Saturday, March 14, 2009

Community

Have I mentioned yet on here that I cry at the drop of a hat? Well, I do. I manage not to do it in public, but in private...

This made me cry every time it came on TV during the year before I left the States to come to Switzerland. Yes, I know it is just a commercial. But try to forget about that for awhile.




Then, last Friday, Les Enfoir├ęs did their annual charity concert on TF1. I only got to see the first song before the university firewall cut my access (darn firewall!), but it, too, made me cry. (The people in this video are not Les Enfoir├ęs... couldn't find a video of their version with decent sound.)



I moved around a lot as a kid. I went to 8 different schools from kindergarten to 12th grade (and I skipped 7th grade, too!) I've been to three different universities in three different countries. I've only lived in 9 different cities (again, spread across three countries, plus two states), but I moved 15 times (give or take a few -- it's hard to keep count once you've run out of fingers) between the ages of 9 and 22. You do the math.

In some of these places I managed to fit in; in most I didn't. I am not in touch with anyone I went to elementary, middle or high school with. I am not in touch with anyone I worked with during my year off in Texas (and trust me, I have absolutely no desire to be!)

It wasn't until almost a year after I moved here that I realized I wanted to stay. It came to me one spring night as I walked out of the train station and into town after returning from a trip to Italy. All of a sudden, it felt like I was home. And the feeling hasn't faded since then... if anything, I grow even more convinced with each passing day that this is where I'm meant to stay.

Building a life here isn't exactly simple, though -- even if you ignore the fact that the Swiss government and the average Swiss citizen don't want me to be able to stay here. (It's especially amusing to hear half-Swiss people complain about foreigners being allowed to immigrate here -- after all, they wouldn't exist if their foreign-born parent hadn't been allowed to stay in the country! And it's even more amusing when said half-Swiss people have foreign-born spouses hoping to apply for citizenship someday... oh, the irony.) The 2 1/2 years I've spent here count for nothing when it comes to the 10-plus year process of gaining citizenship. They don't even count towards a permanent residence permit...

That's frustrating, but that's not what really gets to me. What really gets to me is flying in at the airport and not having anyone happily waiting to greet me. Being alone on my birthday because everyone is always out of town over the Christmas holidays... and because I'm just not important enough to anyone here yet to be worth staying in town for. Not having a place of my own yet, and therefore not being able to easily invite the people I care about to come over and spend time with me.

It takes a long time become a member of a community. I'm not a patient person at all. But I'm incredibly determined, and I've waited 25 years to get this far, so what's a few years more?

That's what I'm trying to tell myself, at least.

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