Relationships

How Have Your Plans Changed These Days?

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.)

  1. I have just quit a job I started in December that was making me deeply unhappy. I have some freelance work lined up that will keep me going for a month and my Etsy shop which can provide me with a few days salary a week and at the moment that’s it. I’ve never quit a job with nothing else lined up before and to do so when people are being laid off left, right and centre, feels crazy. Maybe it is. I’ll let you know in a year.

  2. Elle says...

    We just relocated to Oregon from Chicago a couple of years ago, almost exactly. I am pretty thankful we are not living in the close quarters we were, though I love city living almost more than anyone. Now, we have a home, a backyard, albeit built into a mountain with terrible slope, and space and freedom to make as much noise as we please. I miss living on the water in Chicago and the community and easy access to so many things and places, but now, we can drive to the Ocean in a couple of hours and change our scenery in magnificent ways with a short road trip. I still miss the city, and hope to live in another buzzing place someday, but for now, am incredibly grateful we’re here in the PNW.

  3. Lauren E. says...

    I think this will change New York City as we know it. I have so many friends in industries that have all but shut down (Broadway/theater, restaurants, movies, TV, nightlife) and they have no other choice but to leave the city. It breaks my heart.

    It’s also made me think twice about proximity to nature. I feel locked into this island and it’s making me itch for a patch of grass and fresh air.

  4. Courtney says...

    This article really resonated with me! My husband and I recently made the decision to move to a much smaller beach community and out of Boston. One of our friends said we were “fleeing”, and I corrected her that we are reprioritizing and realizing what is most important to us. We also had a baby 1 day before MA went into lockdown, so we’ve had a lot of reasons to reprioritize lately :)

  5. Ramya says...

    This! 100% this!

    “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.”

  6. ScaredAs says...

    I’ve been wanting to end my 33 year relationship for 6 years. Since I realized that he was (yes, perhaps I’m a slow learner or I was fooled by the perfect prison) a COVERT NARCISSIST.
    COERCIVE CONTROL for 33 years is not healthy.
    Realizing it is heart-stoppingly fear inducing.
    DOING something about it as a pandemic envelopes the world is almost impossible. But. I. Am.
    I’ve actually told the remaining 5 people in my lufe who were totally fooled by the perfect picture sham we both portrayed. Now, the trugh is out, I’m compelled to follow through.
    He’s using every manipulative tool he can muster yo suck me into his web again, butthe begging me to change my mind is gut wrenching.
    Strangely, yes, I still have love for him, but I hate how he’s treated me.
    I can envisage a life on my own, no rules but my own, much less money, a tiny home, but oxygen to breathe, places to go without permission, joining clubs, no-one jabbering esoteric mumbojumbo at me24/7 …. so much more!
    I’m crapping myself and crying myself to sleep every night, he too, in separate rooms.
    I’m grieving the loss of him and he’s not dead, yet I cannot wait.
    There. Is. Nothing. For. Sale. Right. Now. I’m trapped.
    I have been so isolated I have nowhere to go.
    It will come, but this is so hard as I’m going through chemotherapy too.
    This is the first time I’ve actually written this down.
    Such is this CoJ Community safe place.
    Thank you. x

    • anni says...

      You are not alone! I just had to respond to tell you that you have SO MUCH support as you step into this really hard thing! something tells me you are passing through the very hardest part now…

    • AN says...

      You are so strong. You will thrive again. I believe in you.

    • Elle says...

      Sending so many well wishes and added strength your way. I hope things get better for you with this new strength and chapter of your life.

    • B says...

      You can do this – you are stronger than you think/stronger than you’ve been led to believe that you are. You may feel trapped physically right now, but you’re escaping the mental trap you’ve been in for so long.

      You’ve got this…his continuing manipulation is desperation.

    • Sasha L says...

      It’s never too late to get out and start again. I’m so proud of you for the courage this takes. You can do it. We all believe in you.

    • nadine says...

      Sending you a hug Scaredas. A few years ago I decided to end a long relationship that didn’t work and it was the best decision I could make. I am proud to have been strong to do it, the transition sucked but afterwards the feeling was liberating.
      Thank you for sharing with us. I’ll be looking forward to when you will share with us how your life turned page and how you found your new freedom.
      Wishing you strength, peace and luck. xo

  7. Kristin says...

    My husband and I live in Manhattan and we’ve been house hunting in CT and Westchester for the past month. So many of the things that we love NYC are not available. On top of that, as the city’s budget is cut, we think crime will rise. Homelessness is already so much worse than it was a year ago and with fewer garbage pickups and street cleanings the boroughs will be filthy. We also desperately need a yard where we can be outside in 90+ degree weather and not wear a mask. I love our little apartment but it’s time to reevaluate the way we live.

  8. MEG says...

    Quarantine has made me more grateful than ever for the house we live in and the city we call home. We are lucky to have walking trails, retail + restaurants, my folks, and my best friend all within walking distance. We bought a kegerator and have been hosting a couple of friends in the evenings on our deck for drinks and social time. I am concerned about losing my job in the near future because my industry has been hit hard by COVID restrictions, but I have been saving as much as possible during quarantine so I have a cushion in case I find myself having to make a career change. Learning to live more in the present and being grateful in the moment.

  9. Emily says...

    Caroline,
    Would you mind sharing which cool-homes-for-sale Instagram accounts you follow please? I love this idea!
    Emily

  10. Nikki says...

    Let’s see.

    What didn’t change: My fiance and I are definitely moving overseas to Japan for three years for his military assignment with the USMC. End of August. It’s been the end of August since October, Covid or no Covid.

    What DID change: Our wedding plans. FOUR times. We NEED to get married before we go (so I can go lol). Originally we were having a huge southern city wedding. We are still having a wedding. Now small, outdoors and in a vineyard. It will be laid back with no dancing, no hugging, lots of masks, lots of hand sanitizer and lots of distance. But in some ways, it will be more us. Outside with just great beer, a bluegrass band, an ice cream truck, and just a small amount of family and friends.

    I’m trying to not focus and dwell on the hard stuff: I can’t see my grandparents before I leave, I’ll miss the birth of my twin sister’s baby (it won’t be safe to fly back and immediately see them), my brother can’t attend my wedding, etc etc etc and instead focus on the good. We are just so damn lucky to be alive.

    • Olivia says...

      This post resonates with me so deeply. The mix of really hard (missing family events) and really good things (marriage). I am also reinventing my wedding outdoors and at a distance with 10 family members. This only our second re-plan. I in awe of the grace you have on re-plan #4. May your wedding be joyful and celebratory. (I’m off to google ice cream trucks… brilliant!)

    • celeste says...

      Congratulations! I know it is stressful but your new plan sounds perfect.

  11. This whole essay is really hitting home right now, but especially the part about houses! My husband and I have been apartment-dwellers for more than a decade, separately then together, starting in Philadelphia, PA and eventually making our way to Charlottesville, VA. We’ve always loved it and never felt the need for more space (or more things to fill that space).

    Fast forward to quarantine in a two-bedroom apartment (the biggest home we’ve lived in together), throw in a 3.5 year old, and then one parent gets COVID, and we’re all stuck inside…

    And suddenly, we find ourselves deciding that we’re going to buy a house in the next 12 months instead of renewing our lease. Nothing big, because we still want to live near the downtown and Charlottesville real estate is pricey. But wow, does the idea of a deck and a yard sound heavenly!

  12. Julia says...

    What most of us begin to see more clearly, is what they prioritize in their lives, and many of us come to appreciate the most simple, yet the most precious things: a good relation with their family members, a fulfilling conversation with a friend, fresh air…
    I definitely learned that it is so much more important to really listen to each other than to consume things.

  13. Aly says...

    Lovely writing as usual Caroline.

    I just moved back to NYC in March from six years in California, right when the apocalypse hit. It’s amazing to see so many people leave, but I think many will regret it. Yes, it’s not the same city it once was right now. But it’s NYC — it will rise from whatever ashes are left and become something new. It’s done so many many times before. And it will be different than before, but I can’t wait to see the new version.

  14. K says...

    i think this has been a really clarifying time for what matters, but also bittersweet to realize what i assumed as a given was not. feels like spring cleaning for thoughts and ideas.

    it also can be stressful to realize what i “need” (i.e. space) is not always clearly attainable, not without loss and risks. But hey, nothing in life is risk-free!

    there’s saying i’m gonna go with the flow, and there’s being compelled to be okay with going with the flow when the outside world is overwhelmingly precarious.

  15. Liz says...

    After a long, long period of feeling in limbo, at the start of the year it felt like everything was lining up. I’m ten years into my career, but every job I’ve taken is a compromise or stepping stone – not really what I wanted but I’ve taken because “it might lead to something else”. Husband and I have been desperately trying to get out of our home town for most of the past decade, both for our sense of adventure and to get more work experience than what I can get here, but also period of back-to-back heartbreaks like his best friend ending his own life – we wanted a fresh start somewhere. My current job seemed to finally be the stepping stone that would lead to what I wanted, I just had to get through a period of related but not-really-my-jam work, finish a final piece of work around May, and then my employer would support me to get a transfer overseas. Except then covid happened. I really doubt anyone will be travelling in the next year, maybe longer. Which for many is fine, but I’m 34, and really wanted to make this move in the next six months and settle into a situation with support networks etc where we could perhaps start thinking about having a family – something I don’t want to delay. I feel so much tension between getting the runs on the career board I want, and doing the travel we want, before bunkering down into baby land. I know people say you can travel with kids, but people’s risk appetites changes, and for a female breadwinner, the reality is things are just going to be different during the childbearing years. On the flip side, it seems so wild to want to be anywhere else right now other than in my home town where things are comparatively calm to the rest of the world. I know I should be grateful for a job at all, and I am, and I feel so much guilt for being so weighed down by this like a spoilt brat when I know so many others are doing it so much tougher. But it just feels so cruel that I might have to relinquish my dreams after working I’ve been working my a** off towards them for so long.

  16. Sylvie says...

    My husband and I have been trying to adopt a child for almost 3 years. It’s been a hard and emotional process and full of disappointments, and that’s before the pandemic hit New York City so hard. We are trying to adopt independently (not through an agency but through a lawyer) and that means being chosen by the child’s first parent/s. New York has not been a place most people want to consider these days for the future home of their child. So while we’ve been struggling to get by, stuck in our apartment, surviving COVID, and watching our community suffer, we’ve also had to recognize and accept that our own dream of starting a family might not happen. Not giving up though! New York and I are survivors. And whether we have a child in our family or not, my partner and I know we are lucky to have each other.

  17. Emily says...

    I’m pregnant for the first time and was entering my 2nd trimester when the pandemic hit. I’m trying to stay positive, but a combination of pregnancy hormones and the grief that comes with dashed expectations has me weeping daily. I’m living outside of the US with my foreign spouse, and in the past days it’s become clear that borders will not be opening in time for my mother and sister to be here with me – to fold baby clothes, to pack my hospital bag, and to fawn over the tiny baby boy that comes home with me from the hospital. I have no idea how old he’ll be by the time my family gets to meet him.

    Through therapy, I’ve learned that it’s ok to feel robbed. I felt immense guilt in the beginning – spending so much time feeling sorry for myself when others are suffering far more than I am. But this pandemic is a tragedy for all of us, in many small and big ways. And it’s ok to grieve.

    • Katharine says...

      My pregnancy is on the same timeline as yours—I feel these feelings too! It’s really hard. At least my growing body has been a reminder of time moving forward, when everything else stood still.

  18. I think that, because I’ve worked pretty solidly all through lockdown, my plans now involve finding a way of reducing my hours. The time I’ve had to get away from it all has been so precious and rewarding, that time chewing my way through research or managing social media or any of the other 5000 tasks I currently do, feels less nourishing, less worthy.
    A career change is on the cards!

    • Holly says...

      I feel this too. For me, it’s tied up with the urge to move, since my demanding career is necessary to live in my extremely expensive city (San Francisco). Now that the city is suddenly offering very few of its benefits, and I’m not missing them nearly as much as I thought I would, why am I working my butt off to live here??! Existential COVID questions…

  19. Nina says...

    I have spent some weeks in my apartment and some weeks in my boyfriend’s dad’s house. It has made me realize my apartment is a really great place for me/us NOW, but eventually we would like somewhere a little more quiet with some outdoor space.

  20. Nina Dhollande says...

    cool surfing grandma…life goals

  21. Sally says...

    Before March 23rd, I was go go go. I had an “almost full time” proper job that I’d do between 8 – 3pm, then I’d shoot off and work a few hours at my own tutoring business. My little business was really starting to grow. I was putting more and more hours in, and just feeling great about it.

