Eating on the Steps

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

It all started with a table. All I wanted was for our family to have a meal at a table. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my typical first-few-months-of-moving-breakdown would be ignited by said table.

When we moved to Switzerland, we decided to sell, donate, or give away most of our belongings rather than ship them halfway across the world. Our first brand new, aubergine, velour couch, covered in spit up and nursing stains and nicked by the vacuum cleaner wooden legs, was easy to give to soon to be first-time parents. The dining room table that we’d had custom made to match the gorgeous maple cabinets in a Milwaukee condo was sold at a garage sale. It was time for a furniture overhaul.

We put together a small crate of the can’t-live-withouts that would spend a few months on a ship traveling from Seattle to Switzerland. Because of our garage sale, Craig's List sales, and giving away frenzy, we were left with the task of filling our empty apartment. Logistically, that meant many trips to Wohnland (a concentration of box stores supplying items for lighting and furnishing your home) and IKEA in order to create a livable home.

We spent the first month shopping for everything from bath mats to couches. During this time, we were frequent fliers at IKEA. On our first family visit, N was extremely brave and ordered her own ice cream cone in German! On our last visit as a family, my husband and N had to stay at IKEA when we realized we had purchased so much that it was going to take two trips to get everything home. I think we can honestly say that there should be a new term called PTID (Post Traumatic IKEA Disorder)!

Photo by Şahin Yeşilyaprak on Unsplash

After a month of shopping, we had lost our steam. We simply couldn’t do it anymore. However, we were still eating our meals sitting on the steps because our overseas shipment (including a beautiful table we inherited from B’s grandmother) had not arrived. But if you must know, I am a bit of a food snob (stop nodding your heads so furiously!) and eating while sitting on a staircase was not my idea of fine dining. What it really boils down to is that at heart, I am an old woman that feels the need to feed everyone around me. Feeding people brings me comfort. This is how I show that I am taking care of my family and friends. Eating on the steps was not how I wanted to care for my family.

Braving another visit to Wohnland was going to be a necessity to placate the screaming grandmother inside my head. Thankfully, it was a fruitful visit and we found a beautiful walnut table (American walnut, if you can believe it). We were very excited to place the order until we started filling out the forms. To our utter amazement, the nice man behind the counter told us it was going to be 8-10 weeks until our table would be delivered. You know the saying about wind and sails... We learned that in a country as small as Switzerland, large stocks of items are simply not possible. Most items are made to order rather than having multiple in stock.

We slumped home with the knowledge that we simply could not exist for another two to three months without a dining room table. Thankfully, inspiration struck: We’d buy outdoor furniture earlier than planned and use it inside until our table arrived! We made a quick stop at an outdoor store and got home late with our new table and chairs (We made sure to buy the one in stock). Because it was so late, I decided I would set everything up the next day while my husband was at work.

A new day dawned and I was excited to serve my daughter lunch on a proper table with somewhat proper chairs. I unfolded the legs of the table and instantly realized that a hammer was necessary to set it up. I was devastated. We didn’t have a hammer. It was in the shipment!! Those sails of mine were starting to shred.

Lunch on the stairs came and went and I decided enough was enough. I made a rash decision just before my husband was to arrive home. I was going to use the heel of my daughter’s pink cowgirl boots as a hammer. I must say, it felt like quite the triumphant inspiration in the moment. However, moments later, my husband walked in the door to find me whaling away at the table with a pink cowgirl boot and tears streaming down my face.

The actual boots in question

The table had broken me. I knew it would be something. Every move comes with its challenges and something always pushes me to the breaking point. Thankfully this is one of the funnier breaking points than some of our other moves. This is a real issue for those of us that move frequently. There is strength in numbers and so many wonderful groups are available to help provide support. A couple of my favorites are Families in Global Transition and I Am a Triangle. If you are going to be moving in the near future, take a peek at their website to find resources and support that suit your needs.

With our number of moves in the double digits, I have come to expect this normal pattern of mine. Thankfully, with experience and a wonderful network of others with similar experiences, I knew this break wasn’t the last straw, but simply part of the process. But never, had I ever expected for that break to come while holding a pink cowgirl boot.

April Remfrey is an American special needs consultant living and loving life in Switzerland. Please feel free to share this blog post by giving credit to the author and the website link:

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