What A Long Strange Trip

Going home, coming home and everything in between.

I am finally back in Munich after nearly three weeks away and trying to relax away the restlessness that stems from another whirlwind tour and some upcoming changes in my life.

First stop was Basel for a few days of work before my flight to JFK. The trip over was uneventful. I was looking forward to a three day weekend, just about in time for my father's birthday. We had a lovely day on the coast of CT, posted below.

My father and I spent a day at my grandparent's catching up and I was as amused as always that the drama never ends. I won't go into the details but wayward bank charges and a possible new front door rip off scam were topics we covered exhaustively and excitedly throughout the afternoon.

On Sunday I drove to NY for my first training session on Monday morning. It went off without a major hitch and then I had a couple of days for normal work from NY and back at my parents.

I had time for visit with my other grandparents and stocked them up with raviolis from a good kitchen nearby. I was somewhat concerned when I knocked on my grandfathers door and he looked at my without any sign of recognition. 'who are you?' he asked. My heart dropped through the floor and when he saw my face he broke into a big smile and a wink. Grandpa!

THe week was a parody of what should of been and what was with missed flights, construction traffic jams and feisty client challenging everything they were being asked to do. It also felt like a review of my life. I saw the Jeweled Concrete house in Philadelphia, spent a day in Virginia bringing back memories of trips down to the Outer Banks, 6 years of graduate school, marriage and divorce, a day in Delaware where I had my first client in my current job and my life started to move off the beaten path and some days in CT with my parents and grandparents.

Upon arriving back to work in the middle of last week, I realized rather sadly, that a phase of my life in Europe is drawing to a close. I have been working in Basel for a year and a half. With the completion of our work in the region and shift to North and South America a number of people are leaving the project (who want to work regionally) or are relocating over to Brazil or the US. I am one of a small group who will remain in Basel.

A number of our colleagues from the US and Brazil are over in Basel this week so we had quite a critical mass. So on Thursday night we had an enormous party to commemorate the leavings, comings and to celebrate our most recent milestone. We had a happy hour on the Rhine and then a nice walking tour of Basel city. The tours were offered in German and English and one of the other Americans and myself decided to test our knowledge and take the German tour, with many whoops and hollers from all the Germans & Swiss who were proud of us for trying.

Then it was off to a lovely dinner at Restaurant Spillman. We rented out the whole restaurant to ensure we didn't disturb anyone else. After dinner we gathered around the bar, which oddly had the choice only of the Grateful Dead or Buena Vista Social Club for music, and the night drifted along beside the Rhine with high spirits and many laughs. I guess another strange aspect of my job is that you can't help but become good friends with people, being out of town all the time and under the constant stress you need a release valve, and nobody understands better than your colleagues.

There are a few I will miss more than others, and none more than S., a girl I met on my frist day in Basel from the London office. The sentiment was echoed as at various points in the evening we had S. chants to send her off. S.! S.! S.! You could always count on the mischievous S. to get everyone out of a funk and laughing in the face of the tough times. We will keep in touch as I have with many of my former colleagues over the last 6 years but Basel will be lonelier.

In the meantime, I have decided to reposition myself as a Munich based resource for the immediate future in response to a good offer from my company. For the last year and a half I was still based out of Boston while working in Switzerland. This move has opened a can of worms with work permits, taxes, health insurance, and the loss of my vacation days. At least it will keep me busy for the summer.

So, here's looking to the start of a new era and a bright sunny summer.

Posted from Munich


Carol said...

Best of luck as you move onward and forward.

I'm curious what industry you work in that allows such a fascinating life?!


Schokolade Madchen said...

Willkommenes Haus und Viel Glück!

Ola said...

Congrats on the switch - must be nice knowing you're so settled in now that you can act as based off Europe now, you've passes the 'new comer' stage as it is! :-)

J said...

I guess it must be hard to get used to really saying goodbye to the US by being based in Munich. Heath insurance and work permits should be no problem since you'll be working for the same company, I assume. Loss of vacation days? You should get 30 the day you officially start for Munich. Did you have more than that before?

Funny that you'll be based in Munich but still be working in Basel. Is there a chance you'll get to actually work full time in Munich too? Was one of the reasons you're staying on in Basel because of your relationship?

Sorry for so many questions, but this is a big life change and I'm interested. Feel free not to answer any you don't want to.

Un-Swiss Miss said...

It sounds like great news! Does that mean there's no more back-and-forth between Munich and Basel?