“Everybody was expecting you” (My Swiss Life, post 2)

February 6th, 2012

(These “My Swiss Life” post are not, strictly speaking, chronological, but for anybody interested, post one can be found here.)

SB had a hockey tournament yesterday, in the blinding cold, that I had to miss. I was at the Geneva Writers’ Conference (more about that in another post). It’s only the second match I’ve ever had to miss – the only other one I missed was when SB got his concussionso I was feeling a bit superstitious about missing this, but the conference ran most of the day on Sunday; it’s only held every two years and is far too good an opportunity for an English-language writer in Switzerland to pass up, so there I was in Geneva while SB was playing in Bern.

Earlier in the week, it looked like the tournament might have to be cancelled. We, as the home team for this set of games, were responsible for coming up with two time-keepers and two referees and as of Thursday evening we were short one referee (or Schiri in Swiss – pronounced “she-ree” and short for Schiedsrichter and one of my favorite Swiss words). Thursday night we parents received a scathing e-mail from the program head – not SB’s coach, who stayed diplomatically above the fray, but the head of the program, whose job it is to make a fray when a fray must be made – that somebody better step up and volunteer to be the second Schiri or the tournament would have to be cancelled and that would be a shame for the kids and a true embarrassment for the prestigious SCB Future program. Surely not all of you have some other obligation on Sunday, right??

I would have stepped up – I teach in the hockey school, after all, and can certainly handle reffing a Bambini match and I really do want to do my part – but I had the conference and I headed off to Geneva hoping somebody would volunteer. I didn’t receive any angry emails canceling the tournament for Sunday, so I assumed the match was on – in spite of temperatures hovering at minus 15 Celcius – but on Sunday I sent off a quick SMS to R asking “So SB’s tourney is on? Tell him mama says good luck” and received this in reply:

“They are doing warmup now and will start soon. Having coffee with the others. Everybody was expecting you.”

I smiled – everybody had been expecting me. That’s where I’ve finally gotten to in my Swiss life. I have people expecting me. I’ve written before about how most of these people probably will not become friends outside of the hockey context – though possibly two or three families might – but that’s also okay. I remember my mother and the other hockey moms, winter friends, stadium friends, the way they sat together and drank their bad coffee from styrofoam cups and I think: this is good too, this locational fellowship, this contextual friendship. When I show up at SB’s practices and games, I’m welcomed, I have people to sit with and chat with, I am part of the crowd – no longer hovering around the edges – and when I don’t show up, people ask where I am. That feels like a huge thing. It’s a good thing in my life, and if it is bound my the time and space of hockey seasons and ice stadiums that’s fine. I think we all have contextual friends – work colleagues we enjoy but somehow never socialize with outside of the office, the people in our yoga or boxing classes we see every week but rarely if ever meet for lunch. And those people occupy important places in our lives, they anchor us, they make us feel as though we belong. They add texture and dimension to our lives and I’d been missing that for a long time and now, thanks to the Small Boy and his love of all things hockey (which is, at heart, thanks to me for enrolling him in the first place all those years ago), I’ve got it. And when I’m not there, people notice.

It’s a little thing, being expected. Except that it’s not really so little at all is it?

(And if you’re wondering, SB’s team won all three games and SB scored three goals.)


4 Responses to ““Everybody was expecting you” (My Swiss Life, post 2)”

  1. funkomatic on February 9, 2012 5:59 am

    To quote that most American of sources, the popular sitcom theme song: There is real truth to the lines “You want to go where people know people are all the same. You want to go where everyone knows your name”.

  2. Jennifer on February 24, 2012 9:32 pm

    You know, I finally really really get it. Never underestimate the value of acquaintances.

  3. My Swiss life (post 4) at Magpie Days on May 7, 2012 3:29 pm

    […] can read more “My Swiss Life” posts here, here, and here. Filed under My Swiss life | Comment […]

  4. Elusa on June 14, 2012 1:38 pm

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