Apparently I’ve run out of things to complain about, aside from the occasional gripe about the glossiness of the paint on the office walls which was supposed to be flat. There is little in my life that I can truly complain about, especially in light of the current events unfolding after the earthquake in Japan this week.
Let’s live a little, shall we?
Both my wife and I have discussed changing things up a bit lately-doing something more radical than switching to LED light bulbs in the living room, for example.
I even agonized publicly about a few new flying options on my personal blog last month.
Fortunately for airline pilots, there’s an easy way to thoroughly turn your life upside down-at my company, all it takes is a simple keystroke on the computer: 3P/LGA/767/FO/I.
For those of you who aren’t fluent in SABRE codes, that means that I have officially transferred to NY. I’ll be flying the same airplane, thus saving myself six weeks of simulator and ground school training. Nevertheless, it’ll add some commuting time to my day.
I’ve been fortunate in my career to fly from an airport in Boston that’s just an easy hour drive from my home in New Hampshire. I heeded the advice of my brother, a former commuter from Seattle to Chicago.
“Commuting turns a good deal into an or-deal.” He’d say.
But my wife and I aren’t stopping there. Since New York is rather nearby to our home in New England, we decided to do something really extreme (for our family at least), and move to Germany.
For a year.
Paying back a debt
When I asked Linda to marry me, she was more than half way through a degree at Swansea University in Wales. She gave up her degree aspiration temporarily to join me in Alaska. And then Queens. Then Long Island. Followed by three places in Dallas. And on to Denver, then New Jersey before finally landing in New Hampshire which we’ve enjoyed for the past twelve years.
But now it’s payback time. Linda has been attending a nearby university part time, but she wants to study full-time to get her German and English teaching degree sooner.
Studying in Germany, where her mom could watch the kids while I was away at work and she was attending classes, seemed like a surprisingly logical idea when she mentioned it. Not only that, the kids, ages 9 and 5, could really hone their German language skills (i.e. be able to say more than “guten tag.”)
As a pilot, it’s possible to live pretty much anywhere in the world. We have crew members based in New York who live in Anchorage, and a few who live in Europe and fly out of the northeastern United States.
“I can do anything for a year.” I told Linda. And deep down, I know I owe her. She never complained about our moves while I was chasing flying jobs for cargo and passenger operators around the country.
How about the rest of the family?
The kids are surprisingly excited about the temporary relocation. Every night at dinner we’ve been practicing our German vocabulary and they’re able to retain what they’ve learned far better than I can.
To be honest, my German language skills are limited to about ten words. But this experience can only help me get serious about learning more, I’m sure.
So the plan is to rent our furnished house for a year, pack up the pets and just a few ‘comfort’ items and move to the village where Linda herself grew up, near Cologne.
The 3,700 mile commute
My plan is to back up my trips, so that I’ll fly two, three or four three-day Europe flights in a row, with 26-hour breaks after each Atlantic crossing. Instead of a crashpad or hotel near the airport, I’ll be staying with a friend in Manhattan, where I can keep some clothes and do laundry.
If I align my schedule right, I may be able to fly nine or twelve days in a row, followed by nine or twelve days off. This will limit the time spent in the back of an airplane and train riding to and from Brussels or Frankfurt and New York.
It sounds tiring, but commuting responsibly, with 26 hours off before starting my trips should make it easier.
Of course there are so many questions about being an ‘expatriate.’ Do I have to pay taxes in the U.S. and Germany? Will my health insurance cover the family overseas? Will the pets have to be quarantined? How do we even transport two cats to Europe? What kind of car should we buy? (Linda has vetoed my choice of a used Alfa Romeo, unfortunately).
As I searched online, one website, How To Germany continued to pop up that answered almost all of my questions.
We’re still looking into those questions, and Linda is currently in Germany signing up the kids for school. I still expect someone to throw a wrench into the whole process at any point.
“You can’t do that. It is verboten!” I imagine someone saying as we apply for a residency permit. But so far, we haven’t run into any roadblocks.
Alas, the perfect writing cubicle
So you should see more posts now that I’ll be spending more time in the back of an airplane, a place where I’m the most productive when writing, since there’s no internet available and few distractions.
And I suspect I’ll have some things to talk about, especially since the two European destinations I’ve been flying to from Boston, London and Paris, will expand to so many more out of New York such as Rome, Barcelona, Budapest, Milan, Madrid, Manchester, Brussels, Zurich and even Rio.
Since today’s Gadling theme is focused around Europe, I’m looking forward to reading about the other parts of the continent I’ll need to visit according to the rest of the Gadling team. In exchange, I’ll be sure to let them know where they can score some LED light bulbs.
All photos by the author.
Cockpit Chronicles takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as an international co-pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 based in Boston. Have any questions for Kent? Check out the Cockpit Chronicles Facebook page or follow Kent on Twitter @veryjr.