My Swiss Life (post 3)

February 24th, 2012

Today was Kinderfasnacht in Bern (Carnival for children; tomorrow is Carnival for the grown-ups); I took the boys for the children’s parade, and in a crowd estimated at nearly five thousand we ran into people we know twice and saw several more families with whom we’re on nodding terms. It happens more and more – I see people I know when the boys and I go skating in our free time, I run into people in the city or in the near-by shopping center.

It never ceases to amaze me how long it has taken me to feel like I have a life here; a Swiss life; a life of my own. I thought it last night when I was on the ice for the hockey school, in charge of the pick-up hockey end of the rink for the first time. (All the little ones can skate now, and I got a chance to see some of the older kids in action.) I love being on the ice at hockey school – all my hand-wringing seems so ridiculous to me now – and I am comfortable in the role of Trainerin and I genuinely enjoy my fellow trainers. After the Saturday hockey school – which runs right over lunchtime – we all go to the restaurant after the practice and eat something and have some beer (there’s more beer associated with hockey school than I expected; it’s fun) and it’s nice.

Some of it is the boys – people kept telling me that as the Small Boy got older he would be the wedge opening the door to Swiss life and certainly I’ve seen the truth in that. A lot of it is the hockey, and I think the reason the hockey is working so well for me is that, yes, it’s an activity that I’m involved in because of the boys but I got the boys involved in hockey because it was an activity that had been, for a long time, a big part of my life. So I don’t feel as though I’m being dragged hither and yon by my kids’ interests but that I’m being reintroduced to something I had forgotten that I missed.

And a lot of it is the job, and although the job is hockey related I suspect it would be much the same with any job, because here is something I have learned: friends are important, friends are essential, but I have come to the conclusion that colleagues are just as important. Having work colleagues I see twice a week has added to my life enormously in ways I would never have guessed. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had work colleagues, and I didn’t even realize I was missing it until I started working at the hockey school and suddenly there it was: “Oh. Wait. So this is what it’s like to ┬áreally feel like I fit in here.” Before, I’d always figured I was integrated, and I was in all the surface ways, but this feels different. This is past integrated, this is enmeshed. This is having Swiss-speaking friends who did not come through my husband. This is being expected to show up at places, and being missed when I don’t.

It took so little – yet so much – and I feel like life here has finally settled into place. It amazes me how long it took. It amazes me more that it is only in retrospect that I see that I was never really settled in the first place. That this, with these small changes, feels like a different life. A real life. My real Swiss life. Finally.

(Previous Swiss life posts can be found here and here)