It’s two on a Sunday morning, and I’m coming up on the last twenty-four hours of my first six months in Switzerland. I’ve just rotated the flat (i.e. moved nearly all the furniture a hundred eighty degrees along the outside wall of the living room) on the suggestion of a friend about a month ago and I have to say she was right, it’s much better this way.
Half a year ago I stepped off an airplane and looking back I marvel at how clueless I was, which feels good until I realize I'll most probably be able to say the same thing about myself now in another half a year.
The apartment is coming together, slowly. While shedding the cloud of stuff that had orbited me in Pittsburgh was an almost religiously therapeutic experience which I would recommend wholeheartedly to all, it turns out that clothes irons, cooking pots, and mops are all kind of useful. So I’m picking up needful things one tramload and Saturday afternoon shopping trip at a time. Next up: Sihlcity. Again.
The first thing I did on moving in though, and I think by far the most productive in terms of return on effort, was applying faux wood grain shelf paper to the shelves in my built-in bedroom closets.
I was sitting on the balcony last night, my ears recovering from the quite loud, somewhat interesting, yet ultimately disappointingly clubby beats of my brief Bellerive-to-Mythenquai flirtation with Streetparade, registering to vote in the November U.S. presidential election, when I noticed a spider scurrying along my right leg, building a web over the folds in the fabric of my still-slightly-too-baggy jeans.
I came out this morning, to have a blood orange juice – and only a blood orange juice as I still need to purchase a coffee machine – and a look at the Alps.
From the twenty-third of March, two thousand five to the fifth of August, two thousand eight: my one thousand, two hundred thirty-one day tenure as a homeowner ended yesterday with a wire transfer, a HUD-1 form via fax, and a closing in Erie, Pennsylvania. The new owners got an amazing deal, as they should in the current market. I’m happy with my end of it as I’m no longer holding onto a debt denominated in a currency I want nothing to do with for a while yet secured by an asset in a city I have no particular desire to ever return to.
Have just returned from Ireland. I had a chance to see a little of the city of Dublin, wandering about a bit through the Temple Bar – Trinity College – Grafton Street triangle last Sunday afternoon, and again on Tuesday; the weather, I take it from every cabbie who drove me around here that we really, really lucked out on the weather. Summers there are generally… wet.
Arrival was a bit of a shock.
I moved into the flat yesterday. By “moved in”, I mean most of my stuff is there, I have a motley and assorted collection of furniture, much of which is still boxed and flatpacked in the hallway, and I slept in the new bed last night. Maybe I’m really tired, maybe I’m finally home, or maybe [redacted] francs just buys you a damn good bed, but last night marked the first time I’ve ever slept through my first night in a new place.
I went by my new flat Monday morning to pick up the keys and do the walkthrough. It was a good Bastille Day. First off, it was much bigger than I’d remembered, and in somewhat nicer shape. The kitchen will need less work than I’d remembered. There is no counter space, but a giant, very 1950’s cabinet on the wall opposite the refrigerator so I don’t need any under-counter storage, and I’ll probably just get a table or butcher’s block to stick in the 120cm between the refrigerator and the oven to act as a counter.
Every reasonably-sized city in the Western world is basically similar. One can understand life in Zürich quite easily by thin metaphor and direct reference to New York or San Francisco or Berlin. Of course, the language is different, and the local history is unique, but local history is unique everywhere, and the difference between an accent, a dialect, and a language is simply a matter of degree along a continuum of mutual intelligibility.
I have now joined the ranks of adoptive Zürchers who can (and seemingly invariably do) say, in the language of their choosing, “with luck, and patience, you will find a flat.” Compared to many of the stories I’ve heard, I have been lucky, without having to have been particularly patient.
The search was not without compromise. My new flat is not in the middle of where I want to be, but it's quite close to two separate tram lines.
In software development, we have a saying: “Good, fast, cheap: pick any two.” I’m sure many other technical fields have a similar saying. Essentially, it expresses if you want something done right, it’s either going to take a while or be expensive. I am finding that this applies to searching for an apartment in Zürich. The only word that comes up consistently in speaking with people here who actually have a place to live here is "