Thursday, August 30, 2001

Diary 1 - 9/30/2001

(with appologies to Simon and Garfunkel)
Many's the time I've been mistaken, and many times confused
Yes and I've often felt forsaken, and certainly misused
Ah but I'm alright, I'm alright, I'm just weary thru my bones
Still you don't expect to be bright and bon-vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

After weeks of activity and months of planning, our family is on the plane. *The Plane*. Despite the travel we have done lately, this definitely feels different. Partly because all the other trips have had a "home base" - sort of an emotional ace-in-the-hole. You always knew that, no matter how rainy it was in Cancun or how small the hotel in Brussels, you were coming home eventually to familiar sights and sounds. Now I have what I guess is the "Lech Lecha" feeling - what I imagine Avram and Sarai felt as they wandered away from the city, from everything they knew, into the unknown. Yes, I'm sure that's an over-used cliche, and I know it is an over-dramatization. And inaccurate, to boot. We are going from a relatively small city in the US to one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the world. But the feeling is there none-the-less and needs to be acknowledged at least once.

And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered or driven to its knees
But it's alright, it's alright, for we live so well, so long
Still, when I think of the road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong, I can't help it I wonder what's gone wrong

Having moved a few times, this still has dwarfed anything we ever undertook. Each move in the past was a series of sense-memories. *We* packed the boxes, so we knew where to find things. Now, it's not just the question of "which box is the potatoe peeler in?", there's also the question of "did we tell them to pack the potatoe peeler, and did they put it on the right truck?". The amount we have learned about culture already, both Swiss and corporate, is astounding. Just understanding the "right" way to frame a question or a request has taken time. And, of course, we know now what we should have known when we started, and are that much worse for the wear. But every other traveler has done this, so we're sure we didn't foul up the process too badly. Although Leon is certain that, at this very moment, a loud party is going on in in the Nestle USA Human Resources department (grin).

And I dreamed I was dying, I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me, smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying, and high up above my eyes could clearly see
The statue of liberty, sailing away to sea, and I dreamed I was flying

We spent the last few days meeting with friends and family. For those who were able to take time and get together with us, we are truly and deeply grateful. For those who we missed, it just means owe us one and you'll have to come out to Switzerland to pay us back!

Getting on the plane was an adventure in itself. As we waited to board, the attendant announced the plane would be "going into maintenance" and that it might be an hour or more, and the plane might not fly again today, and if we had connecting flights we ought to go down to the service desk to get an alternate plane (oh no! Not again!!). The noise of stampeding feet was deafening!

This noise was topped moments later as everyone came back. The plane was miraculously fixed (or more likely, never broken) and everyone was allowed to get on board. Personally, I think it was just a creative way for Continental to help its passengers avoid deep-vein thrombosis. 'One last run around the track, folks, and then we'll let you get on!"

But we come on a ship they called Mayflower
We come on a ship that sailed the moon
We come in the ages' most uncertain hours and sing an American tune
And it's alright, oh it's alright, it's alright, you can be forever blessed
Still tomorrow's gonna be another working day and I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying, to get some rest

It's now two days later, and we have settled in to the point where we can finish this email and move on. The trip was relatively un-eventful. We made all our connections and arrived in Geneva at 9:30am Friday morning. A 40 minute drive brought us to the temporary apartment in Pully, a small village that is part of the larger city of Lausanne. Think of it as "Euclid is a small village that is part of Cleveland".

Unpacking was, and continues to be, a chore. We got most of the cloths out the day we arrived, but things like extra toiletries and school supplies are waiting for Sunday (tomorrow) when we have nothing planned.

Our first Shabbat was quiet, and somewhat somber. I think the echos of all the Shabbats we had shared with friends and family were still fresh in our minds, and the knowledge of the distance separating us from them just a bit too present.

Saturday morning we woke around 10:00am (still 4:00am to us) and our first task was to shop for some much-needed supplies. We found a Migros (one of the larger supermarket chains) nearby, and picked up what we needed. We also had to get some final school supplies, which meant a trip deeper into the heart of Lausanne.

We got some (relatively vague) directions to "Place de St. Francois" - not hard to miss once they said "just look for the enormous cathedral". Once we found it, and a place to park, we hiked about 2 miles (all uphill) to "Lion d'Ore". This is a store that sells 1) makeup; 2) pharmeceutecals; 3) art supplies. "3 great products that go great together!"

Of course, as we left, it started to rain (again. It's set to rain all week, and drop down to the 50's. Just great since we hardly brought any warm cloths with us) so we ran (downhill all the way) to the car.

By the time we got back to the apartment, we had just enough time for a quick bite, then we were off again to meet with some other Solon-Nestle-Expats for dinner. This was a great time for us, since they had kids to play with our kids, and they've only been here for a few months so they still remembered what we are going through now.

The evening lasted until 11:00pm, when we finally decided that we might have to camp out if we stayed longer. About 40 minutes later, everyone was tucked warmly in their beds, and I was free to type this letter. Of course, sending it is an entirely different issue. 2 days has allowed my inbox to fill with 168 emails, which need to be sorted and dealt with eventually. Eventually. But not tonight.

We will talk to you all very soon.

Leon, Debbie, Heather, Isabelle, and Joram

PS: For those who would like to call, the apartment phone number is: 41-21-729-8027. Please remember that we are 6 hours *ahead* of Cleveland time, and that we don't have an answering machine set up yet.

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