    Then it was all gone. I was furloughed from the “proper” job, and my little business just shut down over night. I’ve really mourned the loss of both.
    I’m currently furloughed until September 13th, but after that, who knows? I’ve mourned the loss of a lifestyle I treasured. I loved my Saturday morning cafe hour. I loved getting the train into London for the weekend and seeing some shows. I loved having a disposable income – and I took it for granted. In the last 4 months, beyond bills and groceries, I bought 2 books and a new frying pan. I haven’t had any takeout because I couldn’t justify the cost, I couldn’t afford to donate to any of the healthcare charities, or the BLM movement. I couldn’t do a thing, even though I wanted to so bad. It really hurt. I could see all the pain around me, but all I could do was close in on my little world, and concentrate on paying my own rent.

    But now, 4 months in, I’m trying so hard to accept the tiny size of my life right now. And trying to appreciate that I may never have this sustained period of rest ever again. I’m learning to appreciate the tiny things. I get up when I’m fully rested. I go to bed when I’m actually tired. I eat when I’m actually hungry. If I’m tired in the mid-afternoon, I take a nap. I’ve learnt to listen to my body in a really intimate way, that I never had before. I was always too busy, too dependent on the clock. And that’s a lesson that I will try and take forwards.
    Listen to what your body is telling you.

    • Rusty says...

      I don’t get why your tutoring could not be done online??
      Isn’t it even more helpful with home schooling and all?

    • Jules says...

      Rusty – Being a tutor for many years, I would imagine that parents and families might not be able to afford a tutor right now. It’s definitely not free. On top of that added expense, they may also have the extra time to help their children sort through the material.

  22. Rose says...

    I got very, very lucky and my landlord let me out of my lease when the pandemic hit. I moved into my parents’ house and have been working remotely. Because of these serendipitous circumstances, I’ve been able to put the money that I would have spent on rent, gas, etc. into my grad school savings account. During the past few months I’ve realized that yes, I DO want to get a Master’s degree. And COVID actually made that dream more financially accessible. It seems too good to be true when so many others have been furloughed or laid off, and I try to remember how fortunate I am!

  23. KM says...

    Plans have changed in that we no longer have any plans. My husband and I are having our first baby in a matter of weeks. We live in Australia and all of our family live in Canada. All plans for anyone to come and meet the baby have been suspended indefinitely. We had planned to move back to Canada within the next year – a road trip with a new baby and a dog across Australia, a long haul flight, and a road trip across North America to finally bring us home….. The move has been suspended indefinitely.
    For the first time ever, we don’t know when we will see any of our family again.
    I am a very type A person, I love planning things and we have had to just throw our hands in the air and say…. “it is what it is”, “we will come home when we can”, “at least you can meet the baby over FaceTime”
    It has been very difficult but at the same time, knowing we can’t change any of it has helped us to accept it. Because what else can you do? Private jets are too expensive, I’ve already looked!

    • Rusty says...

      Enjoy the safety of the “lucky country” that you’re trapped in. Your situation could be so much worse. I understand it’s not what you planned and that hurts, but you’re safe in Australia.

  24. Holly says...

    I relate so deeply to all of this, especially the “spoiler alert: I’m fine.” My husband and I are both shocked at how happy we can be without restaurants, bars, live music venues, etc. So why tf are we so set on living in the middle of one of the most expensive cities in the world? I am obsessed with Zillow. The hardest part is knowing when and how to pull the trigger since everything feels so uncertain right now.

    • Kristin says...

      Yes! I am in Manhattan and feel the same way.

  25. SB says...

    Such a good pondering question and posed in a positive way. The situation around COVID has taught me a lot about my mental resilience. I work for an NGO in a developing country and at the beginning of the pandemic all international staff were given a choice to stay or leave. 6 of us chose to stay and about 35 left/remained out of country.

    It has been overwhelming in so many ways, not the least that our org normally suggests we do only 8 weeks in country at a time – I’m currently entering week 22. Work has been full-on and while I’ve been protected in my bubble (literally have left the compound about 6 times since mid-March), but hearing from my local colleagues about their experiences, how their lives are being impacted – it’s made everything quite visceral.

    COVID has taught me I can handle more than I thought, but it’s also made me start rethinking this development-humanitarian lifestyle a bit…and that maybe it would be better to be closer to home/more accessible…lots to ponder…

  26. Hanna says...

    My partner and I are apartment hunting right now! During the past year we lived a few blocks apart, and luckily my roommates agreed to pod with my partner and their roomate during the stay home order. But now we are looking for a place of our own! Its a lot of emotions – normal moving stress plus covid! – but I feel glad planning for the next twelve months, and finding a place of our own.

  27. K says...

    We’re deciding whether or not to make a COVID-related change or not. We moved to Colombia to teach with our two young children last year. We loved it (especially as the year went on and we weren’t in such culture shock). We came home to Colorado at the beginning of the pandemic and continued to teach and work online. Now we need to decide if we’re going back when airports open in September (we have plane tickets….) or if we quit and live with my parents for the year and homeschool the kids/skip teaching this year. Our city in Colombia has fairly low COVID cases and people take precautions very seriously and the health system isn’t overwhelmed (other cities aren’t doing as well). But we’d still be far away from family if something happened on either end….but we also don’t know if we’re ready/want to just quit and be done. It’s a really hard choice with lots of pros and cons on either side. The exhaustion from not knowing a firm plan and trying to make a decision with incomplete information and two not-great options is really starting to wear on us. Yet at the end of the day, we’re still grateful that we have choices and we can think about what we want and act accordingly. We’re very lucky compared to many.

  28. Naomi Harris says...

    Such an interesting question, the comments are fascinating! Well, Caroline, if you do ever A truly wish to move into a funky (or regular!) house, we’ve got tons here upstate & I’d be happy to help you!
    Xx naomi, realtor
    @real.estate.in.upstate

  29. D says...

    The biggest change for me is not necessarily pandemic related. I’d like to give you some news you may not otherwise hear: Despite all of the donations and declarations of support for Black/Brown Americans, the only thing that has changed in my (predominantly Black) Brooklyn neighborhood is that last month shooting incidents increased by more than 300 percent. Auto theft and burglaries have also gone up exponentially. And Mar-Jun of this year, people arrested due to possession of a weapon have been released without bail 93 percent of the time (according to data from the Brooklyn Office of Court Administration).
    Pre-pandemic I didn’t mind walking home from the train after a long day at work. Today, I am terrified of the day I will have to go back to the office. Grateful to WFH at least for now but I don’t feel safe taking a walk with my toddler as I did before the recent months. He is missing out on a simple but very important part of his day. He should be able to safely take a walk with mom and/or dad, shouldn’t he?
    If you donated your hard-earned money, please call your donation recipients and ask them exactly how they are helping communities of color. I would hope that they would at least speak out and take a stand against violence because the lives in my household and my block matter.

    • Wendy says...

      ❤️

    • S says...

      I couldn’t agree more! This is the news we don’t hear or maybe don’t want to hear.

    • Ibtisaam says...

      Has police presence decreased?

  30. Cay says...

    This seems to be a total opposite of what other people are experiencing, but I feel very recommitted to Brooklyn. My tiny apartment became my sanctuary. Prospect Park is suddenly the most important thing within walking distance. Most of my friends have stayed in their apartments nearby, and we’ve formed a quarantine pod. Seeing almost the entire city commit to distancing, masks, etc. has been really amazing (and most people have – the news focuses on the bad ones). I’m working out every day and have running group chats with friends I haven’t seen in years.

    It’s been a real treat to experience my tiny slice of NYC in such a concentrated way, at a slower pace. I’ve never had the chance to do that before. I think a lot of the people leaving voluntarily were always going to go, this just sped it up. I’m just currently terrified that I might not be able to stay if I lose my job.

    • Angie says...

      So wonderful to hear this from someone else. I’m also savoring my little slice of NYC right now! Thanks for sharing.

  31. Jean says...

    This has more to do with shorter term plans, but I live in a different city from my mom, who is high risk for COVID complications. We used to see each other once a month, but I’ve been afraid to visit with my kids, who are too little to understand social distancing. We finally made a plan to each do a 2-week strict quarantine, (seeing no one at all, one grocery store trip to last 2 weeks) get tested, and meet up in her city for a visit next week. I am so nervous. How have others handled seeing or not seeing family who are elderly and higher risk?

    • Laura says...

      It sounds like you are taking all the right precautions. Is it a short enough trip that you won’t have to stop on the way there? My parents are in high risk categories so we have been seeing them from 6 feet away outside only. Luckily we live not too far and my kids are old enough to understand social distancing. My parents really want closer contact, and we’ve had to tell them no, to protect them.

    • Michelle says...

      I haven’t seen them at all, and it’s difficult. Your plan seems like a good one – I hope the time you have together is great!

    • Fay says...

      Hi Jen! It sounds like you are doing everything to keep your mom safe. In case it helps with any reassurance, I’ve found Emily Oster’s analysis of COVID transmission risk–from child to adult–thoughtful and reassuring. Sharing in case it helps bring some peace of mind: https://emilyoster.substack.com/p/can-kids-transmit-the-virus. All of her posts are really helpful with these decisions.
      Hope you have a wonderful time with your mom!

    • Lisa says...

      My family is also strictly quarantined (not even going to grocery stores- get groceries delivered and then wipe everything with alcohol wipes). We didn’t see my mom for almost three moms (and we live three houses away!). Her doctor finally agreed if we were quarantining to the level she is then we are safe to form a pod and see her. She has to go to the doctor tomorrow and we won’t see her for 2 weeks (my daughter and I are also high risk, my mother is very high risk-free doctors have basically said if she gets it she likely wouldn’t survive). We take it very very seriously.

  32. DV says...

    This was an excellent article that really resonated with me. I believe many of us are discovering so many different facets of ourselves during these challenging times and being amazed at what we are uncovering

    • Kristiana says...

      100% agree with this!

  33. Alynexo says...

    I’m in a similar boat. Worked as travel publicist (cue laugh track) for years in NYC and it feels like February and now are totally different lives. I’m considering interning as I don’t want to leave the industry so if you’re still committed to your field of work, I’d recommend that you orbit in it and when the time is right (and this hell passes) you’ll find something!

  34. Amanda G says...

    Funny this question posted today. I’m at that fork in the road right now. I’m trying to think creatively and think realistically.
    The background: I’m an elementary teacher with underlying health conditions and my 20 month son is high risk too. As soon as my state sheltered in place in March, we pulled him from daycare and I taught from home. It was awful but it was safe. I was never a good mom AND a good teacher at the same time. This leads us into my current dilemma:
    Now with the uncertainty of fall and the school year looming ahead, I dont know what to do. I just got my masters in teaching for the income boost but am seriously considering resigning. I don’t want to have this decision between money, our health and safety as a family, as far as having to go back to school and teach in personand thus sending our son back into daycare. OR keeping him home while I teach from home if that ends up being what our state decides to do. As I mentioned it just didnt work well at all.
    Meanwhile we just put our house on the market because weve realized in quarantine how unsafe our house is with a toddler and currently have an offer on a house that would be so much easier and safer to live in(and more expensive).
    But now, tonight, I had the talk with my husband: Do we take back the offer on our dream house, sell this house to pay off debt, find a reasonable(cheap!) rental that is safer and I quit teaching to be home with our son. But realistically we have student loan debt, credit card debt, vehicle debt, etc. I dont know how we would do it.
    Who knows when anything will ever be normal again. That keeps running through my mind. What also runs through my mind is being a high risk individual, my future life may have to look different regardless of how the rest of the world goes back to normal. And our son may have a very different childhood than we ever imagined.
    Ahhhh! So many thoughts!

    • Mimi says...

      Amanda, My heart goes out to you. I completely understand as it was difficult for me to be a ft teacher & be a mom in a non-pandemic situation. Even though you just got your degree, perhaps you can teach during your toddler’s nap time– tutoring online, teaching English online, or even reach back to your teachers in the master’s program and ask if you can be an online TA for them. I know my two didn’t take naps past 3, 3/2 years old but I’m hoping you can still fill yourself up with a bit of teaching during the naptime that is available now. As for moving & selling, you may need to take a leap of faith and do it and eliminate extras so that you don’t stress over the debt. If you or your husband will stay awake at night worrying about the debt and loss of ft teaching income, then perhaps rethink the dream. Many times I had to live in an apt with toddlers in a 4 season area. I am grateful for fields to run and chase a ball in, puddles to jump in even for 10 minutes, charity shops for winter clothes that will only fit them one season, doing our version of tumbling at home, hello somersaults down the hall in the dead of winter. I’m sure you will do what’s best for you in these uncertain times. You’re a teacher!! You’ll come up with a creative and wonderful solution for you & your family– it just may be to think outside the box!

    • Lisa says...

      Amanda I am going through something similar. I’m an early childhood educator who was working at my daughter’s preschool. She and I are both high risk. Our school has said as of now we are returning 5 days a week on campus for all kids. My job has me work in 8 different classrooms. I couldn’t figure out how to do this safely so have said I can’t work on campus next year. We also pulled my daughter out of school. I have offered to do some virtual learning but that hasn’t been decided yet. I would honestly prefer not to and just focus on my daughter but we will see. It’s terrifying to imagine getting sick though.

  35. Lin says...

    My life has changed because my dad died of COVID 19. He was 85, alone, confused and suffering. It is a horrible way to end a life. I’m begging you to wear a mask.

