Reminiscing My 30s: The 38th 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

When I turned 37, we struggled with our loan application. We had only a few weeks left to close on our apartment and move. We were constantly on the phone and communicated via e-mail with our two loan officers, who sat somewhere in Texas (thanks to Covid, loan officers still weren’t back in their bank offices). They did not understand real estate in New York (City) at all. Neither did they use the great online file system of the bank. Which meant they didn’t have any overview of what we had already sent to them. We were approaching more and more our own deadline: on 30 June, our lease was up. But we couldn’t close. When the bank finally gave us a closing date – for mid-July – we talked to our landlord who allowed us to stay a little longer. We quickly packed our suitcases, our cats, and drove to Maine for vacation

Reminiscing My 30s: The 38th Year of My Life | janavar

By that time, we already knew that I was pregnant. We had done plenty of blood tests to make sure that everything was going well. We were thrilled to have a baby in February 2022. But we still weren’t ready to tell our extended families. Unknown to me at the time, in Maine they all immediately knew I was pregnant when I did not drink any alcohol. It made for a fun story later on. I also started showing rather early. When we finally met our real estate agents for closing, they immediately congratulated me because I was so obviously pregnant.

In the middle of July, we finally moved into our own apartment. Rich started his first job after residency. I was gradually not nauseous anymore. Everything seemed to be going well. So, of course, something happened or rather did not happen: my Green Card. With the help of an immigration lawyer, we had applied for it in time. The agency had posted waiting times, which meant I would receive my work and travel permit in time for the new school year. Only, they did not stick to their own published dates.

So in August, my employer let me know in a phone call (after I had just worked for and with them that very morning) that they would not plan with me. I could return once I had my work permit. Oh, and also, that way they weren’t going to pay for my maternity leave. I was heartbroken. In my mind, it was very clear that I would work for them as a teacher for a long time. Just a few months ago, I had been promoted to middle school coordinator. Rich and I tried everything to receive my work permit in time, i.e. before 1 September. But it did not happen. Pregnancy hormones plus being laid off threw me into a very deep hole. My colleagues who were also my friends tried to tell me as much of what was going on as possible. – And I hated it. I wanted to be there and experience it myself. I didn’t want to sit at home waiting for my Green Card. So I shut myself away from everyone.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 38th Year of My Life | janavar

I also couldn’t leave the country because I didn’t receive a travel permit. So I missed my grandmother’s 90th birthday party in Germany at the end of September. Around that time, I decided to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Alone I went on a road trip to Vermont. I drove around the whole state for about a week and slowly found myself again. When you see the most beautiful foliage, you realize that not everything is terrible. The trip definitely nudged me to shift my mindset. So eventually, I told that school that I would never return. Instead of taking a mere three months unpaid maternity leave, I would rather spend more – unpaid – time with my baby girl.

By the start of December, we finally had our Green Card interview. We were so nervous when we went into the small office. Luckily, our interviewer was super nice and could tell quickly that we had a real relationship. My big pregnancy belly might have given it away. Or me describing exactly what Rich’s credit card looked like because I couldn’t remember the bank’s name for the life of me. Anyway, he approved my Green Card right away and had it issued that very day. We went to Balthazar for brunch to celebrate.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 38th Year of My Life | janavar

2021 was up, and I was super excited about 2022. We were going to have a baby. Josephine was born in February, and I was overjoyed. I ended up being happy with my decision to spend all my time with her.

Overall, things seemed to have come together. We were living in a great apartment. Arti and Lotti were well. I made a bit of money with freelancing while Rich had a job he loved. And we had the cutest baby girl ever. I spent the next months recovering from the C-section and soaking up all my time with Josephine. Everything was perfect.

My Firsts

We moved into our first own apartment. I still love it so much with its high ceilings, many closets, and a good amount of space for Midtown Manhattan. It also has its downsides like an old floor or badly painted walls. But we have slowly dealt with certain aspects.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 38th Year of My Life | janavar

That year, I was pregnant and so excited. We were going to have a girl! I had had no idea of how many pregnancy checkups I was going to have, how many blood vials I would have to fill. Then, the baby was in breech. We tried a version that didn’t succeed. Instead, we had a scheduled C-section. Well, and of course, having Josephine was the best thing ever. Everything about her was cute and amazing (and it still is!).

Thanks to my first Green Card being issued later than expected, I also, for the first time, in my adult life, had a lot of spare time as I wasn’t working. That was so weird. A teacher job easily requires 50 to 60 hours per week (sometimes more) outside of vacation time. Suddenly, I was just at home trying to figure out what to do with myself. I eventually settled on a road trip and online courses on project management.

What I Learned

I learned a lot when we bought our first apartment. Since my parents have lived in the same rental apartment since I was born, I had to catch up on quite a bit of knowledge. Buying made so much sense for us, and we had the perfect timing. I have learned to appreciate coops, a typical form of building share in New York City. Basically, we own a share of the building depending on the size of our apartment, and all shareholders make certain decisions together.

Reminiscing My 30s: The 38th Year of My Life | janavar

I am still in love with our giant windows

The biggest learning was probably that I already knew that all people are replaceable in their job, but experiencing it, felt differently. After all, I got the chance though to reconsider what I really wanted in my life. Being the middle school coordinator, I had reached the glass ceiling anyways. I had to learn that our jobs are not and should never be what defines us.

My Travels

1. Maine

2. Vermont

Reminiscing My 30s: The 38th Year of My Life | janavar

Vermont is really pretty

3. Croton Point Park Campground

4. Boston

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