A House Changes the Home
By Carlos Navarro
Carlos Navarro, his wife and two young boys moved from North Carolina to Basel one year ago.
One of the greatest things about living in Basel is that my inadequate German keeps me blissfully unaware of any problems that may be affecting our community. My bubble, however, doesn’t protect me from problems thousands of miles away, in this case the US economy and our house in North Carolina.
In retrospect, we made a terrible decision to buy a beautiful, spacious home in a desirable neighborhood. I’m not sure what we were thinking, and to make matters worse we bought the house with a hefty down payment… I know… awful. Now our home has been on the dreadful real estate market for over a year without anyone making a single offer. Our lovely brick house sits empty surrounded by a giant wooded lot. We’ve left the doors open with the keys inside, but even squatters are waiting to see what’s going to happen with the Fed’s quantitative easing policy before they make a final decision. So our house sits sucking the life out of us by steadily draining our bank account. The writing was on the wall: I was going back to work in the next two to nine years, but it all happened sooner than expected.
A neighbor emailed me a want ad, my wife not so gently encouraged me to send in a resume, and I managed to land a position with the Basel Ballet as the in-house masseur/medical director. Even though I used to work as an orthopedic physical therapist, it was a long shot as my previous dance experience was a tipsy tabletop version of “YMCA” at Carlos & Charlie’s in Cozumel. But maybe the description on my resume translates much more impressively. The days of shaving only on Thursdays, online poker tournaments, hourly status updates on Facebook and spending quality time with my boys are sadly over.
Now I spend 60 percent of the workweek rubbing the muscular legs of dancers and sitting out of sight on the stage making sure they don’t get hurt at performances. I am now one of the many people who have to wear pants almost daily and shave at least three days a week. Uniquely, I do spend the day surrounded by people who can touch their shins to their foreheads and pull off a rond de jambe en l’air with a smile on their faces. And the good news is that I speak primarily Spanish at work and a little English so my German is not likely to improve any time soon, keeping the bubble from local negative news intact.