    • Bonnie says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Lin. This is the most heart wrenching way to face change. “These days” sounds light and airy and these times are anything but.

    • Claire says...

      Lin, I am so sorry. Thinking of you in Texas. ❤️

    • Beth says...

      So sorry Lin! Will keep wearing my masks and sending you a hug!

    • H says...

      I am so sorry that your dad died. Your words touched me.

    • Colleen S says...

      I’m truly sorry for your loss. I’m also sorry that there are those out there who won’t wear a mask because they’re “healthy.”

    • Misty says...

      Sending love your way Lin. I lost my grandfather at 80 a few weeks ago… not to covid but he was confused and suffering due to Alzheimer’s and we could not visit him the last 3 months of his life due to covid restrictions at his assisted living facility. I feel your pain.

    • Michelle says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Lin.

  36. Thirty-three years of being ambivalent about having children, I am now off birth control, taking a leap of faith with my husband, and going for it!!

    These past few months, spent together in our 400 sq-ft space, have cast a beautiful light on our marriage – an illumination of the trust and gratitude we have for one another. As the uncertainty outside prevails, we are in the thick of incredible love within our microcosm. If I’ve learned anything through this pandemic, it’s that I want to share that kind of love – the kind that knows no bounds – with one of our own :) Here’s to the journey!

    • Sarah says...

      Good luck to youl

    • Mimi says...

      That was so beautifully written!! Good luck to you, Erica !!

    • Miranda says...

      so beautiful <3

  37. Tara says...

    At the beginning of COVID I spent five days in the hospital flat on my back with a non COVID very serious illness. Almost didn’t make it out. But I did and have spent the last five months home, sequestered, and thankful for very small things that make a very big life. My husband and children with me. Lots of baking. Good books. Quiet afternoons lying on the lawn just looking at the sky. I mean, really looking like when I was 15. Biking and singing with my phone playing loud music in my bike basket. One night I took a shower and rode around with wet hair as we used to do when little just to remind myself of what that felt like. Making sure each day I listen to something interesting and touch base with a friend to keep communicating. I am more awake then I have been in years. I am thankful and praying for others. Slow living. I’m here for it and can’t and won’t go back!

    • justine says...

      Aw wow, Tara. Lovely post. I’m so happy for you.

    • A says...

      Beautiful, Tara. Just beautiful.

  38. A says...

    Haven’t read all the comments yet, but I can’t help but wonder if it was this place, Carolyn?
    https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/12474

    My brother lived just a few minutes away from it in Pensacola and I always wondered about it. Here’s to surfer-granny goals of every stripe!

    • Amanda says...

      A – I thought the same thing/place! I grew up seeing that time after time when we went to the beach as a family. As a designer – I had a fantasy about living in it every time I saw it!

  39. Vanessa says...

    This spoke to my soul. My husband and I are leaving Brooklyn after 19 years to buy our first home – in the town where I grew up, Englewood NJ. I have such mixed feelings! Space! A yard with a pool! But… also no chance of running into Jo at Union Market and thanking her for the sausage kale and beans recipe! :) Or sitting next to incognito celebrities at dinner on Smith Street (Ki Sushi omakase platter, how will I live without you?) So many logistical challenges. Having a mortgage! Getting a drivers’ license! Registering to vote in time for the election! Arrrgh! Wish me luck, CoJ fam :)

    • brittany says...

      Good luck, vanessa!! you’ve got this!

    • oh good luck! Had to comment because the KSB is now in our weekly rotation as well, just made with vegetarian “sausage.” We also love to swap the kale for broccoli sometimes. I recommend this recipe to so many friends. Cheers to the KSB and new chapters!

    • Amy says...

      I live so much further away, so my thank you to Jo & co. for the KSB will just have to be here instead! :)

    • Misty says...

      Good luck Vanessa! How exciting!

    • Vanessa says...

      Aww, thank you guys. CoJ readers rule and we still make KSB pasta :) xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  40. Erin says...

    I’d say our plans have sped up. We had a lovely home in Portland, OR but had been planning to move to Colorado in 2021 to live near family (I already telework 100%). Since my husband can now telework as well, and we were fearful of what would happen with the housing market, we decided to speed things up. It was a very quick decision – we were on the road for our 18 hour drive to CO within a week of determining we should make the move. Luckily, we’ve found a rental and are in the process of closing on our house. I can’t say I would have normally liked the idea of a rapid cross country move and staying with my parents and two kids for a month – but frankly, it’s been a very welcome change of pace and has broken up the incredible mundaneness and tediousness associated with trying to work two full-time jobs and provide childcare for our 2 and 4 year olds. We feel very fortunate to be in our position, and one thing that’s been incredibly interesting is witnessing that the entire nation seems to be relocating and shuffling around from big cities to be closer to the grandparents. We’ve met several other families within my parents neighborhood doing the exact same thing!

  41. Such an honest, beautiful piece Caroline. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  42. AJ says...

    Oh PLEASE can we all be cool surfing grandmas! Let’s start a commune. Who’s in???

    • Sunnysusan says...

      Yes, count me in! <3

  43. Ariella Hartman says...

    I was looking at going back to school to become a teacher this year! It was going to be a scramble as it was but COVID and the uncertainty of daycare options has put that plan on ice. It has, though, helped me to decide to really pursue my writing career—teaching may be something I circle back to later on but my lack of emotion regarding the delay made me realize I was taking the cowards way out and disguising it as a decision made to benefit my family.

  44. Martha Patterson says...

    While I am not a workaholic, I miss the structure of work. As a teacher, from mid March on, I was pretty much in front to of my laptop from 7 to at least 4 everyday, if not planning lessons, Zooming, Google Meet ups, professional development..Now that school is “out” for the summer, I’m struggling with the lack of structure. There are many tasks to be done around my house…I just don’t know where to start! I’m feeling the most frustration of the pandemic now…my elderly parents are 800 miles a way, and I need to visit them for a variety of reasons…but am torn about flying or driving, as both pose risks…I am generally not an anxious person, but this situation is creating anxiety for me…Anyone else? Any thoughts?

    • Midge says...

      We just drove 1200 miles to see my folks and I’m so glad we did. Strict quarantine for two weeks prior, then we took our own food and drove straight through (18 hours), only stopping for gas/bathroom. It worked out great, and it felt amazing to see them and be together. It did feel scary before we left but once we were on the road, it was totally fine…. almost normal.

    • Mimi says...

      Martha, my nieces have been flying Southwest and from their experience on the West coast only– Southwest is only allowing 30 passengers on the plane and everyone gets a row to themselves with the row in front & behind them being empty. Most of the airlines I travel with have sent emails to me about what new procedures they have in place. Also I recently had to travel 2 states away in the Midwest and some hotels were very good about being at half capacity and not having amenities open. However, one very small town (less than 5k people) were in a bubble and proceeded to not do a thing– I kept my mask on & used my hand sanitizer everywhere.

    • Michelle says...

      I’ve a lot of the same feelings you’re describing. I’ve felt my best when I’ve imposed structure on my day (e.g., get up at a planned time, exercise in the morning, cook something from a recipe I shopped for in advance, etc), but I’d estimate I only do this “structured” day 1-2 times a week, tops. Most days I just can’t pull it off. I found it helpful to accept that I’m more anxious than usual, less productive than usual. All-day projects like a complicated recipe have helped me.

  45. Jenny says...

    I was so sure I wanted to be a family planning OB/GYN, I got a speculum tattoo on my biceps! But this time has me thinking about the quality of my own life. I want space in my future practice to grow with patients over time as a family medicine doctor who does family planning (and palliative care and vaccinations and and and). It’s thrilling! I feel free, and right-pathy. Cross your fingers for me on the board exam though!!!

    • Sarah says...

      Good luck to you!

    • Katie says...

      Patients will be lucky to be in your care. Good luck!

    • Gabriella says...

      Hi Jenny, reading this made me smile. I am a medical student who recently went through a nearly identical process. While I do not have a tattoo to show for it, I was truly set on a path of reproductive health OBGYN. I identified so strongly with everything about this future and was really thrown after my rotation. The experience itself was horrible, but beyond that, I realized that I wanted a future that looked different than that of the physicians around me. I have also decided to pursue family medicine and hope to get additional training in reproductive health. Doing anything else would be selling myself short of a future that feels meant for me. The decision was recent and I am still having moments of doubt, but reading this oddly similar experience has given me an extra vote of confidence. Thank you for sharing, and if you would ever want to talk more about this path with another interested student, let’s get in touch!

      P.S. Also mid-step & complex prep. Sending all the luck your way.

    • M says...

      Woo hoo! Family medicine professor here who went through the same thought process 7 years ago. Haven’t looked back. <3

  46. I am struggling with feeling constantly in limbo. I decided back in February to leave my stressful job with an insanely long commute, and then when COVID-19 hit the plans we made ground to a halt. Now after working from home for 4 months I can say definitively that it wasn’t just the commute but also toxic management that was (is) making me miserable. As things begin to reopen we will finally be able to get finances squared away so I can quit, BUT the writing I planned to do instead will be so much more difficult with this hit to the economy. I keep second guessing my decision to leave, but I truly don’t think I can let things stay this way much longer. My birthday is in early August, and I am hoping by then I can say I’ve gifted myself some freedom.
    I feel awful contemplating leaving my job when so many are struggling to stay employed. But I am also trying to remind myself that just because other people have it hard, it doesn’t mean I have to stay miserable if I can change things for myself.

    • Diana says...

      Charla, I am going trough the same exact situation. I was planning to transfer to another department within the company I work for, but covid came, and there is a hiring freeze for the remaining of the year. I don’t think I will be able to keep working 13 hrs a day in a stressful job, no support, and not getting paid the extra time. It’s much more difficult to make the decision when friends and relatives have lost their jobs, but I think I have to do it for my mental health and close relationship.ñs. I wish you strenght and the best wishes in whatever comes next! Thank you for sharing.

  47. Laura B says...

    After 14 years together, my boyfriend proposed at the end of August last year. We started planning an epic celebration for this August to celebrate with all of our nearest and dearest.
    I quit an exceptionally toxic job in February planning to do some freelance writing to support myself while I looked for the right job.
    And then 2020 saw my well-laid plans and LAUGHED! It told me, “not this year girlfriend!”
    But in the midst of the anxiety, grief, uncertainty, and everything else – I found myself. That self that had been lost to working too much for toxic places, ignoring self-care, ignoring my needs. I have been reading leisurely books, working out, calling family members I haven’t spoken to since Christmas. And while there are still days I feel utter defeat and anxiety, I am more equipped to be kind to myself, acknowledge my feelings, and find a way to move past them because I have been afforded the gift of time to reconnect with my soul.

  48. C says...

    At the end of the year I left the job I had been at for over a decade and moved with my little family across the country to a new city. My plan was to have another baby and take a year or two off before returning to work full time.

    The pandemic shook up our plans and filled us with uncertainty about the future. We put our plans for a second child on hold. I am now looking for a job in a difficult market and cursing myself for quitting my former one. We are questioning if the move to our new city was a bad choice. It has been difficult to feel settled when we can’t go anywhere or meet anyone.

    Despite the stress and uncertainty I am grateful for the extra time the situation has afforded me with my family. I feel lucky not to be juggling working from home with entertaining a toddler (to all of you doing this —you are amazing!!!).

  49. witloof says...

    When it’s safe to come back out, very little of my life is going to resemble the one I left behind when I began quarantine alone in my NYC apartment on March 14. My two chief joys, aside from my work {my pediatric therapy practice is pretty much dead in the water at the moment since it’s all hands on and the clinic where I have been treating for the past 18 years closed its doors} are social dancing and European travel. I’m resigned to not dancing anymore or seeing my friends in France and England again in this lifetime. I would just like a hug or a child on my lap or a meal with friends.

    • A says...

      I feel you, Witloof. I’ve been swing dancing for almost 25 years. It’s one of those things that makes my soul sing, along with travel to foreign locales. I, too, am trying to come to grips with a future, at least the foreseeable one, of neither. Wishing you and your practice a good recovery from all this, hugs, dancing and all.

  50. Ren says...

    I have found that not much has changed for me in the sense that I wasn’t sure what I should be doing with my life before and I still don’t know now. I lost my job in a creative field three years ago and have not been able to find another. I worked hard for years to get that position. Since then I have drifted into working in a more junior role in a different industry and while it is ok, it is not the same. I have known since I was a child what I wanted my career to look like and to find that now in my mid thirties it hasn’t come to pass, and likely never will, is hard. I feel like I should probably let those dreams go but at the same time that feels like giving up on myself. I hoped this time would force clarity upon me but I feel as confused as before. And how I wish I had travelled more Pre Covid!

    • Kristin says...

      Sending hugs to you, Ren. Keep going.

  51. Christine says...

    Our plans have not changed! We had planned to move from the US to London at the beginning of August, and even though the timing couldn’t be worse we are going through with it. Things will be harder and it looks unlikely that we will be able to visit for Thanksgiving as planned, but we’re staying the course!

