The Odyssey: Moving to Geneva when time felt serious

In the middle of my odyssey, I landed in Geneva, a deeply serious place. A truly participatory democracy where each person in every single one of Switzerland’s 26 Cantons takes part; there really is no other place quite like it.

In Rome, time stood still. In Paris, it flew right by. In Malta time felt lost. In Geneva, everything felt deeply serious and it’s such a wealthy city it made me feel poor. It wasn’t the first time I didn’t have any money, so the concept wasn’t new, yet Geneva had a way of underlining it then putting an exclamation point at the end. Perhaps the environs felt uniquely serious because it was so cold in the winter of 2009. Especially after the weather in Malta where the yellow sun never seemed to leave the sky.

In Geneva, I could practically her stern voice, “It’s time to get back on your feet, now.” But I wasn’t ready to get back on my feet – still knee deep in pathological grief. I did try, and I did try and recall Joan Didion’s advice, about it being a good idea to stay on familiar terms with our former selves. I’d been so successful in business in my former life in Seattle. And now that I’d received attention from headhunters it was time to get serious about tapping into that former self. Unfortunately, I was dealing with pathological grief.

I was also surrounded by the Alps, and full of bankers serious about money, and people that worked for the United Nations, seriously working hard on helping third world countries catch up to first world countries.

If I thought our lifestyle nomadic we were amateurs compared to the people I met. Everyone was arriving home or packing to venture off to another part of the globe. Seriously.

Geneva is utterly international and geared towards expats who account for about 40% of the city’s residents, and Geneva held about 40% of the world’s wealth, so those were easy numbers to remember. At least those were the numbers back in late 2009 when we lived in Geneva, albeit for a short time in a tiny apartment. It was not a romantic move.

However, the views were astounding, and worth exploring so we did. My guy threw me over the fender of his motorcycle and we drove up to Mont Blanc. We did tours. Those were highlights, the place was gorgeous, but my mindset was not ready to get serious. I kept getting asked back for interviews but I couldn’t seem to sell my old self. Where was my ability to recruit and maintain IT resources? Once upon a time I was very good at this, but in Geneva, not so much.

I couldn’t seem to seal the deal. I couldn’t find my former self. I decided it was time to liveaboard Madi, our sailboat – and this made sense because we needed to prepare her for market. It was time to let go of Madi, she was far too expensive to keep at port, to take care of all that teak. I was relieved.

And I dearly needed familiarity. To get my head on straight. It felt right. So off to Lignano Sabbiadoro for a completely different kinda lifestyle. I was given a mission.

My next address not only saved my life but it altered my perception of it forever.

Published by baileyalexander

An American living in Piemonte. Sailed across the Atlantic aboard our 43 Nauticat in 2002 and spent over a decade living in Rome, Paris, Prague, Malta, Venice and Bucharest before settling in Piemonte, Italia.

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