Growing up in Los Angeles, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to live anywhere else. Its predictable palm trees and watercolor sunsets were home. The sad, 9-meter tall ballerina clown on Rose Avenue and Hollywood sign my parents drove me past every day was home.
Despite my daily life in L.A. made up of morning beach fog, sitting in traffic on the 405, and having roaring helicopters overhead, I also had summers in Europe where I would visit my grandparents at their tiny cabin in eastern Switzerland, explore the stores of Zürich, and visit neighboring countries with a short plane flight.
At a young age, I was intrigued by Europe’s old-world charm. It was everything L.A. wasn’t. L.A. architecture felt more accessible, like it was trying to grab your attention and get in your face, while European architecture had a quietness to it and was decidedly less ostentatious. I also found these characteristics reflected in the people in L.A. and those in Europe.
As a teenager, there was a moodiness about Europe that spoke to the youthful moodiness within me. I viewed my European counterparts as having an air of independence and indifference, like teenage characters in a foreign indie film. My American peers started to seem years behind in wisdom and maturity, and with a naive openness that I had never noticed before.
Europe seemed to hold a promise of untold stories, and I felt myself pulled toward this mysterious place. Where it wasn’t mysterious or moody, it was picturesque and breathtaking—like jumping straight into a postcard.
Nonetheless, the buildings I was most drawn to were not the picturesque ones, but the ones that had an edge to them. They were the ones that had often stood through a history much longer, darker, and more complicated than those I was surrounded by in my sunny, California homebase. I was mystified and at the same time enchanted by the depth that could be felt when walking through an old town with cobblestone streets, knowing that these stones had been walked on for hundreds of years and had witnessed so much, some of it written down in history books but most of it not.
For the first time in my life, I could imagine living somewhere else than L.A. I moved away from the beach, the California weather, and the city I felt I knew too well. With Zürich as my first stop among many, I spent the rest of my 20’s moving between London, New York, and back to California again, chasing dreams and keeping one foot in each continent. Even though my idealistic views have tempered with time and age, I’ve called Switzerland home for the last 5 years and somehow, I know that I’ll never completely stop romanticizing it.
Die Amerikanerin Francisca Stewart erzählt in der vierteiligen Serie über Kuriositäten und Vertrautheiten des Alltags und dem Leben zwischen zwei Kontinenten.