10 years ago, in Te Awanga, New Zealand, this happened…
Look at those kids! So happy, so young. This was the culmination of a big year for us, one in which we were planning our wedding in conjunction with planning our move to New York. We got married at Elephant Hill, a winery in Hawkes Bay, on the last day of 2010. It was a beautifully sunny day, and a big one. We made it through to see in 2011 but only just.
We spent 2011 living in New York. Hayden’s business took off, and I started freelancing as a communications specialist. We had an apartment in Murray Hill that we (and many visiting friends from overseas!) made the most of. We holidayed in Napa Valley over summer, and explored New York and the tri-state area extensively, with trips to Hunter Mountain for skiing, the Finger Lakes for boating and wine, and Connecticut for family friends and house spotting.
Here we are at Harvard! This holiday is still one of the standouts in my memories. We went to Boston, Cambridge, Cape Cod and Nantucket. Life-wise, we moved from Murray Hill to the Upper West Side, to a walk-up apartment that was long on charm and short on kitchen and bathroom space. Hayden’s business kept growing and I kept freelancing. 2012 was a stellar year.
Auckland! This visit, at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013, stands out in my mind as the first time since I left, nearly seven years earlier, that I thought I could actually stand to live in Auckland again…and good thing too, because eight months later, after a series of setbacks, disappointments, and frustrations, I left New York for Auckland for good. I came back to an amazing job, a nice apartment, and a city that was much better than the Auckland I had left behind, but I left my husband in New York, so that was hard. To say the least. Long distance is not easy or fun. This was a hard year.
The good thing about long-distance relationships is the travel! Hayden and I made a commitment to each other that we’d see each other at least once every three months, and we managed that (and more!). I was able to spend a few weeks at a time working remotely from New York, and Hayden was able to do the same from New Zealand sometimes. This photo was taken on a holiday though – Cape Cod again! We spent a week in Provincetown, and again, it shot straight to near the top of my ‘best holidays’ list very quickly. I just love the Cape. 2014 was a much better year than 2013, not least because by the end of the year, a bunch of my furniture, my cat, and my husband had all joined me in New Zealand!
Hayden had been back in the country a matter of weeks when I casually suggested we take a drive to Mangawhai to check out a few properties. A few days later, this piece of land was ours. Haha, whoops…but also, best decision ever! I also started my Masters this year, but other than that, we were kind of quiet. Just worked, studied, holidayed close to home (Wellington, Queenstown, Hawkes Bay, Fiji, Australia…) and built our house!
Oh, HELLO. Another year in which everything changed! Finding out I was pregnant at the beginning of 2016 was just the most amazing feeling…up until I had Amelie and felt the sort of love that I didn’t even know was possible. This photo was chosen in part because I’m looking down so you can’t see how tired I was (although Hayden’s face gives you a clue, haha). All the same, it was the absolutely happiest time, after a long time when we weren’t sure we’d get to experience that. We also got to spend the year between Auckland and Mangawhai in our newly-completed house, and we bought a beautiful apartment off-plan. Good, good times.
2017 ended up being a year of travel! I was on maternity leave with our delightful daughter for the first half of the year, and we spent many, many weekends away, both up in Mangawhai and all over New Zealand. Before I went back to work we took Amelie to California and to New York. It was an amazing holiday and such a wonderful way to mark the end of my maternity leave.
Ah, the year we realised that toddlers were hard work. In this photo, we were in Fiji on Tokoriki Island, trying to re-create the relaxing holiday we’d enjoyed in 2015. You know what’s not relaxing though? Tropical islands with toddlers. We spent a LOT of time making sure our daredevil 18-month old didn’t run headfirst into the swimming pool, or sprint out of our eyesight in a sneaky bid to escape back to the playground. Once we’d worked out that it was different but could still be great, though, we had an amazing time (kind of the theme for the whole year, to be honest). Because we learnt nothing and we’re suckers for punishment, we took her to Australia later that year as well. And we moved into our new apartment halfway through the year!
Happy in our favourite place. This was my last year of study and that absorbed a lot of our time and attention. We also both started in new roles at new organisations in 2019. Mine was awesome and a great decision…Hayden’s proved to be rather less so unfortunately. On the bright side he worked that out quickly, left, and started his own business! We went to Hawaii and Queenstown this year, but other than that it was a year of settling into our apartment and enjoying our town and country life. In fact, life was so good and settled that I decided to start blogging again! At the end of the year I created my first 101 in 1001 list, full of plans for all the travel we wanted to do, and all the things I wanted to do in my career, and all the improvements I wanted to make to our apartment and our holiday home. You know what happened next…
So things changed in 2020. Just like they did for everybody. This is the year we all went home, the year we changed our lives, the year Amelie turned four and I turned 37, the year I graduated, the year I realised staying put in one country isn’t so bad (especially when it’s this country). As I look back over the last 10 years, I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t change a thing, even in the harder years. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, and that I’ve got to do all these things alongside my favourite person (since 2016, my favourite people!) It’s exciting to look back and remember, and also to wonder what the next ten years will bring. Will we buy more property? Will I go back for further study? What will my next new pair of sunglasses look like? So many questions. I’m looking forward to answering them with you!
Happy New Year. Wishing you all a wonderful night and a truly wonderful 2021. See you next year!