’t believe I get to live here. But my days are just days like everybody else’s: filled with taking care of the kids and the house and doing the laundry and writing a poem. It’s life. It’s my life and I don’t spend a lot of time feeling like an expat. I don’t spend a lot of time feeling like an Ausländerin. I am. I am a foreigner technically, legally, but this is my home. I feel at home here; I am at home here. There aren’t so many expat stories, anymore, when one wakes up in the place one belongs.

Ah, but yesterday I needed to renew my C-Pass, my permanent residency permit. Ah, I thought. An expat story. A Swiss Bureaucracy story. Except it wasn’t, really. It was thoroughly un-blog-worthy. I went, I took my number, I handed over my documents, I got a new C-Pass. The whole thing took just under an hour  – and would have taken less time than that but for my forgetting** to bring a picture and having to run back home to get one – and I left with a C-Pass valid until 2013. And not much of a story. But when you’re dealing with the bureaucracy that lets you stay or makes you go, I guess not much of a story is a good thing.

So there it is, my non-story story. I’m staying. Which was totally never in doubt anyway.

* insert standard caveat “as spoken by Bernese Swiss over 16 and under 60” here.

** By “forgetting” I mean they failed to indicate anywhere on my official form that a new picture would be required this time around.