Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life

A little blog post series: I am turning 40 next week, and I thought it would be fun to look back at my last decade before my birthday. So, every day for ten days, there will be a new blog post reminiscing about one year. Also, check out my Instagram for a few more photos and videos from these last ten years of my life.

The Big Picture

34 and big decisions awaited. It had been clear from the beginning that Rich would move to New York City that summer to continue his residency (doctor training). My visa did not allow me to move or even change jobs. So we decided to try a long distance relationship. At the same time, I also did not want to find a new roommate for our apartment because it would have felt weird. I was lucky to take over a studio apartment from a colleague, which was almost affordable.

So Rich moved to Midtown Manhattan, and Canavar and I moved within Cambridge. Only, the moving company I had hired never turned up. After a night of zero sleep, my best friend and her husband arrived early in the morning with a big cup of coffee and their car, which was bigger than mine. Together, we managed to take the last big pieces of furniture from the old to my new apartment.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life | janavar

I feel that I got the best birthday cakes ever at that time

I spent that summer of 2018 in Boston, New York City, and in Germany. Even though our long distance relationship was hard, it felt like we were working out. So by the time the new school year started, I met up with HR to ask if my employer would agree to me changing jobs to another German international school and moving to New York City. Yes, the J1 visa requires this. Nothing like being fully dependent on the whim of your employer. Luckily, they agreed. It was a process that took several months, but eventually it was clear that I could move to Manhattan in 2019.

The hardest part of our relationship was actually that we both had demanding jobs. As a second year resident, Rich worked pretty much every other weekend. And I ended up working a bazillion weekends, too. For example, that fall I went with high school students on a two-week trip to Germany, which basically took up three weekends. We saw each other a lot less than we wanted. This is also why we were so happy when I finally had all things in order to move to Manhattan as well.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life | janavar

That year, I spent New Year’s in Montreal with a friend, and for winter break, Rich and I flew to Las Vegas. We went on a road trip around the Grand Canyon, and I finally got to see so much more of the U.S.

Sadly, my best friend and her husband moved to North Carolina that winter. While I could fully understand their reasons, I still missed her a lot.

While spring was busy, we started planning my move and looking at apartments in Manhattan. That prove to be much more difficult than expected. I think in the end we went to see almost 20 apartments. Many were tiny. Some were just a dark cave. Most wanted to start renting immediately – while we were looking to move in on 1 July. Eventually, we found the right 1-bedroom apartment on Lexington Avenue and started a long application process to the Coop board of the building.

My Firsts

Plenty of firsts here:

It was the first time since I had moved to the U.S. that I lived alone. While my studio was not perfect (think: summer heat and the trash cans right in front of my windows), it felt amazing. There weren’t any mice running around. I even had a dishwasher. In honor of moving, I rewarded myself with my first robot vacuum, Manfred. Canavar also loved that apartment. Since it was on the ground floor, he could sit in the windows and watch everything outside.

Another first was our long distance relationship. It came with a lot of struggles due to circumstances, but luckily, we didn’t give up and made it through that year. I spent my first 4th of July in the City and, of course, many more days. With Rich, I went for the first time to the states of Utah and Arizona. Seeing the Grand Canyon in snow was splendid.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life | janavar

It was also the first time I went to the Homestead in Maine (the summer house of Rich’s extended family). That year I even went twice, for a weekend in June and over Labor Day weekend. I already loved that place even then – and even more now that we go every year for several weeks and we have our own family room.

What I Learned

Man, long distance relationships are hard. Even more so when both of us constantly worked. I darkly remember that I worked a lower two digit number of weekends that school year – and a school year only consists of about 36 weeks. Oh, and have I mentioned that, since being a teacher is a salary based job, I did not get paid any extra? Yeah … So two learning outcomes:

1) We had to learn to communicate very often and well in our relationship. We called and texted each other a lot. And almost every free weekend meant that one of us was going to visit the other. It was a bit easier once we knew that there was an end in sight.

2) A job is a job and not what I live for. Obviously, it is much easier to say that now. At the time I didn’t feel confident enough or even able to set limits. But I really wasn’t compensated even nearly enough for the hours I worked. And: just because you are a teacher, does not mean that schools shouldn’t pay for things. Reflecting on this now, I actually just realized that not only was I made to go on that two-week trip to Germany (for no extra money, while working basically 24/7), but I also had to pay for Canavar’s cat sitter out of my own pocket. Like … come on!

Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life | janavar

I learned a lot already about New York City. Since I spent quite a bit of my time there, I visited a lot of places (almost all of them in Manhattan – I am nothing if not consistent, ha ha). Rich shared a tiny two-bedroom apartment with one his oldest friends in a walk-up (6th floor! No elevator! I H A T E stairs!), and I soon decided that we needed to live in a different kind of apartment. Together we learned a lot about the Manhattan housing market and Coops when we looked for an apartment. It is definitely important to know your priorities and then go to as many open houses as possible – while also making your mind up quickly.

Last but not least, robot vacuums are amazing! Buying Manfred was one of my best purchases ever. Canavar and I produced enough hair and dust that we needed extra help – and that is where the robot vacuum came in. Manfred retired about two years ago and was replaced by Gottfried, who now deals with the hair of four humans and two cats. What can I say? Buy that robot vacuum, do not wait or hesitate!

Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life | janavar

My Travels

1. Maine

2. Germany: Mecklenburg

3. Dominican Republic

4. Germany: Hamburg and Berlin for a school trip

5. NYC

Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life | janavar

6. Montreal

7. Las Vegas & Grand Canyon

Reminiscing My 30s: The 35th Year of My Life | janavar

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