Leaving Düsseldorf was a hard thing to do. After nearly three years, it had really become home. We loved our neighborhood, and we had a great group of friends. The kind you can call up and spontaneously meet for Mexican in 20 minutes. My personal training business was booming, and my Zumba classes were up and running.
But change is what keeps life interesting, so we dislocated an entire clan of dust bunnies, had a bittersweet last pizza at our favorite Italian place, and moved to Frankfurt.
Our apartment, while smaller than the one we had in Düsseldorf, is getting quite cozy. The many windows let in every ray of sun the sky gives us, although I am acutely aware of the fact that we will need a window cleaner to come by one of these days. The balcony is gloriously large and finally allowed us to put our American grill to good use over the warm summer we had. Our various trappings of life have slowly found their places again.
The neighborhood is still lacking as far as human connection goes. Frankfurt is a much bigger and more international city than Düsseldorf. Many of the neighbors are reticent to even say hello, and much of the staff at the restaurants we’ve tried don’t bother hiding their indifference. Although, we have found an Italian place, an Austrian place, and a coffee house that are very promising. I’m hoping that if nothing else works, me wandering around with a stroller when December comes will melt all their hearts. And if not, we’ll just have to get a puppy.
Feeling self-conscious about the fact that the initial phase of baby belly looks like a college student’s beer gut.
Being winded after a single flight of stairs.
Realizing they have special seating for me in the trams and special parking spaces at the grocery store.
Being paranoid about the source of my cheese and any leftovers or open food products older than two days.
Craving no-nos like wine and gelato. Although I did later find out that some flavors of gelato are made without egg. Yeah!
Having absolutely no desire for my favorite latte macchiato. What?!
I have decided that I love my pregnant belly. Sure, it’s weird to not see my feet anymore unless I’m standing a certain way, to no longer fit into even my ‘fat jeans’, to not be able to balance on one foot very well anymore, to groan like a rudely awoken bear when I put on my socks, and to not know where the ends of my body are when I’m walking around corners and other objects (including Toby). But it’s so very nice to feel the little person moving inside of me. I love talking to him and stroking my belly, imagining that he can feel me through my skin and thinning abdominal muscles, wondering the whole time if he’ll get Toby’s long legs and thick hair, what color his eyes will be, what he thinks of me.
Two of the last messages I sent to Toby while he was off on a recent business trip are quite indicative of how much fun the housewife inside of me is having:
“Already learned Spanish, read some more Beckenboden [pelvic floor] book, wrote a little blog, and enjoyed coffee and blueberry cheesecake at the coffee house. Not bad. Now we’re off to dm [the super Walgreens of Germany]. The excitement never ends!”
“Frankfurt is doing well – warm enough to do ‘yard work’ in a tank top. Patio is clean now and ready for the next rain storm :) Up next, chasing dust bunnies with the vacuum cleaner. Then afternoon coffee!”
I don’t even want to think about how many leaves are left on the trees – I hope yard work stays fun….
Because I had finally hit the point where I could proudly say I was earning real money, I milked my PT earning potential in Düsseldorf as long as I could. When I joined Toby in Frankfurt seven weeks after he’d already started his new job, there was no doubt I would continue with PT.
I first picked a new gym, no easy task when you don’t have a feel for the market, and started hanging out there. I had the effect of double-bad timing to contend with – first there were all the World Cup soccer games keeping people from the gym, and then it was summer vacation when all Germans take off for a few weeks with their families. Needless to say, it was hard to get a hold of people to train with for that all-so-critical initial contact.
I stuck it out for a few months, always waffling between the positive feelings that my breakthrough was coming any day and the negative feelings that our household income would be better off if I spent more time at the coffee house and stopped paying my gym rent and own health insurance.
In Germany you are required by law to pause your work for maternity leave six weeks before you give birth. For me that would be October. I’ve decided to stop a bit early.
I feel a sense of relief now that the decision has been made. It’s also given us something to laugh about. While I have spent the summer falling (comfortably and of my own free will) more and more into the role of housewife as Toby’s job got crazier and mine never did, I am now officially, full-time “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”
We just talked the other night about how strange it is that we’ve so easily slipped into these old-school roles – Toby being the breadwinner and me the housewife. I don’t mind. Sure, laundry in and of itself isn’t an inspiring job, but the fact that I’m doing it while baking another human being and the fact that it allows us to relax together for the few minutes Toby has each evening make it worthy of my time.
And, as Toby quoted from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “the man is the head of the house, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” That’s what I’ll think of if the mundane activities of running a household ever leave me uninspired.
Yes, that will make a nice comeback to blogging. Last time I wrote about all the alien street art I’ve been finding in Düsseldorf. This time I’ll write about all the alien but exciting things life has been treating us to. The summary goes something like this:
Toby gets new job; quits old. We get ready to enjoy what we think will be another nine months in Düsseldorf. We find out we are actually moving to Frankfurt in less than two. Clever Christina convinces Toby to take time off between jobs. We travel to Arizona and Mexico for family, sun, and relaxation. We celebrate Toby’s birthday in Munich. His best birthday present and our ultimate Mexican souvenir turns out to be a baby, coming in December. Toby starts his new job. Christina keeps up the PT business in Düsseldorf for a few months. We frantically search for the perfect apartment. Compromises are made, but we find a new place to call home. Movers pack and unpack; chaos ensues. Christina finds a new gym for PT. Germany becomes soccer Weltmeister. Belly grows. Order begins to find its place again. Neighbors are met. A new favorite coffee house is found. Belly grows. We visit family in Arizona for one more dose of desert air before winter hits and baby comes. Christina puts PT on ice for the moment. Lists of things we need for the baby are made. Belly grows. Christina sits down to write again.
My name for an ever-expanding collection of Düsseldorf street art. There are so many, me and my camera can’t keep up anymore!
I wasn’t a big fan of driving when we first came to Düsseldorf, but I’ve since adapted and have been driving myself around quite a bit. I find it to be a potent feeling of freedom – just me in my climate-controlled box on wheels and the road. As a reward for my assimilation, I promptly received not one but two speeding tickets. I also happen to like the gentle but firm tug you get when pressing the accelerator…
I since have gained a wary respect of the German efficiency with which they keep drivers like me in check. There are radar cameras in enough places, so, aside from those few kilometers on the Autobahn that are speed limit-free, I have become a diligent user of cruise control, to the point of me feeling spiessig, which literally translates into bourgeois but specifically implies the part of the definition having to do with concern for respectable behavior. (did anybody else notice what a German sentence that was? 57 words!)
While the tickets are not expensive and don’t give me points on my record, I’m not willing to be teased by Toby any more than necessary. Besides, those pictures really do look horrible…
German humor in advertising for a local waxing salon:
“Time for the spring trim”
This is the actual sign in front of the kiosk in the Underground station that sells newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, lottery tickets, and, I guess, ‘real wieners.’ Giggle, giggle.
“I’m a real one… 22 cm long, 200 g heavy, and recently increased in price to 2,70.”