Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sometimes you get a good experience…

…Other times you get a good story.

DSC05864 I had to smile at the quote: the author applied it to taking your chances with hotels, not making reservations before arriving in a new town.  I think it applies equally well to the opportunistic and erratic course that life takes as an expat.

‘back on the road today; on my way to Lugano to see a physician who might be able to help with my foot.  I’m not yet confident as a patient in the European health care system, but, since the surgery requires a six-week convalescence, I have to consider the impact on my life and maintaining proximity to ‘home’.  A good US physician suggested this clinic, so I’ll check it out.

I was listening to a collection of “6-word memoirs” on a podcast last week: my favorite was “Picked fourth for prom; still overcompensating.”.  It’s funny how insignificant events like that can have such resonance on through life.   I suspect that the company’s decision to dissolve the research group had similar resonance with me; close friends commented that I was similarly overdriven afterwards.

It made me smile to remember prom, too.  I was raised among brothers and was bookish in high school, not socially outgoing or comfortable with girls.  When the time came for prom, I had little interest: my mother threatened that I’d have to take her if I didn’t find a date and I called her bluff. On summer exchange to Switzerland at 17 with a mixed group (first kiss), then dropped into coed dorms in college (first overnight), the opposite gender finally started to make sense, first as friends, then as partners.  I think that I needed to see women through their day, rather than just ‘on stage’ at school, before I could relate to them comfortably as people.  I re-connected with my first girlfriend a few years ago through a high school reunion. She was iconic for me, a genuinely nice person who I dropped after a year for a fling with a shallow, flashy girl.  It didn’t last, of course, and gave me a lasting appreciation for the value of a lasting relationship like we’d had.

I’m camped at Schiphol, waiting for the EasyJet counter to open, sipping coffee, reading Christmas cards.  A bundle arrived over the weekend with ‘late arrivals’ from January, and I’m enjoying the stories.  I know that many people grumble about Christmas letters, but I happily read them all and am personally gratified when there are a few personal sentences scrawled into a margin.  Lots of people share stories of kids and vacations: there wasn’t much grumbling about the economy, and fewer people suffered personal losses this year, fortunately.  Several say they’ll be in Europe and hope to get together: unfortunately, a childhood friend, now a renowned physician, wrote to tell me he’d be in Maastricht in February if I’d like to meet.  Several have gotten new children; some have gotten religion; everyone’s kids are growing up too quickly.

And lots send “Greetings to wherever in the world you are now”.  ‘makes me smile, again, sort of.

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