  52. Mandy says...

    My neighbors had a dome-spaceship house right across the street from where I grew up in Central PA. It always reminded me of those vintage kids toys that was a ball that you fit different shapes through the holes.

  53. Allie says...

    FWIW, my mom is a grandma and recently achieved her goal of doing a headstand while surfing:)

    Very proud of her.

    • Amanda says...

      A year ago, we decided to move to New Zealand. We told family and friends at the end of 2019, and we were supposed to have months of building memories, taking trips, revisiting our favorite places, finally going the places we’d not gotten around to seeing. Instead of an epic farewell to our 15 years in Seattle, we’ve been quarantined for months and have moved up our relo date to next week. It has been a big struggle to juggle 3 kids, my husband switching jobs in the middle of this, and an international move with virtually no help. As the move approaches, I find myself with survivor’s guilt as I see my US friends reaching desperation with virus transmission going strong and so much uncertainty about health and safety of schools and childcare.

    • Kirstin says...

      so am I – I think I might make that my goal too

    • Erika says...

      This is the definition of “goals.”

  54. Kate says...

    I’ve been very fortunate to have met a wonderful man in November, the sweetest soul I know. We moved in together earlier than planned and our home is very happy. We live in a small, beautiful city in Canada and I have a secure government job and he is a dental surgeon so we’re doing just fine (though not fortunate enough to be working safely from home). However, I’ve always had this deep fear that good things get taken away by circumstances beyond my control, and now with the global pandemic I secretly fear one of us will get sick and lose the new love we’ve found. I haven’t told anyone because it seems very Chicken Little…but sometimes it does feel like the sky is falling all around us.

    • I can identify so hard with this. When things are going well I get scared that it will all come crashing down, you know? Just try to enjoy your new love as best you can.

  55. Sarah says...

    We just did a major overhaul 16 months ago and moved to a French speaking nation. We bought an old duplex and became landlords in a culture we don’t totally understand yet. Our daughter is learning French at daycare and I’m trying to keep up on Duolingo. I hope our soul searching is done for a long while. . . LOL.

  56. mary s says...

    I don’t know if my plans have changed. I am glad I had no major trips planned, though it wouldn’t have been a tragedy to cancel them. I’m grateful that I made a long-awaited trip to India last year instead of putting it off.

    I’m alone — have been for years — and sometimes I feel lonely. But then again, I sometimes felt lonely in pre-COVID times. I’m lucky that I am employed and able to work at home — and that I work for a policy think tank that is somewhat engaged with issues that matter to me — poverty, inequality, voter participation, etc. I am walking a lot more — getting (re)acquainted with my neighborhood, sometimes getting to chat with neighbors, feeling happy to be outside (with my mask). I try to be a good neighbor. I am trying to keep my garden in some kind of shape. Getting in touch with old friends has been nice — though a few of them have gotten COVID (and the husband of one old friend died from it).

    I’m anxious about our future — I try to deal with that by writing postcards to voters on the regular, and donating to causes and campaigns. I’m trying to keep tabs on my parents, who are 90 and living semi-independently in western NC — I live in SF, a few thousand miles away, and I would like to visit but it probably wouldn’t be a good idea right now. But the wonders of the internet made it possible for me to get them signed up to vote absentee in November.

    • MJ says...

      You sound cool as heck, Mary. I’m alone in SF too, however, happy to be employed and keeping busy with that and online grad school.

  57. Angela says...

    I’m starting a PhD program in the fall, so I had planned to quit my job at the beginning of June and finally use some of my savings to solo-trip around France this summer — a last hurrah before I become a stressed-out full-time student again. With the pandemic, of course, my plans to travel have gone out the window, so I’m instead spending my summer at my home in the woods of Minnesota with my mom, who I am very close with but haven’t been able to see much since I moved away six years ago. After the stress of “working” from home with lots of roommates during the pandemic, I’m really looking forward to a few months to recharge and reconnect with one of the most important people in my life.

  58. SusieG says...

    This post and the comments truly resonates. We have been lucky enough to work from home throughout the quarantine, here on Capitol Hill in D.C. It’s a lovely old house and we’ve been happy here. A friend randomly sent us an email about a house for sale in their quieter neighborhood in Maryland. Took my teen-aged daughter to see it; we both fell in love. Husband and dog went the next day. We’re now in a crazy scramble to sell our house after our bid was accepted. All because my daughter is willing to take a gamble and move away from everything she’s known … and we can see ourselves growing old there.

    Do the big, scary things.

    • Liz says...

      From elsewhere on Capitol Hill, congratulations on your move and I hope your new home is all that you want. People are looking at their space and priorities in new ways now.

    • Annabelle says...

      We did the big, scary thing too — which for us was to get a dog :)

  59. Lisa says...

    The lockdown actually helped us (mostly my husband who is ridiculously indecisive) decide on some things. The first is whether or not to have a third child. I’ve been wanting to, my husband was undecided but has now made up his mind that he wants to. Which is kind of odd having been locked down for months with a 4 and a 2 year old. Secondly, we have been going back and forth for literally years on whether we want to stay in London or move to Israel, and again the lockdown has helped decide. My husband can move easily with his job. For me, since I’ve been working remotely any way for the last 4 months it strengthens the argument that I could do it in another country (with a similar one zone).

    As for me personally, I worked from home once a week before, but now I want it as the default. The children now understand that there are times when I’m working. I love being able to see them during the day, have cuddle breaks or take them to the park. One Friday we both finished early and got ice cream and went to the park. Before that would have involved a lot of travel and logistics.

  60. Sarah says...

    Covid puts everything that matters in front of you. Forced to look at yourself, your environment, your network, your food, your job from a perspective we’ve never had before. For us, we had a baby at the end of March. My family is on the east coast and we’re on the west so he hasn’t been able to meet many that matter most. Our family unit is our every day and were thankful for this time of focus. We’re pretty sure raising a kid is going to look very different over the years. The societal turmoil and environmental concerns have us dreaming of smaller towns where the water is clean, the driving is less, and people are together in raising children.

  61. Lynn says...

    It has changed my thinking that living in my smallish (63,000) town is not so bad after all. I live in a community that is 22% African American, and EVERY child in our school district gets a free breakfast and lunch. Our town is very inclusive, and we don’t have riots or protests.

    • Librarian says...

      Protests are democracy in action and how we hold those in power accountable, they aren’t a bad thing.

  62. Amy says...

    During this long work-from-home I’ve realized how deeply, supremely unhappy and unfulfilled I am in my PR career. I’ve been thinking of going back to school full-time for an MBA… in Europe… at the age of 38!! Am I crazy?? It finally hit me that life is too short to be this unfulfilled in a career that I should never have been in in the first place. I might be the oldest MBA candidate by 10 years if I go, but the prospect of going back to school and learning and restarting my career is so energizing and exciting to me!

    • Mallory says...

      My mom went back to school for her BA and teaching degree in her 30s and then got her masters in technical theater in her late 40s. That’s always been such an inspiration to me and it’s put less pressure on my own career decisions, knowing I’m not locked in!

    • Jacqueline says...

      I am reading this book called “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger (which PS is awesome). At one point in the book she is talking about going back to school to get her PhD in psychology. She tells her boss. She says, “I don’t know, but the time I finish school I’ll be fifty.” And he says this: You’re going to be fifty anyhow. It’s such a “duh” thing. But I’ve been walking around thinking this over and over. We’re going to be fifty anyhow!

      Also! Europe!!!!!

    • Em says...

      You are not crazy! I am 32 in nine days and am a lawyer considering the exact same thing. My friends are doing their MBAs in Barcelona right now, are in their late/mid thirties and do not feel old and are absolutely loving it. They inspired me, let them inspire you. DO IT! Age means nothing. Professional satisfaction and intellectual curiosity mean everything. You will never regret being better educated. You got this!

    • Quyen says...

      DO IT!!! :)

    • C says...

      I’ve been having similar thoughts. I am in my mid-thirties and have had a fairly successful career thus far. Despite this, I am questioning if it’s what I want to continue doing. I keep considering going back to school for nursing, but it feels insane.

    • Annie says...

      My mom got her MBA at 46! And I recently (or in January) took took an Uber with a woman in Santa Fe who was in the midst of getting her Master’s to be a therapist. It’s never too late.

    • Amy says...

      Oh my gosh — @Mallory, @Jacqueline, @EM, @Quyen, @C, @Annie — THANK YOU so so much for the encouragement, this made my day! I now have a 5-lb test prep book coming my way :-) COJ readers are the best!

    • Agnes says...

      Between the ages of 30-38, I did 2 degrees and became a therapist. 10 years later I still love my career. I spent my 20’s adventuring. It’s never too late!

    • Agnes says...

      And C, my sister became a nurse in her 40’s…it’s definitely doable :)

    • Amy says...

      Thank you @Agnes!!

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Please go back to school if that’s what you desire. There is no shame in wanting to be better educated. In my MA year, I had classmates with different life experiences. One was a New York Times bestselling author, another had a PhD in a completely different field, some were well into their 40s and 50s, and yet they chose to come back to school and learn something new. Do it.

    • B says...

      @Amy Do it!

      I moved to Dublin at 31 to do a full-time MBA and it was the best experience of my life. Now I’m debating moving to London to do another masters at 34 and finally pursue working in music, my dream! Still makes me nervous that everyone will be younger :) but something about it feeling scary, also kinda makes it feel right!

    • Liz says...

      42 year old lawyer here who a few months ago deferred my admission for an M.Ed and 5th – 12th grade social studies teaching license to next year. It’s never too late!

  63. Taylor says...

    I’m due with my first baby on July 23 and literally everything has changed. No baby shower–which is a bummer but not a huge heartbreak because I know we’ll celebrate her after she’s here and when its safe, but the hardest thing has not been able to see my mom. The last time I saw her was December, I wasn’t showing at all. We live on opposite coasts and I was supposed to see her in May for the baby shower and she was supposed to come out in March and it literally kills me that she’s never going to see me in person with my bump, feel her first grandbaby kick, etc.

    The other thing is just birth in general–I expected both my parents to be there, I got a doula–now it’s just going to be my husband, who is comforting and calm and funny and it’s why I married him, but he’s just as scared and uncertain as I am. My doula gave us a discount and we’re going to be able to chat with her remotely but it’s not the same–I have a poor history with doctors (I had vulvodynia and had a surgery called a vestibulectomy in May 2017, this was after about three years of misdiagnoses, being told its in my head, that I needed to relax, etc. My recovery was extremely taxing and pretty much led me to have the unhealthy belief that most medical professionals are just winging it), so I was really counting on having the doula with me as an advocate, to use vocabulary I don’t know to give me a voice when I may be scared or uncertain.

    I’m trying to focus on the good from all of this–the extra, extra time my husband and I have just the two of us, that my job has remained secure, that I haven’t gotten sick and that my baby is healthy–sending good thoughts to any moms soon to be delivering–my baby is a Nats world series baby and the L&D wards are so busy right now that I am on a waiting list for three different induction dates! So I know lots of other parents are in my shoes and I’m hoping we all get through it with easy, safe deliveries!

    • Vero says...

      So powerful of you to simultaneously hold the gratitude as well as the fear + grief of things not being as you had hoped. Sending you best wishes for a healthy delivery! I have a feeling your husband will step up to the plate in the most beautiful way to support and advocate for you, with the help of the doula from afar xo

    • MB says...

      I had a difficult experience with care after the birth of my first child (when I had torn really badly and I was bounced around on the UK’s wonderful but sometimes tricky to navigate NHS). I did hypnobirthing before the birth of my second child which I found really helped to alleviate the anxiety created by my first time postnatal experience. As for laboring, I found hypnobirthing to be an invaluable tool. Good luck!

  64. Colleen S says...

    My sister and her boyfriend are moving up their plans to move to South Carolina sooner. They were going to do it in a few years, now it could be sometime next year. They’re going there in September and look at houses. I am actively contemplating moving somewhere that no one smokes, because our upstairs neighbors have been smoking in their apartment (which they’re allowed to do, something that wasn’t mentioned when we looked at our apartment last year), and I want to be somewhere that I’m not subjected to that smell. Ideally, I’d also like to live in the middle of nowhere so I am not having to hear fireworks every Fourth of July and whenever else someone thinks it’s appropriate to blow stuff up.

  65. Haylee says...

    I love this post and these comments. It’s so heartening to hear about the experiences of others, especially since what is being shared feels so honest and vulnerable and relatable. Sending love to all of you <3

  66. Fanny says...

    During quarantine I published two books and couldn’t get too excited about it because my partner left me. And on top, my 4-year-old started the “why?”-phase!

    • Adel says...

      Sounds like some high highs and some low lows- not easy I’m sure! Sending love!

    • Stephanie says...

      Get excited – that’s an amazing achievement! I’ve barely managed to brush my teeth regularly so to have published two books, coped with a break up and a persistently questioning 4-year-old are all things, each in and of themselves, to be seriously proud of. Well done.

