Tag Archives: Fun

Our First Date

 

heart

Martin and I like to look back on our “first date” with fond memories. The funny thing is, when we started comparing how the date and the lead up to it went, we had quite different versions of the same story. So, here, in all its glory, is the story of our first date, and I’ll let you be the judge as to who probably has it right.

 

Nicole’s Version.

 

So there I was, a single mom, living in Switzerland, enjoying life and work and travel, when one of my friends at work decided it was time for me to start dating again. I thought it over. I hadn’t dated in uh… a little while. Life was good, who needs a man anyway? Ok, it would be nice to have someone to go out for supper with, watch movies with, someone kind and intelligent and willing to be in charge of bug squashing and remote control battery buying, two tasks that were sorely unmet in my home. So I decided she was right. I was Ready To Start Dating.

 

She took this on as a mission. I found folded newspaper pages in my locker at work, the classified “men seeking women” section, with big red circles around certain candidates, and notes written on the side like “this one sounds fun!” and “loves travel!”. I read them with interest, put them in my bag, and never looked at them again.

 

My friend did not relent. She started checking into some of the new guys at work, a whole batch of them had just arrived, having been transferred from Zurich. “Fresh meat!” she said, rubbing her hands together greedily (Ok she actually never said or did that, but I like to imagine it that way).

She came up with a candidate.

“Martin. He’s Swedish or Danish or something. One of those countries up there.”

I nodded.

“You don’t know who he is, do you.” She accused.

“Uh…  Is he, uh, tall with dark hair?” I was just guessing.

“They’re all tall with dark hair. Nicole. He’s got potential. He’s taller than YOU. “

I hesitated.

“He reads. He speaks, like, a lot of languages. He’s smart.”

I headed for the door. “My break is over, I’ll check him out” I said enthusiastically.

“He’s perfect!” she called after me.

 

So a few days later. I‘m at work, on a break (you’re starting to think we’re always on a break, but we do actually work too.)

 

I’m sitting at a shared computer area, at one of the many computers available for our use during breaks. I am aimlessly reading emails. Nothing new. I think over this Whole Dating Thing. I really should make more of an effort.

Then I notice him. It’s that guy my friend mentioned, sitting at a computer just across from me. Martin, right? He looks ok. Harmless. Hey, he has a book! Potential.

How do I ask him out? I actually am free tonight, Jesse and Daniel are in Canada at their dad’s for a week!

I get a bit nervous. Come on now, just strike up a conversation. Say something clever and funny.

Silence.

Ok say something deep and meaningful.

Silence.

I have re-read the same sentence on my computer 17 times.

Say anything. Seriously.

“Hey, have you seen that new movie, blah blah blah?” (The blah is because I now can’t remember which movie it was, since I was obviously just pretending I wanted to go see it.)

“Oh,” Martin replies, glancing up from his computer at me. “No. I want to, it should be pretty good.”

“ Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard too!” I say enthusiastically, clearly overjoyed at the possibility of soon seeing blah blah blah.

Silence. Martin goes back to looking at his computer.

I try again.

“Do you know where it’s playing?”

“Uh, nope” he says, and looks away again.

“Oh, that’s too bad.” Now madness takes hold of me. “Maybe I’ll look it up. I could go see it tonight after work. My kids are in Canada, so I’m pretty much free.”

“Hmmm” Martin says, obviously not interested.

“Yep, I’m free as the wind. Free as a bird. Free to do whatever I want. It’s great” I chuckle. (Inner voice: WhatintheworldamIsaying?).

“Huh.” Martin offers, and then stares at his computer again.

“Kind of don’t feel like going alone though.”  (Inner voice: DidIactuallyjust saythat??)

“Hmmmm.” Martin says, staring at a spot next to my head.

“Wonder if anyone else here is off work soon and feels like going too?” I look around the room vacantly, not seeing anything at all, my eyes blinded by my temporary insanity.

“Oh.” Martin looks around too. Then his eyes finally stop on me. “Would you like to go to the movie together?” He asks casually, like the thought just occurred to him.

“Hey, sure, why not?” I respond, acting spontaneous and cool and sophisticated and thrilled and casually interested and nonchalant and bedazzling.

The bedazzling is the best part, isn’t it?

So that’s how I remember it. Then we went out, first to a restaurant downtown, then started talking in real English, and never did see blah blah blah.

 

Martin’s Version.

New job posting in Geneva. Cool. Work is fun. Nice to meet new people.

Hey, there’s a girl who seems nice. Find out name. Nicole. Find out if single. Yes. Make mental note to ask her out when the opportunity arises.

Sitting at a computer on break. Reading about cool interesting gadget stuff. Make mental note to buy everything.

Thoughts interrupted by voice asking about the movie blah blah blah.

Oh, it’s that girl.

Mind goes blank.

Try to think of a way to ask her out.

Nothing.

She keeps talking.

Still trying to think of a way to ask her out.

Nothing.

She is still talking.

Maybe should just take a risk and just ask.

If she would just stop talking I could concentrate on how to say it.

Ok here goes.

“Would you like to go to the movie together?”

She smiles. Says a lot of things. Pretty sure it’s a yes.

She is quite bedazzling.

 

So there you have it, Version 1 or Version 2, who knows which is closer to the truth (well, mine obviously), but regardless, the date was a success since we are now happily married 7 years later, and have still never seen the movie blah blah blah.

