I can’t believe it’s already July. Quaran-time has been such an interesting new aspect – where February seemed long, and March seemed never ending, but April, May, and June seemed to have been squished into the confines of one calendar month. At least that’s how I feel.
In February, just before Valentine’s Day (pre-COVID-19), I was let go from the lifestyle store startup on Balboa I had been with since August. After a bit of time processing the very sudden notice and then moping about it, I decided to take advantage of the sudden free time and travel. I headed up to San Francisco to see a friend for the weekend. Then Tom and I drove up PCH to Yosemite, stopping in Solvang and San Luis Obispo on the way. We stayed at Camp Four and hiked to the peak of Upper Yosemite Falls. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding and stunning experiences I’ve had – and I can’t wait to get back and do Half Dome. Then I hopped on another flight to Chicago to see my friends from college. It was a great little break, and it was such a treasure to travel so much, especially without knowing what would go down within the next week. I left for Chicago on March 4th. I returned home on March 11th. The current administration declared a national emergency on March 13th, and California’s shelter in place orders came on the 20th.
On my last day in Chicago, I was out on my own since my friends had big-girl jobs to attend to. I went to a cafe across from the Art Institute for breakfast & tea and to journal about the incredible meals and cocktails I’d had over the course of the week. While there, an eldery couple sat down for their breakfast across from me. They spent the next 45 minutes solely talking about the Coronavirus, what needed to be done but was not being done, and their fears and angers.
I thought it was crazy that they could talk about the virus for 45 minutes straight. And now you can’t have a conversation without it being the main subject, or at least occupying your thoughts as you attempt a non-virus related conversation. Hindsight can be ironic.
My flight home was seamless, but just three days later O’Hare had shoulder-to-shoulder crowds waiting 6 hours for bags. My timing was as good as it could’ve been. That Sunday, March 15th, my family and I began sheltering in place.
March was spent adjusting to everyone being in the same place, together, 24/7. I spent most of my time stress-cooking and -baking and -eating and -cooking again. April came and the most exciting part of the month was the weekend trip we took out to our desert house for Easter to see my dad (who had been living out there since he was forced to continue working). We were still all together, all inside, but the change of location was an actual treat.
And then, on April 28th, while Tom and I were doing a puzzle, he got a call from the Los Alamitos National Guard with orders to leave for Fort Rucker, Alabama on May 1st to begin his training to be an aviation officer. Shocking would be an understatement. Tom had just been interviewed and accepted the month prior, and it typically can take a year or more to get called to report. So the next few days were spent celebrating, packing, planning, stressing, and hitting the road.
We drove to Phoenix to stay with Tom’s brother, Andy, then were off to Albuquerque, then Dallas to stay with my friend, Sadie, and finally, Enterprise, Alabama. I turned 23 somewhere in Mississippi, which seems a fitting start to this already unexpected year.
We unpacked Tom’s car, my single duffle bag parking itself in our closet for the next few weeks. We blew up the air mattress, ordered a bunch of stuff online, and stocked up on groceries from the local super-WalMart. And then we quarantined for 2 weeks, only leaving for essentials like groceries and wearing a mask while doing so.
Once that was over, Tom started in-processing and I flew home on May 27th for my little sister, Tatum’s, graduation. Montgomery to Dallas to Chicago to Santa Ana. It was an exhausting, anxiety-ridden trip. After spending weeks with only Tom and a couple grocery trips as my social interactions, having to spend 12+ hours constantly surrounded by strangers, many of whom were not wearing masks, was a real test. But I made it home, put all my clothes and my mask in a bag to be washed, washed my hands, touched my face (which was the best thing ever after purposefully not doing so for 12 hours), showered, and cuddled my dogs & my cat.
Then I spent the next few weeks planning my own move, distanced-visiting and saying see-ya-soons to friends and family, purchasing a car, calling and calling Uhaul until I got in touch with their seemingly only competent employee who then set me up with a wire harness and a trailer reservation, and packing up my own stuff (and stealing a few things from my parents, as one does). I also spent a lot of time googling “road tripping with a cat”.
Late June 22nd, my mom, my Uma, Gnocchi, and I headed out to the desert house. We got Uma settled and headed to bed. The next day, Mom, Gnocchi and I said our goodbyes to Uma and headed to Albuquerque. After days of worrying about how Gnoch would do in the car, I learned he is a total road trip champ! From Albuquerque we drove to Linwood, Texas. At both of our hotels we used Hilton’s “digital key” option and never had to come in contact with anyone, which made us both feel better about having to stay in hotels. On our last day of travel, we woke up early and arrived in Enterprise in the early evening.
And now I live in Enterprise, Alabama. 2,168 miles from my childhood home in California.
Tom and I were worried that my job would be too good to leave and we’d have to do long distance again for his time in flight school. But then I was let go, and then there was a pandemic and a hiring freeze, and then we were moving to Alabama. Again, hindsight tells me that things in my life happened in a way that, while appearing to be unfortunate, actually put me in a position to start this new adventure. And I am so ready to begin something new.
Thanks for taking the time to read through. Love you lots ❤