  67. S. says...

    I see other comments on here saying that they previously believed themselves to be introverts and are feeling the need for connection. I feel the opposite – I always thought I was an extrovert and have had almost no problem with the limited social interaction. It might be because my husband (got married last month in our yard after canceling our fancy wedding!) and I are normally both so busy that this time together has been for lack of a better word, a blessing. We’ve been together 7 years and it’s been all go-go-go and for the most part, being together has reaffirmed that we work well together and can take on anything.

    I’ve also been re-examining our choices about where to move next year. I don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere, but my previous need to be in a major metro area has disappeared. I want to prioritize places we have access to nature and being outside.

    It hasn’t all been good of course. I mourn for our country, and those who have lost their lives (virus and racism), and I’m unable to look away from the news that has been so bleak. My husband’s job market isn’t looking the way we hoped it would when he finishes training. The planner in me is hard to let go of, and it’s not that I miss this event or that specifically, but I miss knowing that good things were coming up. I look forward to life in general, but I don’t know what exactly to look forward to.

    • Vero says...

      “I look forward to life in general, but I don’t know what exactly to look forward to”

      You captured my feelings right there. I’m in the same boat. What a strange time.

  68. Abby says...

    My fiance and I planned on getting married this January and then we would think about saving up for and buying a house after that. After being in our Baltimore apartment since March, we are now moving into our first home in PA in a couple of weeks and moved our wedding to next summer. Lots of changes in so little time. We think his job will be remote forever, but if he does need to commute it will be doable. As a teacher, I have no idea what to expect in the fall, but at the very least I’ll have a beautiful commute and my own office at home (and garden and porch!). Very grateful for the ability to buy a home and have a job right now.

  69. Mallory says...

    The outdoors. I’ve never enjoyed them or appreciated my access to them more. Trimming a rose bush, kayaking on a river, and being terrified of a snake on a hike now feel like huge privileges.

    I used to care about fashion and couldn’t wait to find a second-hand designer skirt. I don’t give a damn about it anymore. My online shopping list has shortened. My fingers are now itching to search for crampons and an ice ax as a bridge to the privilege of leaving the house this coming winter.

    “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. ” Such beautiful writing, Caroline.

    It’s also shown me that people I thought I knew quite well are not exactly who I thought they were, and maybe that’s good. I hope this allows us to see people more solidly as who they are. I hope I provide people room to grow, even if it’s further away from me.

    • Kam says...

      Mallory – I resonate with your reply. I have seen more of the outdoors in my own YARD and neighborhood walking than I have since I moved here two years ago and I love it. I also have no interest in fashion. I mean no one has seen me from the waist down in months (zoom calls).

      I love this thought the most: “I hope I provide people room to grow, even if it’s further away from me.” YES

  70. Elizabeth says...

    This year has been incredibly intense, and each subsequent month seems to want to one-up the month before.

    In January, my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. My husband had been laid off from his job two months earlier and we were beginning to stress about when he would find work.

    In February, my family came to terms with my dad’s declining health and I continued to train for the Boston Marathon.

    In March, my dad’s cancer began to present / elicit symptoms of dementia/alzheimers – he was hallucinating and unsure of where he was. Covid Quarantine began and The Boston Marathon was postponed. Amazingly, my husband got a great job one week before the shutdown began and has been working remotely ever since.

    In April, We learned that my uncle had been diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. We also realized that quarantine was forcing us to miss my dad’s last truly coherent moments. Our daughter’s daycare closed indefinitely and made us begin to question staying in the city, which we have always loved.

    In May, my siblings and I decided to strictly quarantine at home so we could safely visit our parents. My 75 year old mother had been caring for our father all on her own, and was nearing a breakdown. The Boston Marathon was officially cancelled. My husband was promoted at work!

    In June, We were walloped by the death of George Floyd and all of the intense conversations / racial reckoning that is happening in our country. We attended socially distant marches with our two year old daughter in masks. My husband and I decided on a whim to house hunt after 14+ years of city living, and managed to get the very first house we saw and fell in love with, despite a bidding war. I was able to tell my dad about the house when our offer was accepted, and that we would be closer to him. He passed away three days later.

    So far in July – We just discovered we are pregnant with our second child, and preparing to close on our first home at the end of the month.

    This year has thrown my entire life into upheaval, but it has also put what I care about into stark focus. I have never been closer with my family, and we are having frank and open conversations about what is going on in the world.

    My husband and I weren’t sure if we wanted to have a second child, but after everything else that has happened this year, it feels like an incredible blessing.

    • Connie says...

      Elizabeth, I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the emotions of not being able to be near to him in his last months as you might otherwise have. Best wishes on your house and the baby.

    • Angela says...

      Goodness gracious me.
      Boy oh boy.
      Lordy-Lord.
      Unbelievable
      Proud of you.

    • Kari says...

      I am so sorry for your loss, Elizabeth, and the incredible upheaval you’ve gone through. So much loss and celebration in such a short time, such highs and lows in the midst of so much global craziness. Sending you the warmest thoughts and wishes of peace and stability.

    • Kelly says...

      Elizabeth, your story brought me to tears. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that you and your family can find some peace and solace in one another.
      I also just found out I was pregnant, after some very ambivalent feelings of both wanting another child and feeling uneasy about bringing another child into this world — and I, too, have found it to be such a blessing. I wish you all the best.

  71. Leah says...

    Our family of 4 is moving in three weeks from Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn to Southern California. Even though its further from our east coast family, I can’t give up the idea of great weather year round, especially given that the current situation is likely to continue for another 6 months – a year. We have two extremely active boys and the lifestyle of an apartment without outdoor space was unbearable after Covid (and honestly, before as well). Since we had to move anyway given that situation, we decided to make lemonade out of lemons and now we’re very excited. LIFE IS SHORT!

    • Pamela says...

      Welcome to So Cal!!!

  72. HB says...

    I’ve always felt so darn independent, comfortable being by myself, eating dinner out in restaurants alone, taking myself out, doing things on my own. Pandemic has made me stop and listen to that voice calling deep inside of me — I don’t have to carry the world alone. I can let people in. I can be open to love. I can be vulnerable. I can share my world AND not lose my independence.

    A work in progress. But it is something.

    • MP says...

      whoa! Hi HP, are you me? I started therapy for the first time in my life mere weeks before quarantine, and I’ve been continuing sessions with my therapist weekly via a hipaa compliant zoom alternative. All this to say, the amount of growth around the existence of both my fierce independence and want/need for community and people has been enormous and fills every single session.

    • Sarah says...

      This is great insight – sounds like we’re very similar so helpful to read!

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Are you inside my head or what? You took the words right out of me.

  73. isabelle says...

    Well, I’m working more hours and making less money than ever before, but on the bright side I’ve gotten really good at finding new ways to eat beans.

    I am so jealous of people with disposable income. I want to buy fun baking pans, comfy pajamas, take-out meals, fresh flowers, puzzles, craft supplies, etc…it was tough to make ends meet before COVID but I always told myself that someday it would be better. I never expected it to get worse. I live across the country from my entire family so I’m really on my own.

    Even though I sound like a grump I still have a lot to be thankful for and I’m really really really lucky to still have health insurance and a job, even if they are paying me less than before. Trying to appreciate whatever I can right now.

    • Kennedy says...

      Isabelle this comment really resonated with me. While I’m glad some people can use this period as an opportunity for growth and reflection, there are many of us who are just keeping our head above water and don’t have the choices that money and stable remote workIng brings. I would love to consider a move to somewhere quieter and slower but work opportunities in those places are scarce, along with a long lease and no savings to dip into, choices are limited.
      I too wish I had the type of disposable income that you speak of. Life would be so much easier, but like you I’m trying to pick out the small things to be grateful for. Sometimes though, you just need to vent :) I’m right there with you

    • E says...

      Oh, I’m sorry, Isabelle. Thanks for sharing, it isn’t as much fun to share that sort of thing as it is to share about fun baking projects, puzzles, etc.

    • Madeleine says...

      Isabelle – your comment is what I relate to! Even if our circumstances are slightly different. I’ve just finished law school (with a ton of debt) and now my bar admission course has been shortened by two weeks and moved online. I am halfway through. I’m also across the country from my entire family, and it makes every important day so much harder.

      I too have no disposable income. I’ve moved into more affordable accomodation with a friend in a basement suite. I’ve gotten into beans and eating swiss chard out of my container garden. I’m eating all the grains and legumes that I bought in February, and grateful to have that bit of ease.

      You don’t sound like a grump – not to me. It’s a breath of fresh air. I’d like to see CoJ sharing more stories like yours.

  74. Jenna says...

    Definitely the question of where to live has been burning in my mind. My family is all in CA and I am on the east coast with my kids and husband. Regular visits are the only antidote from constant homesickness. Now I feel a strong feeling of needing to be within a day’s driving distance from my parents so that it doesn’t feel extreme to be apart. I’ve never had a 5 year plan but this a possible goal now.

    • Rosa says...

      I can’t imagine to be in that situation since in my tiny country even if I lived in the most southern city and my parents in the most northern it would only be a 4.5 hour drive. However, I can definitely imagine wanting to be closer to them if it wasn’t like that here. Family is so important and I think it’s a great (possible) goal for you to move closer to your family.

    • Laura says...

      Sending love to you, Jenna. I am in the exact same situation.

  75. Bren says...

    I’m so excited to read through all these comments! My biggest shift has been considering homeschooling! My oldest is entering kindergarten this fall and I’m still holding my breath waiting for our city to announce what the plan is. I refuse to have my rowdy 6 year old zoom his way through kindergarten on the computer, and so now I am feverishly googling ALL things homeschool. My husband is looking at me like I have 6 heads and I’ve lost my mind (although he supports me whatever I decide!). Have I mentioned I have a 4 year old and 11 month old twins who are into EVERYTHING. Not sure how this will even be possible. But if there’s anything this pandemic has taught me…maybe we are capable of more than we ever thought possible! And maybe for me that means being a homeschool mom while my twins crawl around me in circles!

    (P.S. Cup of Jo – can you do an article highlighting different moms/dads/caregivers and their choices to homeschool?! I would love to hear different perspectives and the reasons they chose to homeschool, since I know I’m not the only one considering this!!)

    • Katey says...

      Same! I have an almost five and almost two year old. My oldest should start kindergarten this fall. I’m going to homeschool until I see how school will actually work.

      Good luck, be kind to yourself, and enjoy your kids.

    • Sonja says...

      ooh great comment and post suggestion, Bren! Best of luck with everything, and don’t be afraid to try something new that you feel will be the best for your family! You’ve got this!!

    • Mimi says...

      Hi Bren! A colleague of mine has just started a homeschooling consulting/advisory business. Let me know if you’d like her info!

    • M says...

      Ditto you your callout for an article on deciding to homeschool. More people than ever before are thinking about it. As a home educator of 2 years I find this fascinating.

    • V. says...

      As a former homeschooled kid, I have mixed emotions about the Covid-sparked surge of interest in homeschooling. On one hand, I understand that homeschooling, if one has the resources for it, is arguably both a safer option than in-person school and a more appealing option than virtual school during this unique time. In that sense, homeschooling is a huge privilege.

      It can also provide a great education and a unique skillset. One of the best things I took away from homeschooling was the ability to teach myself new material, something that helped me graduate at the top of my high school, college and graduate school classes once I went “out” to school post-8th grade and that has since been invaluable in my career. I am grateful to my parents for setting me up for success academically and professionally via a solid education.

      That said, if I ever have children I will be extremely reluctant to homeschool them. I feel like my siblings and I (all homeschooled) missed out on so much developmentally and really struggled to differentiate ourselves from our parents and form our own identities. We were not exposed to many adults with different perspectives from our parents, and even though we participated in extracurricular activities, it was hard to fit in with kids who already had established friend groups via school. Even more challenging was simply relating to other kids whose daily lives and experiences were so different from ours. Post-homeschooling, it’s taken me a long time to define a path for myself outside of my family, and in general I very much still interact with the people around me as an outsider.

      I recognize that many parents considering homeschooling today may view it more as a temporary solution during a pandemic than a lifestyle like it was for my family, and that traditional schools may hold classes virtually anyway, making my critique of homeschooling basically irrelevant. Regardless, I wanted to weigh in because I’ve noticed a lot of recent enthusiasm for homeschooling with very little discussion of its drawbacks. I also figured that the drawbacks may not be top of mind to parents who attended traditional schools themselves and were regularly exposed to both adults and kids from different backgrounds outside of their families.

      All that is to say, I would encourage any family considering homeschooling long-term (whether sparked by the pandemic or otherwise) to consider the social and developmental implications for their children before diving in. Everything in life has pros and cons, homeschooling included. For me, homeschooling came with great opportunities but also great cost.

      Thanks for reading this! And as always, thanks to Caroline for the beautiful essay and to the COJ community for a thoughtful discussion! <3

    • Morgan says...

      Thank you for this! It’s helpful to hear from others with kids entering K.

