November 21, 2012

An Anniversary of Sorts at Casablanca

I remember the first time we came here; thinking we were on the edge of a more exciting neighborhood; trying to find something in this new city to hold on to. It was two years ago. So much was still unknown. It felt good to stumble on a lively café. We were excited. I think it was a Sunday. Everything else was closed. We sat at a high table on high stools in between the counter and the stairs; a lofty position to look at all the people relaxed in the low brown leather sofas. The brown of the leather, the low wood tables, the burnt umber tiled columns, the golden medusa-like chandeliers and the faint glow from the bar lent a tangible golden hue to the entire café. On that November morning we probably glowed too.

We had heard about Langstrasse and it's seedy corners and seedy people, but we had also come to understand that were there are seeds there is growth and that this street, which sweeps under the girl of the rail tracks that head to the Hauptbahnhof, is an artery of new and exciting things in Zürich. We had no idea where we where in the scheme of things, but that was okay because it meant there would be endless opportunities for exploring and besides, we were happy, settled into a café that was vibrating with life.

Perched on high stools Zach read the Herald Tribune and tried to make his way through the Neue Züricher Zeitung while I lost myself in thought. What will our life in Zürich look like? Will we come here often? Will we have friends to come with? Will we find our place in this city? What will our place be? What will our routine look like? We were at the very beginning; that spot full of wonder and curiosity, where you know things will work out, but you can't see just how. We were there, floating, completely untethered from anyone and anything, but we had found a cozy spot where there were people. It felt like the beginning of place making. I remember wishing I could look into the future and see our friends and thinking how strange it would be in, say, a year or two to look back at that lonely and lost version of myself with friends and routines already in hand.
It is strange now, two years later, to reflect on those questions when I have most of the answers. No, Casablanca, while glowing and cozy is not one of our go-to places. In fact, I've only been there two other times - yesterday, and this same week last year. In both cases I stopped in after shopping at the Helvetiaplatz market, yesterday I was alone and last year I was with a group of friends and we were cold after a morning shopping for Thanksgiving ingredients. Casablanca seems to be a once year, week of Thanksgiving, tradition (or coincidence, however you look at it). And yes, I have friends, wonderful friends, friends who we will once again celebrate Thanksgiving with and with whom we will clink or bubble filled flutes and toast to being family in this far away place.


Oh and p.s., I'd like you to know that just because we are stuck in the 1950s with our stuffing-in-a-bag preferences doesn't mean everything we dole out is out of a bag or box or can. I just finished making homemade cranberry sauce - my mom's recipe, that same mom who insists on the bag stuffing. It's a give and take.


  1. Hello,

    I had my sixth Swissiversary in October, the 3rd to be exact. It is always a time of reflection. I think back on all happened, the wonderful people I have met and also think about all the folks I have had to say goodbye to, in this accelerated life we live in Switzerland.

    All in all, it's been a blessing. I hope you have a great thanksgiving celebration. God bless you and your husband as you step into your 3rd year in Zurich.

  2. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with all of your new friends, Talley. I just finished my cranberry sauce, too. Can't wait to hear more about your feast and love your posts this month.

  3. Ah, I loved reading this post, Talley. It has something of an odd feeling to it that I can't put my finger on... I guess reflection has a way of doing that though. Here's to your third year being even better than your past two were!