27 May, 2013

My first Lustrum

Five years ago yesterday I hopped on a plane from Bristol and flew to the Netherlands to live with Maarten after almost a year in a long distance relationship.  Five years ago yesterday I was planning a short term solution to our problems of not being able to relocate to Australia.  Five years ago yesterday I was full of hope, confidence and excitement for the future.  Five years ago yesterday the weather was warm (damnit!).

So how has my short term solution panned out?  Well, not so short after all.  Life seemed to get in the way.  We bought a house, got married and then had a baby.  Now that baby is a toddler and we're no closer to moving to Australia.

How did I celebrate?  With a new bicycle!  One of the greatest aspects of working in the Netherlands is that every year in May you are paid 8% of your gross salary as "Holiday money."  Essentially you put money aside from your salary each month and are given a lump sum in May to help with whatever it is you plan to do over the summer (holidays, renovations, savings, whatever).  I decided to do two things with my holiday money: contract an amazing professional illustrator to create some graphics for my blossoming crochet business and buy a new bike.

A bike has been high on my list of priorities for more than a year.  I have to carry Raina to and from day care quite a bit, so I have been carrying her on my back in my Stokke MyCarrier since she was about ten weeks old.  I'm not exactly sure if it's against the law to do this, but it's really not recommended although I've always felt safe and in control.  But, this was never a long term solution.  Both my and Maarten's bikes are not really suitable to attach a child seat to, we don't have the space to store a trailer, and we don't have the spare 1600 euros for a bakfiets and nor do I want to push that sucker around all day long.

So, I started looking around for cool bikes.  My friend Sanne (hi Sanne!) bought a new bike a couple of years ago and I remember her saying that if you're going to spend s bucket-load of cash on a bike, make it a cool one.  And what a cool bike I found!

It's actually even cooler now, because Maarten bought a bright pink seat for Raina, so she sits just behind the handlebars and absolutely loves it.

So is my integration finally complete?  I complete my daily life in Dutch, I've been naked at the sauna, I eat and enjoy boerenkool, I use the word "Gezellig" in normal conversation, I am no longer even mildly surprised when I'm elbowed out the way so an old lady/kid/business man can get on or off the bus before me, I moan about the weather every single day, I always hold my line while cycling, and now I have an awesome bike with a child seat.

What's left?  Where will I be in another five years?

Edited to add:  Because I'm celebrating a significant event in my life, I have followed the rules and have brought a tart to work for my colleagues to share.  There's officially nothing left in my path to full integration!

What we are talking about

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...