      Same here. My 5yo twins will start K in August and we are nearly decided to keep them home. I feel like I spent months hyping going to full-day K and now we’ve totally stopped talking about it in favor of giving ourselves the space to make a decision. For our 9yo, we, too, are waiting to hear what the district says before making a decision. We are involving her more in the discussion and that can be tricky because her motivations are different than ours. Important discussions nonetheless.

      Five years ago I put my career on total hold to take care of my twins and this coming school year was supposed to be my triumvirate return to work. After updating my resume that hadn’t been touched in ten years, attending a conference, and reconnecting with former colleagues in January, I felt pretty lost and ambivalent. Now this is a curveball I couldn’t have seen coming, but I am thankful that homeschooling could be an option for us.

      To anyone else considering homeschooling, I’d recommend the Simple Homeschool blog for some inspiration and support.

    • Hazel says...

      Me too! I’ll be homeschooling a grade one level boy and kindergarten girl. Very excited and also a bit overwhelmed by all the choices. Doing it for the same reasons as you.

      Mimi, please help!

    • Aj says...

      Just a thought, but as someone working closely with the Education industry, via webinars, it is starting to sound like many teachers are just taking retirement. Being already a stressful environment imagine dealing with masks and Covid rules in the classroom. Many cannot risk their health or a family members.
      Perhaps you can speak to a teacher friend and see if someone taking retirement would be willing to teach one child over Zoom and then you can help wrangle the younger children.

  76. Connie says...

    This is a great question, and I am LOVING reading all the responses.

    I learned that perhaps I am not as much of a homebody as I thought: while I originally did kind of beautifully at home, eventually I felt like I was a Lioness stalking back and forth in a zoo…frustrated…petulant. I discovered that even introverts have their limits.

    It also gave me a really good internal “tree shake.” When I was suddenly at digital arts’ length from everyone outside of my immediate household, whom was I missing most desperately? What activities was I aching for most? Where were my yearnings strongest? It let me know where I should devote my focus and my intentionality: into those relationships, into those activities, upon those causes. When this is over, the other stuff doesn’t have to take over as much real estate in my heart as it used to. When my internal tree got shaken, the fruit that remains is worth my cultivating more than the rest of it, because as the world has shown: we just don’t know how much time we have. I want to make sure I’ve given my very best to the people/things that mean the most to me, not just “some” to all, stretched too thin.

    • Connie says...

      …also, I realized just how deeply one of my love languages is physical contact. I miss hugging others, being held in the unique way we hold/are held by people. I miss the passing squeeze of a shoulder by someone we know, the intentional bump of a shopping cart when we are recognized by a friend at the store, the way that a hand will brush past ours when passing something along, the way you share a bite of something delicious with a friend/relative when out for dinner together, the leaned head on your shoulder when sitting next to a friend at a gathering late in the evening. I miss all of this so very deeply.

  77. Laney says...

    This was supposed to be a big, exciting year for my family: my parents turning 70, my siblings each getting married, a trip to our family home in Europe with friends, both kids graduating from their respective schools, etc. Obviously, all of our plans have been upended.

    Instead, one of the rare times my family has been together was at my grandfather’s funeral during the height of COVID in the Northeast (he died of the virus), most of us standing outside of the church with masks on due to indoor gathering restrictions, unable to hug and comfort each other.

    It has just been brutal – I mourn the year we were supposed to have – but it has also been clarifying, in a way. There’s so much I will never take for granted ever again.

    • Brittany says...

      How sad and disappointing, Laney. I hope you get opportunities for redos on some things, even if some things can’t be postponed. Thinking of you.

    • Sara says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

  78. Day 1 of quarantine I found I was pregnant via my solo adventure in knocking myself up via iui sperm donation.

    Day 47: Miscarriage, D+C

    Day 60: Former Partner came back into my life and wants to build a family.

    Day 74: Wine + pizza and lots of feelings

    Day 104: Holding hands and solar eclipse

    Life has been a whirlwind. All I want to do is be in nature, eat good food, squeeze the few people I am able and love fiercely. I want to wake up to trees and birds and I cannot stop thinking of all the things that made my grandmother happy. this is it.

    • M says...

      Ahhhhh! Love this comment.

    • Kerry says...

      I love this. Thank you for sharing it.

  79. Caitlin says...

    I’m giving up my job as a high school math teacher to stay home with my kids next year, and while I am confident that it’s the right choice for our family, I am having a lot of feelings about it.

    I’ve been home this year (September baby + March move = infeasible to teach this year) and it has really confirmed that I don’t thrive as a stay-at-home mom. I miss my job, I miss my students, I’m low on patience and enthusiasm for my own kids, and I generally wonder how I can keep it up for (at least) another year. I’m also more than a little resentful of my husband who, as wonderful as he is, doesn’t (can’t?) really get how isolating and indentity-shifting this (on top of life with a two-yo and 9-mo and a move to a new city for his job) has been for me.

    • Caitlin says...

      Oof, I sound bitter!!

      The upsides: my parents also moved to our new city with us, and we we’ve kept them in our quarantine bubble. Seeing them is lovely, especially for the kids.

      Our new has has So. Much. Space! We are much more comfortable here than we would have been in our old house, and my husband has the privacy he needs to work effectively.

      Our new neighborhood is walkable, shady, and had fantastic access to parks. All the reasons we chose it are giving us life right now.

      Also, I recognize how privileged I am to be financially able to stay at home next year. There are SO many teachers who will be put in impossible situations with only bad choices next year, and I’m really thankful to have an option that keeps the risk for our family really low.

    • Paige says...

      You don’t sound bitter, you just sound like a mom during quarantine :) It’s okay to feel how you are feeling. You’re certainly not alone in it.

    • Caitlin, I didn’t think you sounded bitter at all. But maybe that’s because I’m bitter too?! I think it’s just hard to both own that we are so fortunate and privileged and also to truly believe that we are allowed our struggle. Brene Brown has an episode of Unlocked about this; I’ll link to it.

      I have struggled similarly being home with an almost-4 year old and a 15 month old for 117 days. I’ve gone through phases – a couple weeks of feeling depressed, almost two months of being in a pretty good groove, then more weeks of feeling down, burned out, over my kids. It’s a terrible feeling to be a mom -with all that privilege and all that gratitude I want to be feeling – and to be not enjoying my kids.

      I’ve also seen your struggle with your husband in my own partner – I think he can’t relate partly because, in order to chug along, he really can’t let himself go there. He can’t empathize with my distress because he has to keep going to work everyday, come home, deal with my irritability, shower the kids with love, rinse and repeat. It’s just all to much.

      I’m excited to take the lessons of the time forward with me. However simply I thought I was living before, I want to and can live simpler. But this is still a rotten time, for most everyone, and for me, too.

    • Haylee says...

      A couple of weeks ago I was on the phone with my sister and did a similar cycle: “this is hard,” “actually why am I complaining there’s a lot of worse situations out there and I’ve been so blessed,” “ahhhh,” and then ended my spiel feeling discouraged and disappointed in myself. But my sister shared some advice that I LOVED. Over the last year she’s started listening to podcasts hosted by therapists as a first step towards feeling comfortable going to see one. One of the episodes talked about acknowledging feelings, accepting them, and then moving on. So instead of feeling first frustrated, then guilty and embarrassed for feeling frustrated, then annoyed at the whole situation and spiraling into “this is insanity, how are any of us supposed to cope right now anyway” or whatever train of emotions follows, I’d just feel frustrated and accept it and that’s where it would end. I think we are all feeling so many things right now and I love the idea of not adding to that emotional burden by piling on other reactionary emotions. Anyway, just something that has really helped me lately! Sending love and support from afar for all of the feelings. We are all experiencing some degree of hardship and some degree of abundance, and I think there’s room for acknowledging both independently of the other.

  80. Jen Z. says...

    I’ve learned that I am strong.

    I have lost my job that I adored, lost my social circle, and now I have lost my church family due to being the only person in the congregation that will wear a mask and my pleas for masks and hand washing stations falling on deaf ears. I attend service via Zoom and feel like an outcast.

    I have learned that I am strong, because I have not given up, but some days I wonder what the point is. Even if a miracle cure for the virus came out tomorrow, seeing how friends and family have handled this pandemic is heartbreaking. How does one recover from that?

    • isabelle says...

      Thank you for standing up for what is right, even when it’s hard. I have never been more disheartened by religious communities, many of whom are acting more selfishly and irrationally than I even thought possible.

    • Jo says...

      Jen Z., I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds like a lonely place to be.

      Let it be known that at least one internet stranger is impressed with you and your fortitute.

      I don’t have any concrete advice (wish I did!), but I’m sending warm thoughts your way.

    • Leah says...

      I’m so sorry. You sound like a super strong person. I wish you will quickly find a new circle of friends who appreciate you and your values. Stay safe, it will happen!

    • Elisabeth says...

      I hear you, Jen. It’s so hard to see folks you love act in selfish and entitled ways — as much as you don’t want to lose respect for them, you do, and it changes things. I don’t know you, but you sound like an incredible person who does the right thing even when it’s hard, and I admire you. If you were in southern CA, we’d be friends, I bet.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve had so much loss, including your church community not acting in a way that is caring and loving toward the most vulnerable. I don’t know how I’d be able to recover from that realization, along with friends and family too. I hope you are able to connect with people who share your commitment to acting in ways that protect others, especially those who might be more vulnerable… I applaud your commitment to protecting the health of your community.

    • sally says...

      Thank you for being the person who does the right thing. Stay strong.

  81. Lydia says...

    Im fortunate to live in a beautiful place but i defonitely find myself longing for certain dreams and realizing they dont necessarily have to be too far away
    Things that ive thought were ten years away feel more like 2 years away now, because why not? Why wait? And i realize if i save really hard i could afford that small apartment in the italian country side. Or why should i wait for my career to blossom ins an francisco when it’ll be stronger in new york.

  82. Emilie says...

    I am loving reading all of these comments. I recently saw a post that said “a waiting season is never a wasted season”, and I am trying to remind myself of that daily.

    I am an enthusiastic planner (enneagram type 7, anyone?!) and for the last year my partner and I have been planning a move from Western Canada to London in early 2021. We didn’t have jobs secured, but in our industry (law) and with our experience, and according to all of my advanced research and conversations, we did not expect the job market to be a problem. We are also both dual Canada/UK citizens, so weren’t concerned about Visa hurdles. We were both looking forward to the excitement, cultural succulence, and adventure of London life, as well as the comfort of being closer to family in the UK. I spent (too many) hours scouring the flat-for-let sites and mentally designing our new home. I was so wrapped up in all of it that the day-to-day of my current life was way out of my focus zone.

    Once COVID hit, all of this changed. I was worried about getting laid off (luckily I haven’t been, thank the good lord), and friends working in finance soon told us that London would likely be hit hard by the virus first, followed by the worst economic recession in modern times. A zoom call with our recruiter in London confirmed the worst. Hang on to and be grateful for any job you currently have; the legal job market in London will be reeling for the foreseeable future.

    London 2021 is now (almost certainly) off the table for us. This is in no way a tragedy compared to what so many people have suffered due to COVID itself, and the economic repercussions of the shut down. We are incredibly lucky to be healthy and employed, and I am so grateful.

    Personally, however, I can’t recall a bigger hit to my daily purpose and peace of mind. Before London 2021, I was planning friends’ weddings, my move in with my partner, my next career move, etc., etc. COVID has forced me to confront the extent to which I live in the future and not the present, how much gratification I get from planning and building excitement for adventure, and how when the world slows down I have a very hard time slowing down with it.

    But, a waiting season is never a wasted season. London will be London once there is a vaccine and the world can safely proceed with international travel. The job markets will rebound or adjust. We will all hold our friends and family members we have missed and promise ourselves to never take their physical presence for granted again. I am trying hard to enjoy the small, every day banalities that I used to (at best) ignore, and (at worst) begrudge. I don’t know what next week will look like, let alone next month or next year. I will have to wait and see, and in the meantime, just love my partner and appreciate a sunny day, a good night’s sleep, a chat with my mum, and all the other little things more than before.

    xxx

    • Sonja says...

      this is so beautiful. xo

    • Sarah says...

      “London will be London” is the refrain I’m going to carry with me from this. Thank you, thank you for the way you carry being both realistic and optimistic.

