Parallel Universe

Coming home always feels like entering a parallel
universe. Real life stops. In fact, it is as if that particular real life
never existed. Routines and to-dos are forgotten. It is not exactly like being on
vacation; I just have a hard time remembering all the things that I’m supposed
to be doing – and therefore doing them.
Being in this parallel universe has its advantages. It helps me
realise that the world does not collapse when I don’t check off items on my to-do
list on a daily basis. It also allows me to take some distance and reflect on what
has happened in my life. The move was such a whirlwind of activity, stress and
intensity of emotions, that I did not have the chance to take time and think
about the implications or deal with my feelings about it – not that I had any desire to do that. Now, the idleness and complete change of scenery is somehow
forcing me to it. After several killer weeks without a break, suddenly I find
myself with plenty of time to exhale – and think.
I am thinking about surviving goodbyes. The farewell
party galore of our last week in Vienna was quite an experience. We survived
every single one of those parties; not with flying colours, but at least we made
it through. What I found strange is that none of us shed a single tear (even
if, on several occasions, I came close). I was particularly surprised by the
kids: there was a certain air of sadness on their faces after each party, but
no intense reaction; just silence. I tried to make them talk and maybe bring
out some tear-release, but the only thing I managed was to release my own tears
(thinking about my children’s predicament
makes me much sadder than thinking about my own) and have my children
– my daughter in particular – look at me with
compassion and quite a bit of surprise.
The few days we spent
in Zurich were not much different in terms of getting any reactions out of them.
They were so excited with their new home – their rooms, the garden – that they were too busy to think about what they left behind. We were all too
occupied with unpacking and settling in to start any difficult conversations.
Now that we are away
from all that – the goodbyes, the farewell presents, the exchange of emails and
Skype addresses, the unpacking and settling-in – they start to
process what happened. They mention the move and our new life in Zurich almost
on a daily basis. It is dawning on them
that the move is not reversible, at least not in the short term. My daughter
told me yesterday, while we were at the playground, that Zurich is nice, but she
wants to be living in Vienna and we should move back.
I try to explain that
it is not possible to do that; that not only have we made a commitment to this
new life, but that it is exciting and full of possibilities and opportunities
to make new friends. Also, I tell them what I told my friends during that “week
of farewells,” which is what helped me survive it: I do not
believe in goodbyes. Our friendship bonds are too deep and too strong to be threatened by this
move, or any move, which is why it does not daunt me. I will not be able to talk to or see
my best friends whenever I feel like it – and I will hate it – but I know that they
will always be there for me and I for them. That should count for something.


  1. Anonymous

    It is reassuring to hear you have just gone through a move and have come out the other side in one piece and ready to embrace new challenges. We are about to move ourselves but for me it means returning home after thirteen years – so back to familiar territory and reconnecting with "old" friends. True friendship is indeed a deep bond and I am lucky that I have been able to keep some of mine despite severe laziness on my part and many years of living abroad. Email and skype keep us up to date with the daily stuff – but good friends are in our hearts forever – even the lazy ones among us! SC

  2. Anonymous

    I remembered that each Thursday morning we used to have breakfast with our kids …and today you are in Greece and I was on my way to my new job.. It was a really weird feeling but I guess that each chapter in our lives enriches us with something and we hope that time allows us to always be in touch & that no incidents or circumstances come in the way. Enjoy every moment of being at home and not running through lists of stuff to do….

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