When Plans Change

I wasn’t in the market for a house…

I definitely wasn’t in the market for a house that resembled a spaceship. Seriously, imagine if someone stole Epcot center, made it rustic, plunked it in the middle of nowhere, and threw in a couple geometric skylights for good measure. But when such a home inserted itself in my Instagram feed, my soul began to sing a song I hadn’t realized I’d known the lyrics to.

“This geodesic dome is a ten-minute bike ride to a beach that is great for surfing,” read the description. I do not surf; I can barely ride a bike. But suddenly, this whole new life played out before my eyes. There were long hikes and lush gardens and quiet nights falling asleep to the sound of crickets. It all culminated with an image of me as a cool surfing grandma. I wanted it to begin as soon as possible.

To be clear, I write this not from a spaceship-home (someone else bought it), but from day 117 inside my Brooklyn apartment, at the table that multitasks as living room, dining room, and office. For now, my spaceship forest oasis remains the stuff of daydreams. Still, whenever I need a little mental getaway, you can find me scrolling through listings of homes in the desert, near the beach, in the mountains, in the woods… in the last few months, my daydreams, like many of my plans, have changed.

I still love my apartment. I still love my city. I still love my little family that I share it all with. But this world is not yesterday’s world, nor is it tomorrow’s. Before, I never dreamed of space, because it felt like the whole world was right outside my door. When that suddenly shut down, it brought a lot of things into question.

“Now that we’re spending so much time at home, the place where we live has never felt more important,” said one friend, who is the new mom to a three-month-old baby. She and her husband are currently weighing the options of larger apartments, even if they might come with longer (eventual) commutes.

“We’ve been looking at houses in the (Virginia) suburb where I grew up,” says another friend. “Which I never thought I would have considered, but given everything that’s happening, having help with childcare and being able to assist older family members is a hard thing to pass up.”

“First, I got furloughed. Then the following month, my partner’s company shut down. That happened at the same time as our lease renewal, and we thought, why stay?” This from a friend who recently left New York and is currently starting over in Nashville.

One by one, so many friends have exited the city. Some have gone in search of different school systems, others to be near family. Others are after that elusive thing for many urban dwellers: space. Some have canceled weddings, others have sped up their long-term plans. After hard times, they are in search of soft landings. Or at least, a place to stand on solid ground.

This year, many of our lives have changed, some in drastic ways. We find ourselves in places — literal and figurative – that we never imagined. I used to think I couldn’t live in a place that wasn’t going, going all the time. But that lifestyle hasn’t been possible for some time now, and — spoiler alert — I’m fine. Because I’d like to believe there’s always a silver lining, perhaps it is becoming reacquainted with our priorities.

If there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s that maybe I’m not who I thought I was. Maybe I’ve changed, or maybe I’ve been this person all along and have only just realized. There is nothing like a fork in the road to introduce us to ourselves, to show us who we are and what we’re really made of.

The last six months have been full of questions; maybe the next six will offer some answers. I can’t predict what that might look like, nor what it might mean. Maybe I’ll be a surfing grandma, after all.

Have your plans changed? What have you learned about yourself in these last few months? Would love to hear.

P.S. The power of a good quote and how has your life surprised you?

(Photo by Caroline Donofrio.)