  83. ks says...

    this is being written from the front porch of my parents home in colorado where we escaped to for the past month, with a month more of front porch sitting and hiking and biking on the horizon. writing with privilege i realize, as we can travel – but this article echoes our thoughts at the moment. we moved to dc from tx for my bf’s job on april 1st, with mine moving to remote because of this, and have found ourselves reassessing what home “feels” like now with both of us working from home. is it access to bars and restaurants and museums or is it access to outdoors and space for gatherings? small town life continues to grow in appeal as life has slowed down…

  84. Kat says...

    For me, our plans were already in motion to change, so now we’re changing amidst change. In October 2019, my husband and I decided to move from Tampa, Florida to Detroit, Michigan (well, Grosse Pointe). On March 6, 2020, we made an offer on a house. We sold our house and had to be out by March 19, 2020. The pandemic was just becoming real then. We spent the first four weeks of quarantine with my parents. On April 17-18, 2020, we and our two dogs and three cats drove to Michigan. We made as few stops as possible, and were some of the few wearing masks (this was well before the Mask Protests of recent weeks). We’re now just over two months in living in a new city, and it’s such a bizarre experience. Getting used to a new city and a new house and a new job and new grocery stores all while dealing with a pandemic has been incredibly difficult. We haven’t been able to explore, we haven’t been to a single restaurant (and have done little take-out). I honestly can’t say whether I like it here – I don’t know what “it” is! How can I? But I know that we’re lucky. We’re lucky to have sold our house before the market tanked and the recession took hold. We’re lucky to have found a house that is comfortable. We’re lucky to have had some time when we first moved to remove carpet and paint floors. I wonder if we would be having a better pandemic if we’d stayed put, but probably not. The pandemic makes you feel stuck, and we already felt stuck. I guess at least now we’re stuck in a new place rather than the old one.

    • Eve says...

      We are in a slightly similar position – we moved from one end of the uk to the other just before lockdown started due to my husband’s job (military). Obviously we haven’t been able to explore or do anything, I’ve not made any friends, found a job, joined a gym or really settled in in any way even though we have been here four months now! People ask me if I like it here and I’m like “I don’t know!”. And it’s a shame because we will likely only be posted here for two years before we move again, so we are missing out on a lot of time to explore and I think I may never have time to settle in properly if this goes on much longer. But it’s obviously not the end of the world in comparison to what some people are going through so I can’t complain too much!

  85. Lisa says...

    Great post.

    I have learned that I am as tough as I always knew I was, that I am more radical than most of my friends and that I need to be comfortable expressing my views within social circles *and* at work, that I really do love my husband, and that my community is awesome but certainly needs some work. I have learned how to calmly and effectively challenge the views of others when they are just not okay. have learned that I do truly love my job and that it offers me more avenues than I may previously have realized. I have learned, yet again, that it is okay and necessary to ask for help when I need it. I have (re)learned that I get my stubbornness from my father and that it is a bitch – but also useful.

    I have also learned that I really would love to have my own pool, but that’s off in dreamland. A little house in the woods – that I may push for.

    • Vero says...

      Wow I really love your comment Lisa. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vicky says...

      You go girl!

  86. Emily says...

    My husband and I were finally in a spot to both have W-2 employment and be qualified to buy our first home out in the Seattle area. In the midst of finding our first home (with our newborn in tow), I lost my remote job of 2 years. With that our home owner dreams have gone up in smoke unless I can find a similar position or get my job back. I’ve unexpectedly become a full time mama, which is such a gift for so many reasons, but financially I know it can’t be permanent. All our family is back in Nashville and it’s had me thinking we might need to move back so I can have some childcare support. Or do we stay here and keep renting our life and income away?

  87. M says...

    The biggest change in plans is the unknowning of when I will get to see my sister and parents again, who live on other ends on our country. We had plans to see each other in July and more plans for Christmas and now we just dont know when or how it will be possible. And those regular visits vanishing from the calendar is so heavy on me.

  88. Laura says...

    I want to remind anyone moving to PLEASE make sure you register to vote in your new state ASAP! I’m worried that many people will forget or put it off and miss deadlines, and it’s more important than ever. Personally, I lived near downtown DC with three young kids. We were already looking at selling our house and moving within the city. Once we realized our offices in DC wouldn’t reopen until at least 2021, and that our kids’ public school probably wouldn’t open physically in the fall (or that we might not feel comfortable sending them even if it does) we expedited our timeline. We quickly discovered that we need more space, especially outdoors, to avoid going completely crazy. Within three weeks we rented a house near the beach, with a pool, in South Carolina, and put our DC house on the market. We are planning to return to DC when it makes sense, but for now, with everything being virtual, this makes the most sense for us. It was very strange to just pick someplace to move based entirely on outdoor space and weather. I mean, the notions of proximity to friends and family, restaurants, museums, commute times, even schools barely entered into our consideration. I have to assume, sadly, that those things will not be part of our lives for a long time–especially considering the current COVID trajectory in most of the South.

    • L says...

      Oh, holy cow–such a good point. Thank you.

    • Rusty says...

      YES.
      IF YOU MOVE … REGISTER TO VOTE AS A PRIORITY!!!
      EVERY.SINGLE.VOTE.COUNTS!
      I care and I live in Australia

  89. CEW says...

    We’re closing on a home this Thursday – my 28th birthday! Never imagined we’d be buying a house before next year, but things fell into place. So excited to start a new chapter with my family in a home that’s really, truly ours.

    • Callie Walker says...

      My BF and I also just bought a house, exactly 1 month before my 28th birthday! I’ve held some guilt about being excited during this strange, challenging time, but doesn’t it also feel so serendipitous that the pieces fell together the way they did? Congratulations on your new home & enjoy!! xx

  90. Katrina says...

    This year has been difficult to say the least. The husband started a temporary job In another state a week before the shut down. We were planing on traveling back and fourth on weekends and holidays until the end of the school year. Well, obviously school was canceled and then flights were canceled. The kids and I ended up coming to DC (where the husband works) and staying here.
    My husband for another job starting in September on the other side of the country. We bought a house without seeing it in person (yikes!!!) and next week the kids and I are returning home to pack, arrange movers etc and then at the beginning of September we’ll all drive across the country into a current COVID hotspot. They kids will be distance learning for the foreseeable future (thanks states for opening too soon) and I will be looking for a Work from home job (somehow).
    This year has been more stressful than it needs to be. But it has definitely taught me to go with the flow!

  91. My sister and I moved our beautiful apartment in LA in a neighborhood we loved to the desert- middle of nowhere 20 minutes from Palm Springs. We found a beautiful manufactured home resort with mineral pools and mostly with retired people and bought a 1300 square foot home for $49,000. We got it for way less then we should have because sweet couple selling it was in their 90s and it has been sitting for months due to the virus. Also, why not?! It’s a pandemic! There are no life rules or timelines now! We needed to get out of the city, be near our family who is in fragile health and just get some peace and natural beauty. We plan to stay here for the foreseeable future and then use this home as a family vacation house for the rest of our lives. We never thought at 31 and 29 that we would be 1. buying a house 2. buying a mobile home 3. living in a sleepy community in the middle of nowhere in the desert. BUT! We love it! It is so much bigger than anything we had in LA and it feels so good to own and be able to spend the quarantine learning how to beautify this little space we now call home. Plus! Taking a dip in the mineral pools every night has transformed our isolated lives. We are so lucky to work from home and just thought- it’s time to let go of what was and embark on a new adventure. We even bought a golf car! :)

    • Kimmie says...

      I’m going to be daydreaming of your new world for some time. 1300 square feet for $49,000 AND MINERAL POOLS EVERY NIGHT?! Heaven.

    • Jill says...

      O. M. G. What a fascinating story!

    • Mika says...

      This is incredible! I live in LA and will dream about this now for the foreseeable future, haha. Huge congrats to you!!

    • Kristin says...

      This sounds fantastic! What an exciting move and charming community. Enjoy the new adventure!

  92. AE says...

    As a native New Yorker (Brooklynite), this is so interesting to see. I wonder, if we took a survey, how many of those that leave are natives versus transplants? Those of us born and raised here have seen every iteration of New York (the New York where you couldn’t take the train safely, the New York where Giuliani started wars against poor people and people of color, the New York where I watched the twin towers burn from a window in my math class- and genuinely shrugged, thinking it some special effect for a movie being filmed). People give native New Yorkers a tough time for a) always talking about how we are from new New York and b) separating ourselves from transplants, but it’s because when the going gets tough, we stay (Even out super rich neighbors, who are natives, will return from the Hamptons eventually). No one should stay some place that is no longer working for them, but there’s something to be said about really belonging to a city and it to you.

    • Jill says...

      Love this!!

    • Kay says...

      I share your sentiment. Both my husband and I were born and raised in NYC (I’m from Queens, he’s from Brooklyn), heck, my kids were born in the same hospital I was born in. NYC is more like a living being than a place. It runs in my blood. I could never abandon it, especially in it’s time of need.

    • HB says...

      Yes, but part of why native New Yorkers stay is family and all that comes with it—at least for those I know. My native New Yorker pals have relatives they can tap for childcare or petsitting, homes that are more spacious and more affordable than much of the market because they’ve been in one family for 30, 40, 50 years. One friend lost her apartment mid-pandemic and was able to move back into her childhood bedroom. Another lives rent-free in a massive Carroll Gardens brownstone that’s been in his family for generations. Others still called on parents or siblings to help with childcare when schools and daycares closed. None of them come from wealth. I love New York, and if I had the resources of some of my friends with deep roots here I would love to stay. But it’s a lot more expensive to make a home here than it was many years ago, and for those of us without endless funds or community support networks, it can feel impossible to find a way to make things livable for the long term. It’s really frustrating to hear my love of or loyalty to this city challenged when the reality is that it’s just financially untenable to achieve the same stability and comfortable NYC life that was accessible to middle-class New Yorkers just a generation or two ago.

  93. lauren says...

    The past several months have stripped my relationship with New York City down to its essence, and what I have learned is that it is even more unimaginable to leave it when the lows are lowest than it is when the highs are highest. I wasn’t here for 9/11, but I was here for the blackout, Irene, Sandy, and now, COVID – and for each of those times, while I went through phases of being terrified for my town and, sometimes, myself, I couldn’t imagine leaving. My husband and I went to Portland, OR, on a “scouting” trip this winter – we dreamed of a new adventure – but all of the (lovely) people we met said, with a shudder, “I can’t believe you’ve been able to live in New York for as long as you have, you poor things.” That, in December, was when I knew I couldn’t go. Then the city locked down, my husband and I started sharing the couch all day, the refrigerated trucks came to the hospitals, and it became even clearer: this city is my family. I love it even more than I thought I did.

    • Anu says...

      Love this Lauren! Not in NYC, but am feeling a similar sort of love for my dense suburb of Boston (Somerville).

  94. Kay says...

    I never thought I would be the person who moves home and takes over her family’s business, but just one month before the pandemic hit I began to “ease” my way into learning the business. Since my family members are older and high risk there has been absolutely no “easing” into anything since we are a grocery store and I have had to take on so much responsibility in such little time. It’s certainly not the plans I had for myself, but there are so many times that I sit back and think about how amazing it is that I get to do what I do in this climate. It is incredibly stressful. With case numbers climbing in our state we have had our first employee cases and people in our community and within our store are understandably fearful. Things are not easy, but I am finding so much purpose in feeding our community through our business. Providing some measure of comfort and stability in a time when there seems to be so little of either. I never thought this would be me, but this time has shown me that it can be me and that I can still find fulfillment and purpose even if my plans don’t look like the ones I had in college.

    • Meg says...

      Go you Kay! This was such a hopeful and lovely perspective on change and being our best selves amidst the unexpected. I really admire you. Your family and community are lucky to have such a leader in their midst. Thanks for all you’re doing!

    • Jill says...

      Holy cow. I wish we were best friends. You. Are. Awesome

  95. Janine says...

    Which insta are you following, Caroline? I love these types of real estate listing instas and would love to add it to my collection! The types of places on it sound exciting.

  96. Calla Martyn says...

    If anything, this situation has confirmed my love for, and desire to stay in, San Francisco. I’m in grad school and many of my classmates who come from other parts of the country had been vocal about their desire to leave as soon as we graduate. This always made me a little sad and I’ve been something of a San Francisco cheerleader in my cohort, trying to get people to get out to other neighborhoods and experience everything the city has to offer.

    Many of them are now returning to the city after leaving to be with their families. Interestingly, they seem to have a renewed appreciation and love for the city now that they’ve been away. One friend who recently returned from Boston surprised herself by bursting into tears as she biked through the Castro.

    It’s actually been really fulfilling for me to see my friends start to share my love for this city that is so much more than just trendy bars serving the tech crowd.

    • Jo says...

      Calla Martin – I’m a Bay Area native who lived ten years in SF before relocating to London. I love it here and it’s a good place to be during this.

      But I am shocked at how heartsick I have been for San Francisco throughout all this. I miss it so much more than I expected. I didn’t think I’d found home when I lived there, but now I’m wondering if I did!

    • Love this! As a native San Franciscan now living in Orange County that’s hoping to visit family later this year if things improve, this made my homesick heart happy.

    • Sarah says...

      San Franciscan here – not native but a huge fan since I moved here 3.5 years ago and I am so thankful to be sheltering here with so much natural beauty and sunshine. The city is quiet and many people have fled but I’m optimistic about what it will mean for the future of this city. I’ve never understood how so many who live here spend so much time hating on it – it’s an incredible place.

  97. Michelle says...

    Not much has changed for us and probably won’t. We live in Houston and I’m WFH while my husband goes to his office two days per week. We see friends for socially distanced bike rides and enjoy talking to our neighbors in the driveways. I don’t see any reason or ability to move.

