Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Strategic Relative Placement

 It’s true that you can’t choose your relatives. Neither can you choose where they live. But once they’ve made that choice, you can try your best to make use of their locations.

This is why I’m flying to Zürich tomorrow. My brother has been living there for the past decade or so. While I can’t claim that he has chosen to live in Zürich because I approve, I capitalize on his decision nearly every summer.
Sailboats at Rest on Lake Zuerich
 What’s the best thing about having a sibling who lives in Europe? I’ve always got an excuse to go there. “Oh, I must check up on my brother,” I tell people. He doesn’t really need checking up on. He wouldn’t listen to advice if I offered it to him. But even people who don’t like to travel have to admit that I have a good reason for heading to Switzerland. Any good sister might have to do the same.

Not only do I have an excuse to go to Europe, but I have a free place to stay. And since Switzerland is such a long way from Arizona, I can even be demanding. I can say, “Hey, my friend and I are coming and we’re going to crash at your apartment. That’s all right, isn’t it?”

What can he say? If I’m the one traveling nearly 6,000 miles, then I get to be just a little bit bossy. He can’t say, “Oh, well, let me think about whether I’ll have other guests staying that week.” Even though my parents and some of his friends have gone to visit, I’ve got them all beat in sheer number of trips I’ve made to his city. 
Come on in!
As it turns out, I really like Zürich. There are many reasons for this. It’s not a tourist town, so the actual tourists can go around unnoticed. It sits on a beautiful lake; people spend their summers promenading around it. Once mid-summer hits, people swim in the lake. It’s shallow enough that it warms up enough for some of the braver swimmers. That number, of course, includes me. What could better than having a lake at your disposal on a hot summer’s day?

Ready for a river plunge
Zürich also has a river. Behind the train station, there’s an area where bathers go to enjoy this additional water source. They jump in from a bridge and then float all the way down to where the river peters out into nothing. On the hottest days, the area is so crowded you can hardly find a place to put your towel. It’s one of the best places in town: cheerful, happy, vibrant.

But the other incredible thing about having a brother who lives in Switzerland is the fact that he’s so central. That goes back to my first point. Not only do I always have an excuse to go to Switzerland to check up on my little brother, but from his house, it’s easy to go to so many other places. If I want to go to Paris, I merely offer my excuse as such:

"Where are you going this summer?"

"To Switzerland to check up on my brother."

"And after that?"

"I think I’ll go to Paris for a week. After all, it’s close by."

“Close by?” Actually it’s a trip of several hours, but in Europe, several hours can take you from coast to coast of a single country or from one country to another. From Zürich, virtually everything I want to see in Europe is easily accessible whether I go by train or plane or even car.

Lake Zuerich at Sunset
Have siblings that are on the job market? Figure out where you’d most like them to live so that it’s the most convenient for you. Then try to get them to apply to as many jobs in that area as possible. You might not be able to affect their decisions, but if those siblings are not sure what they really want to do anyway, it’s only fair to nudge them in the right direction. Your direction, that is!

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