The Backstory

Justin and I had been living in Austin, Texas for four years. He works for a large European utility company, and he had been asking them about opportunities to work overseas pretty much as soon as he realized they were available. A plan was hatched about a year ago to transfer to an office in far-southern Sweden, which was exciting. Sweden was also positive because they offer a “sambo” visa – young Swedes tend not to get married early or… ever, so they’ve evolved a set of legal rules around cohabitation. As Justin and I had been living together for more than two years (and had the cosigned leases to prove it), I would be covered under his visa and would get a work visa of my own. We got cracking on watching Swedish TV shows on Netflix (highly recommend Annika Bengtzon and Wallander) and using our Rosetta Stone Swedish.

It was indicated that we would be moving sometime around Aug-Oct 2014, and accordingly we informed our landlord (who kindly allowed us to go month-to-month, as our lease ended July 2014) and started to get rid of our possessions. As the company was not the main driving force behind this transfer, they did not offer to pay for the move. Therefore, we tried to trim down our possessions to the bare minimum to save money. This was aided by the fact that our landlord was converting the house we were renting to a furnished rental, so we sold couches, chairs, etc to many incoming University of Texas students and lived in the remains while they worked on the house and let us live in minimal furniture.

August passed, and so did September. I was laid off by the startup I was working at, but I wasn’t too worried – we were moving in October, right? October arrived with no concrete moving plans, and then the dreadful news that corporate politics had interfered and we would not be moving to Sweden. What next? As we pondered this, our landlord gave us the word that we had to move out by Oct 31 or we would have a significant increase in our rent. At the same time, rumors began to percolate that there might be an opportunity to move to Germany instead of Sweden. We turned to Craigslist, finding an eccentric furnished rental we could stay in until mid-January. We enlisted some friends to move the remainder of our belongings, and waited and hoped (and applied for other jobs – by this point we were getting a bit sick of Texas anyway).

The rumors turned out to be true; as part of a corporate reorganization, some members of Justin’s department were being moved to Germany. He petitioned to be included in that cohort, and he was. By the time the paperwork was sorted out, it was December, and we were out of places to live on January 15th, with the long holiday break in between, and no air tickets or relocation plans. We scrambled to get some estimates to move our minimal possessions and sell our cars. It was around mid-December that I started comparing the move to an out-of-control train – it was happening no matter what, and it could be clean, or it could be messy. The upside of moving to Germany was that it was a company-supported move, which allowed us the freedom to spend a little more money (and gave us the help of a professional relocation firm). We indulged in getting our bicycles airfreighted, as we were not going to have any other means of transportation.

The downside of moving to Germany was getting a visa for me. Germany is not quite as socially liberal as Sweden, and I could not show up as an unemployed person with a boyfriend with a job. It became apparent in discussions with the relocation firm that Justin and I would have to finally tie the knot. Justin realized this during a teleconference at 6 AM one Monday morning, and imparted it to me at 7 AM as I was headed out the door to jury duty, a truly romantic moment. At this point, it was apparent that we had to move in January, and there was really no time to do anything but go to the courthouse.

This realization happened on a Monday, we broke the news to our families on Tuesday and Wednesday, and on Thursday we went for a wedding license. Our friends in Austin found this whole story hilarious (a typical comment was “This is the most ‘you’ way this could have worked out”) and were excited to serve as witnesses. The next Monday, Justin cut out of work a little early and we met up at the courthouse (glamorously, he walked to our wedding, and I rode the bus with a backpack full of camera, marriage license, my grandmother’s shawl, etc.) The judge was a little perturbed that we had no requests for our ceremony and that we didn’t even have rings. We tried to explain the time crunch involved, and came up with the compromise that we would exchange the two rings that I was wearing at that moment – this was pretty comical because I have very undersized hands, and my ring did not even make it over Justin’s first knuckle. We celebrated by taking a Lyft taxi to a local wine bar for happy hour, and that was that – we were married. We are planning a family celebration in the fall.

Part of our winter vacation was spent sorting out move logistics – pickup of possessions, cleaning service on rental house, veterinary appointment for the cat, etc. Due to some paperwork snafus, we could not purchase plane tickets until two days prior to the move. As we also had to move a cat (more about this in a future entry), that was cutting it close, and we had to rebook them because initially we were booked in a code-share that did not allow pets. In addition, to my everlasting sadness, the short notice meant that we could not book business class tickets. Alas. We got the tickets, got our possessions packed up, and moved out of Austin on January 15th, the one-month anniversary of our courthouse ceremony.

-Aileen

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