The Frau is in Zurich. After a year away, The Frau is back for a visit.
And you know what? She thought she might feel like a tourist, but instead Zurich feels like home. It feels like she never left. It feels like Switzerland is embracing The Frau and The Frau is embracing Switzerland.
So far she's given a reading, gone to her first Swiss wedding, hiked the Alps, gone to two spas, done some writing and copywriting, visited old colleagues and friends, and most importantly, discussed construction schedules and tunnel transport with her old Swiss neighbor over 30+ slices of Raclette.
While visiting old friends in Zurich the other night, The Frau tried to explain to other expats how hard it is to make new friends with Americans back home.
You know, those friendly, ever-smiling Americans.
The problem is, once you tell your life story to the average American, and your life story comes to the part about living abroad, suddenly, their eyes gloss over.
They can't relate to you at all.
"Oh, you lived in Sweden?" they'll say. "That's nice."
End of story. The average American doesn't want to hear any more.
This is hard for the repatriate, who can't wait to share their experiences.
But until it was recently required for Americans to have passports to go to Canada or a Caribbean island, only 10% of Americans had passports (now 20% do). But still. About nine out of ten Americans can't relate to a repatriate at all.
At one point a few months ago in Chicago, The Frau's husband exclaimed over another American's bumper sticker. It said "CH."
"Wow," said Mr. Frau. "Switzerland! What connection do you have to it?"
The other American looked at him confused. "What? The CH is for Clarendon Hills," he said.
Clarendon Hills is a Chicago suburb.
So there it is. The hardest part about being home. While your world is big, most Americans' worlds aren't.
Coming back to the big, wide world solves this.
Needless to say, it's good to be back.