Sunday, April 27, 2014

Retrospection on Taking the Leap

I'm going to start with two words I hadn't heard since my high school basic German course - Grüezi mitenand! Hello everyone!
Growing up in Western Colorado, I never thought I would seriously say them outside of the makeshift Oktoberfest my tiny hometown, Grand Junction, hosted on an irregular basis. You know the type of city event where people are excited that they allow drinking in the street and everyone does the Chicken Dance. More than a decade later, here I am: an American living abroad in Switzerland.
Thankfully, I am sharing this adventure with the love of my life - my favorite scientist, Nick. Long story short, Nick and I had moved to Florida shortly after he finished his Master's degree at Colorado State University. We had five years of fun playing with Nick's family on St. Pete beaches, fishing, and becoming more tan that I ever thought was possible. I finished my Master's in Library and Information Science and had started working in a stellar public library in Safety Harbor, Florida. The library and the town became like family to me.
Nick finished his Ph.D. in Physics in March of 2013. Our cozy life in our sleepy little Florida town ended. After a whirlwind, 32-hour interview trip to the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, Nick was offered a post-doctoral position. The chance to see the world? An amazing research opportunity at a world-class facility? The chance was too great to pass up.
We packed all of our favorite possessions into six Rubbermaid tubs for storage, sold the rest of our crap, and opened a new chapter of life.

I took this picture sitting in the Tampa International Airport just a few moments before boarding my flight. Nick had left three months earlier than I to secure an apartment and settle into his new lab while I wrapped up loose ends stateside. I both love and hate this picture. I was simultaneously exhausted, terrified, and excited. I constantly checked my purse for my passport, fumbled to organize the wildly-hued new currency I would need to stop referring to as "fake money," and, in a moment of panic, called everyone using my computer who's phone number I could still remember to tell them that just in case the plane crashed and I was gobbled up by sharks somewhere over where the Titanic sunk, that I loved them and they could have the contents of one of our precious Rubbermaid containers sitting in my mother-in-law's garage.  After I boarded what I was sure at the time was my edelweiss-plastered flying tomb of yodeling death, they gave me a chocolate.

Then everything was better.