Expat mysteries

It took awhile before I had any idea what was in my Switzerland refrigerator with any degree of certainty.  The same for the pantry. Now, I'm back to my usual habits. I no longer confuse my US refrigerator contents with my Switzerland refrigerator contents. I think it was the stress of the move.  It all felt rather similar to the Summer of '04. The summer I had Caroline. I don't think I had ever been so tired in my whole life. Should have taken more pictures because I remember nothing (except for the tired and wearing flip flops straight through to October,  most likely because I couldn't  find shoes- or care, and salting my coffee and trying to shift an automatic when I hadn't driven a standard in 8 or 10 years.  Guess I remember more than I thought I did).

The first time I experienced phantom refrigerator contents,  I went to the refrigerator looking for brie. I recalled the package. I recalled buying it.  And I really wanted to eat it. I looked. And looked. Did the same thing the next day. Same results. No brie.  I texted a friend in the US.  Asked her how the brie was. Apparently it was very good. She really enjoyed it.

In the chaos of those last few days in Connecticut, I really struggled. I struggled with packing. I struggled with what to pack, how to pack, and how much to pack (never mind the big, huge giant question, "WHAT WERE WE DOING?").  Combined with prepping the house for renters, I was completely overwhelmed. 48 hours before leaving things looked pretty dismal despite having organized for several months prior.  I'd painted, cleaned, weeded, and mulched.  Got the kids to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist,  and optometrist. Sold cars. Donated cars. Rented cars. Gave away fish and forwarded mail (yes, the US postal service will forward your mail overseas for a year- despite what they might say). Paid taxes and got haircuts.  But I began to unravel those last 48 hours.

Two days prior I had tagged everything in my house; what was to be air shipped (what couldn't we live without for six weeks?), what was being shipped by sea, and what was staying. Overwhelming. The refrigerator was still full. The freezer, too. The things we weren't taking were still scattered everywhere. I was in full out panic mode.And I still had a birthday party to throw for an 8 year old.  Then I just stopped. NO. MORE

That's when a friend called. I explained and then hung up. She showed up the next morning with her mother and her mother's friend. I really wasn't in the mood to entertain anyone. They came in anyway. Put lunch on the counter.  I sat down and had a wine cooler.  Then they opened the refrigerator and started emptying it. Then the freezer. Then closets. Then bedrooms.  About eight hours later, it was done. The house was empty and organized.  Things were in their new homes or their way to new homes; including the brie.   The brie went to live in Willington in someone else's refrigerator.  It was never in my refrigerator in Switzerland. 

I think that week easily qualifies as one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Not surprised I had trouble remembering what I did with the brie.  I'm still  not sure how to explain all the people from Connecticut  I see in Switzerland- but only from the back or the side or on a crowded bus- then they're gone.  Or the mystery pants I found in my laundry.  But at least I know what happened to the brie.

I don't know what happened to Jill though. Jill was the woman I didn't know who showed up that morning.  But Jill, if you are out there, I really, really owe you some chocolates. And not just for the help that day but for the lesson about helping other people, even people you don't know.  There are some really nice chocolates here...


  1. Jennifer, moving is stressful but we manage to get through because 1. We have too and 2. We have wonderful friends and family that get us back on track and show us things will be fine. You made a unselfish choice to support your husband and kids on a wild adventure and what a gift it was :) the brie well rest assured where ever it went it was enjoyed :)
    Get an editor and write that book !!!


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