Moving to Switzerland, One Expat’s Story…

PART THREE – First impressions… or what crazy thought made me decide to do this? 

So I stumble off the plane, jet-lag having started to settle in already (actually I think it may have started on the drive to the airport in Canada) and am greeted by M. DeLestrade who surprisingly looks exactly as I pictured him: shorter than me (everyone is shorter than me as I am six feet tall. And FYI, in case you are skeptical, that is the first thing I have not really exaggerated in this story so far), wearing a long grey jacket, shiny black leather shoes that I cannot picture any man in Canada wearing, slightly balding and looking simultaneously thrilled to see me and worryingly rushed.

He rushes over and shakes my hand energetically, quickly talking about the weather, the lateness of my flight, the hotel he is bringing me to and the interview tomorrow. What I hear: “…cold for August… Air France always late… Hotel Something conveniently located near the Something… tomorrow at 8”.

During this conversation we walk to the car, dump my inappropriately huge suitcase (also inappropriately old and cheap, I noticed at the baggage carousel, compared to the Swiss) into the trunk, and head off in a wild frenzy of driving at extreme speed through busy city streets while talking (him)/, nodding of the head (me)/ waving hands to stress a point (him)/ holding on the door handle in fear for my life (me). He deposits me at the hotel reception, suitcase embarrassingly being completely ignored by the grumpy looking “concierge” (that’s what his name tag says, although I’m fairly sure it’s his role, not his actual name. But you never know).

The height issue…

Getting to my room is interesting, as the elevator is made for people who are no taller than 5 foot 11 with feet the size of jelly beans and a suitcase the size of a croissant. Fortunately, I have some experience at yoga, but I won’t reveal which Asana I had to use to get myself in there. Hopefully there was no camera. Which is likely as the elevator was roughly 100 years old.

Anyway, I collapse on my bed (made for a person no taller than 5 foot 5  and unfortunately having as a baseboard a beautiful ornamented black wrought iron gate through which my feet stick out like chicken heads out of their coop).

The room is quite small, not a good sign for the image of the company I am considering joining, I think suspiciously. I grab the check-in receipt, and notice the cost is three times higher than the 4 star hotel I stayed at downtown Toronto recently. Alrighty then.

I take a few deep breaths to calm myself, and while doing so repeat my not-so-calming mantra: “what the hell am I doing here?” a couple times ’til I am no longer quite as tired and then jump out of bed. I open the dark heavy curtains and gaze out at Geneva. It looks nice out there. Sunny, people are walking around looking, I don’t know, Swiss I guess.

I decide to join them. Could I fit in here?

Moving to Switzerland, One Expat’s Story…

Ready to take on the world!

PART TWO – How I Got Here

So there I was, minding my own business and perfectly content living in Canada with my two kids, finally making ends meet as a single mom. When suddenly, out of the blue, for no apparent reason, a wave of insanity hit and I applied for a job in Switzerland. Actually, it started innocently enough, when a guy at work mentioned that the Swiss were looking for qualified people in my industry, and since I had just gotten my own computer and internet line at home (this was WAY back in 2001, hard to believe I now walk around with this little gadget called an Iphone and check my emails roughly every three seconds), I thought, why not? And popped online, found their website and quickly emailed an application.

Let’s pause here and reflect on that little phrase… «why not?»… How many of us have ended up in some seriously tricky situations (not to mention pregnant) because of that one little phrase? Sure, it all seems innocent at the time… Why not go on a date with that guy at work? Why not try the raw oysters for once? Why not sign up for salsa lessons? Why not buy the fluorescent mini skirt? What could it hurt??? Hahahahaha! (For those of you who believe in God, that was him laughing sarcastically from above. For those of us who are unsure of his presence, that was probably the sound of my own sarcastic laughter, although I won’t admit to it because that would be like admitting that I talk to myself, a sure sign of insanity. Seriously. I don’t. Yes I’m sure.)

So anyway, I applied. On a whim. Then thought nothing of it for a couple months. Life went on. The kids (Jesse age 9 and Daniel age 5) went to school and did their homework and cleaned their rooms and life carried on as normal (some parts of that last statement may be slightly exaggerated). Life was good.

Then, the phone call.

I answer.

A joyful heavily accented voice says “Bonjour Madame, May I speak with Madame Scobie please?”.

“Yes, speaking.”

“Madame Scobie, BONJOUR!!” said excitedly, and from this point the conversation continued in French, with Monsieur Anatole DeLestrade enthusiastically speaking so fast I felt out of breath just listening. What I heard: “Switzerland… your application… job interview… available next week?” (This actually took him at least 10 minutes to say, but those are the only words I really heard).

I started to talk only to find I had suddenly turned into a Parisian-accented, hand-waving bubbly free-spirit who agreed to come next week for the interview. He happily hung up after agreeing on the travel details and saying good bye seven different ways.

I walked directly in to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror and said to her: Are you insane??? You work next week!!! You have kids next week!!! (This week too but that was a moot point). You have other engagements next week!!! (That was untrue as I hardly ever had time or money to do anything but work and take care of my kids but it had the desired effect of scaring me even more).

And then the craziest thing happened. (Ok I know the whole woman-in-the-mirror talking to herself is already bordering on limited mental health, but bear with me here).

I felt suddenly calm. I took a deep breath. I decided I was going to Switzerland for a job interview. I would get it organized.

And I did.