Expat Holes and Imaginary Quilting

A friend posted a picture on Facebook of one of these sculptures this week.


And I just thought, 'wow, this is exactly how it feels to be an expat'.  Have you left a little of you behind or are you picking up pieces as you go?  I'm not one hundred percent sure and my answer today may be different than it was 12 or 18 months ago but today I feel like I'm picking pieces up as I go.

Yesterday, I went to an English Tea hosted by two friends; one of whom did the baking and the other the decorating as well as offering up her charming shop as tea party central.  It was such as fun blend of people.  Lately, for me, traveling is all about who you are going to meet, not necessarily the landmarks, although beautiful. I already know that someday when I think back to my time in Switzerland, it is not going to be memories of the Alps or the lakes that will come first, it will be the friends I've met along the way.  This diverse group of people that I keep adding to every day.  And when I leave, I will leave a piece of me behind.

Photo credit: Caroline Caruso Photography

Maybe when you're born, you are just a plain, stretched canvas waiting for a few paint strokes. And each experience, each emotion, brings a new color.  Some people might prefer an approach like Paul Klee, a Swiss painter who fled Nazi Germany, who preferred a definite symmetry and semblance to how the canvas fills, other might take a more Jackson Pollock approach and just thrown caution (and paint to the wind); come what may. Incidentally, Caroline is a big fan of Pollock. It's my canvas and I'm filling up.  Sometimes I think of experiences in terms of colors and wonder if I quilted what it might look like...greys for grief, greens and blues when things were calm and happy.  Bursts of orange when the extraordinary happened, like a baby or three.

So yesterday, as I found myself between two tri-athletes chatting about birthday party venues, I wondered not only about this unlikely juxtaposition but was also silently marveling at this experience as a whole. By the way, what did two tri-athletes and I find to talk about?  Well, all three of us are moms and we chatted birthday party ideas; the good ( Zurich airport offers birthday parties worth checking out http://www.zurich-airport.com/passengers-and-visitors/shopping-and-attractions/excursions-at-the-airport/children-s-parties), the bad- taking a bunch of 8 year olds to a movie, and the ugly- an outdoor party scheduled and it rains).

But if I were cutting out squares for my imaginary quilt, yesterday would have called for a squares of pink and yellows. 


  1. I love this, Jennifer! I too just saw a lot of these sculptures on Facebook all of a sudden, but didnt make the connection. Excellent comparison! And I agree - places are nice to see, but the memories you cherish most are those of the people you've met along the way.


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