  98. Kathleen says...

    There’s a very good episode on the “Social Distance” podcast about the phenomenon of “panic moving.” The bottom line is, don’t move based upon your experience of a (relatively) short-term phenomenon.

  99. Lee says...

    My husband and I live in DC and were planning to be city dwellers for quite some time! But then COVID hit and with two people working from home in a one-bedroom apartment + a baby on the way–we’ve started to plan to move to Northern Virginia to somewhere with more room and maybe a yard! I’d prefer to move even further afield to somewhere cheaper, but my husband will eventually have to be back in the office again (whenever that happens!).

  100. kristen says...

    After months of looking in a very tight, very expensive market (DC), my husband and I closed on our first home in late February. While we don’t know what is going to happen with the country, or DC, for now we both have stable government jobs, and our health, and are working to make this modest house a home. Unlike many, COVID has made me even more resistant to leave the city. I can walk a few blocks to the grocery store or farmers market or to pick up coffee and support local businesses. While the city has definitely changed in the last few months, feeling close to the community hasn’t.

    • Calla says...

      I feel the same way! I used to live in DC and am now in San Francisco and I feel a sort of solidarity with other people who are staying. Plus the variety has really helped with quarantine fatigue. Every week I make an effort to go walk around a different neighborhood or shop at a different market. One day everyone around me was speaking Mandarin and the next Russian.

      I totally understand people’s desire for space but I’ve found my desire for stimulation and novelty is stronger.

    • Katie says...

      I understand this, though I live in a less dense city with ample space (Portland OR). But I withered from isolation when I lived in a more suburban type neighborhood in the Bay Area during maternity leave with my second child. I never, ever want to feel so isolated again. I am incredibly grateful that I can go for walks in our neighborhood here and see so many friendly faces out and about. The sense of community is really important to me now, even if it’s just passing friends on walks or having drinks out on our front lawns.

  101. Leah says...

    We broke our kids heart in February when we told them we’ll be moving from AZ to CA in the summer. They were devastated. We were looking forward to cooler weather, beach and being near family and old friends even at the price of downsizing. Than COVID hit.
    Now we see no point in downsizing when we are at home 24/7. Why give up our big house where we each have his corner (critical for a family of introverts like us!), our huge yard, pool – which have been essential in making quarantine bearable? Why move if we are working from home anyway?
    We pushed our move to next summer. CA will wait a bit. The kids are pretty excited about it now :-)

  102. L says...

    Haven’t figured out just what the next phase looks/feels like, but I surely want to live a different kind of life going forward. When I daydream, I pay attention. Surely it’s my soul trying to tell me things.

    • jessa says...

      my whole focus the last two months has been on listening to my daydreams – let me rephrase: on relaxing enough to listen to my daydreams. i also feel “it’s my soul trying to tell me things”.

  103. Kate says...

    When everything else has been stripped away (the job as I knew it, the friendships as I knew them), I’ve also found myself thinking the same: maybe I’m not who I thought I was? Zora Neale Hurston said that there are years that ask questions and years that answer… and I can’t help but wonder if maybe quarantine will wind up being the latter for me. I can only hope!

    • Charlotte says...

      Thanks for that quote from Zora Neale Hurston, Kate! I hope this year brings you answers :)

  104. Agnès says...

    For me, making decisions in these uncertain and troubling times is not a good idea. We spent the quarantine in the country (in France) for 2 months, making our yogurts, bread, and growing veggies in a beautiful and wide space. We were SO happy to be back to Paris. I love the city, the movement, the life, the open-mindedness, the culture! Good luck every body. Don’t rush.

  105. Emily says...

    I left New York City. I made the decision to go to grad school back in my home area of Northern California at the beginning of March. While we couldn’t have known how bad it would get, I knew the virus was getting worse and felt so anxious and a visit home then told me I needed to be back for my own mental and emotional well being. I might’ve chosen this program anyway, but it definitely spurred me on, and I feel so grateful to now be near my family for at least the next two years, and in an area with so much beautiful open space and nature. The world feels ok here.

    And, my relationship is ending. At least partially because of the virus, long distance doesn’t seem feasible. And it’s given me space to realize I actually may want something different, as sad as I am to lose him.

    Such big changes for everyone. I find that these things I’m going through which once would’ve been the biggest changes of anyone I knew are now in line with their own moves and career shifts and readjustments.

  106. Meg says...

    I always felt like my friends treated my lifestyle (married at a young age, living the DC suburbs instead of the city, etc.) as some kind of affront to the generational values of being an independent woman/feminist living away from her family. It’s made me really self-conscious over the years, like I have to justify my life, and has made me put off certain decisions for fear that I would no longer have anything in common with my friends.

    But the experience the last couple months has reminded me why I did choose these things– I have a big yard to enjoy, never-ending projects, hiking and kayaking close by, a community that sustains itself beyond one neighbor moving away, and (of course) the support of a partner. My plans have changed: I’m now an unabashed enthusiast of the suburbs who is owning their decisions without needing to justify them… And I’m hoping to start the process of growing our family by the end of the year. Cross your fingers for me.

  107. Kari says...

    Working from home is what really changed my dreams and plans. It made me realize how much I hate being in the office every day, and how wildly unfulfilling my current job is. I sit in a cubicle every day with little to do, often just a warm body in a chair for a set number of hours. It’s really ignited an entrepreneurial streak in me, a crazy desire to reclaim my life and hours from an office job that isn’t filling me up or helping me build anything personally. Not sure where it will lead, but it’s a change in plans for sure!

  108. Mara says...

    In early March my husband gave his 2-week’s notice — he was on his way to starting a business that would have allowed us to live out our [more my!] dream of living anywhere in the world. Then COVID hit hard and we quickly found out that all his potential clients, in the new world of mass economic loss, would never need his services. To say that we’re devastated is an understatement. My husband is the kind of person to pick himself up and be positive (he has since found part-time work). But this gig would have been my ticket to living in Europe (I’ve tried for YEARS to find remote work or a job in Europe, to no avail — I work in PR/comms, not tech, and it’s proving impossible). Honestly it’s hard to get out of bed every morning to a job I hate with abusive, toxic management that makes me feel the lowest of the low on a daily basis.

    • Meredith says...

      I can’t imagine how you feel and get through a day. Sending you some light and energy to find a path to your dream through this difficult time.

  109. b says...

    I relocated to San Diego in February 2019 from a small city in Northern Nevada and have rebelled against San Diego from the minute the plane hit the tarmac at the airport. Now I’m here for the foreseeable future. My plans to go back to Lake Tahoe and live a quiet life in the mountains as a writer and freelancer are on hold indefinitely (possibly permanently), given the status of the world and parents who aren’t turning into Benjamin Button.

    Deep in my gut, I know I need to go home: cost of living, access to basic necessities, my mental health, my emotional health, my physical health. There are, at least right now, too many risks attached to moving. But I also know my current situation isn’t sustainable either.

    I am worried, anxious, scared, and feeling incredibly exposed and vulnerable. I am working up the courage to seek professional help, but it’s not easy.

    • Kari says...

      Sending you light and love, B. What a tough thing to face. I made the move home a few years ago for some of the same reasons (aging family, access to health care, relationships), and I know in my gut that it was the necessary move but I still long so deeply to live elsewhere (more exciting or more scenic or more career opportunities). Sending you courage and strength to seek help and make the hard decisions. xx

    • Emily says...

      Hi B, I wanted to say I totally understand. I felt the same feelings while living in New York and while it took a while, I made my way back to California. It helped me to know: 1. nothing is irreversible, and 2. ‘you made the best decision with the information you had at the time’ — don’t regret your choice to move, and know you can always move home if it’s what feels right.

    • Samantha says...

      Hi B. My husband and I moved to San Diego last summer, we just passed the one year mark. We spent 22 years in San Francisco, then a year in LA, then found our way here. I have mixed feelings about this city although I do like much of it. I’m sorry you are unhappy here! I hope you find your way back home. Good luck.

    • b says...

      Thank you all for your sweet comments. I appreciate it more than I’ll be able to express in this tiny comment box. I have a lot of deep, hard, inner work to do. Step 1 is to stop crying on Google Hangouts, but dang, it’s hard to hear hard things at 6 in the morning (the company I work for is based in New York). Thank goodness for being able to mute and hide video.

  110. Emma says...

    Beautiful post, Caroline!! And I’d love to see a picture of that house! :)

  111. Meg says...

    This year has taught me the value of downtime, of boredom, of letting the hours stretch out before me on a Sunday afternoon and not reflexively reaching to fill them up. I’m certain I’ll take this with me into “the After,” (whatever that looks like.) I used to think that a busy life was a full life. I still think that’s true but, I’m learning that maybe it’s only one type of full life.

    I loved this essay, Caroline. It’s so good to pause and reflect on what this weird year means.

  112. K says...

    My husband and I have been planning a move from San Francisco to Sonoma forever. The only issue — our jobs are here. Well, COVID hit and my husband lost his job and I’ve been working remote for 4 months. 4 months in a 350 square foot apartment with the typical / classic neighbor noise issues has led us on our way. We applied to rent a cottage in the town of Sonoma a few weeks ago and missed out. That was disappointing, but we kept looking and now we will be moving into a converted 1915 farmhouse (4 units) with an add on section with no neighbors at the end of the month. It’s not the cottage we quite wanted, but it’s a great place in the town, and the bedroom is the add on, so we know we can sleep in peace. The house is old and interesting, fire place and built-in antique cabinets. We’re on a tight budget while my husband looks for work and my salary is a bit different during these times (hopefully temporary), but we can make it work. Living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin has been very difficult during this — it seems that every day there are more people that need help and there’s nowhere for them to turn. I feel so fortunate that we are in a position to make a change and I really feel for everyone who has so much to deal with right now, so much grief and pain. I feel for San Francisco too. There are so many people here I wish I could help. It’s a very conflicting feeling — needing space and nature for my own peace, the guilt at leaving, seeing the job opportunities for my husband and so many others dry up. This decision comes with a mix of happiness, relief, guilt, sadness. Of course, I miss my family too — it’s hard to be moving into a place with a great dining room and not knowing when I’ll see my parents again, have them over for dinner, share this next stage of life in person. What a time. I’m doing my best. I’m hoping the best for others.

  113. Lane says...

    It feels like our entire life has come to a complete stop. My kids, who have been stuck at home since March, are tired of us and each other and desperate to see their friends. We had to cancel a big vacation, birthday parties, home improvement plans, everything. Now that cases are rising in our area, we’re being forced to decide if it’s safe to send our kids back to school in the fall, or if we’ll have to make drastic adjustments to our job situation in order for them to e-learn at home. I know that there are always other people who have it worse, but I feel so completely despondent given our state’s handling of Covid and national politics. It’s impossible to make plans for the future, especially in a world where I have zero faith in humanity anymore.

    • Cheryl says...

      Well said!

    • Heather says...

      Yes to all of this and then I’m also just very anxious too. I’m a planner by nature and the unknowns of what the fall looks like are really wearing on me.

      My husband is a teacher, my oldest is supposed to start kindergarten, and my youngest is normally in day care – I’m working from home for the rest of the year, but don’t know how I could manage the girls on my own. I’m nervous for him – teachers already give so much of themselves, but the additional stress of this just seems impossible.

      I’m struggling with how to know what is right for us. Should he quit? Could I handle my 3 year old while I work? Who will pick up my oldest from school?

  114. Amy says...

    I’ve postponed my wedding from this fall to fall of 2021. Some days it feels really far away and other days I worry the pandemic will still be in full swing by then. But on a positive note, my fiance and I bought a house with a big yard last fall, thinking it was more space than we would need for awhile, but that all the extra space would be nice eventually when we have kids. Well, I am so glad we have it now just for ourselves, especially while both working full time from home until further notice! Obviously the pandemic is horrible and I’d rather not have the clouds at all, but the silver linings of down time and a slow-paced domestic life have been really comforting to me.

    • Joanne says...

      Love this because it’s also my life right now! Fall wedding likely postponed to fall 2021, bought a big house last fall. Our house is in the middle of nowhere on 10 acres (quite affordable in the middle of nowhere), but the gist of it is the same!

  115. Janey says...

    Yup! Pretty much exactly what 4 months of lockdown has done to me too! I’ve gone from being the biggest fan of city living to spending many a happy hour browsing rural French property and dreaming of growing my own veggies, collecting eggs from my flock of chickens before having a swim in my own pool then sipping a cold glass of white wine while listening to birdsong and admiring my beautiful view!!
    I wonder if this strange time will actually change us or will we all slip back into our old hectic, crowded city lives?!

  116. Paige says...

    As a born-and-raised Californian now raising children in the Midwest, I’ve spent years wanting to move back West. But now being in our house for months and months, I want our pre-COVID life back! It helped me see how good we have it here; how many things were working well for our family. I’m growing in my contentment, and it feels really good.

  117. Elly says...

    My husband and I began talking about buying a house in the nearby suburbs last fall. We got very excited about it but decided to spend one more year here in NYC before taking the plunge. We wanted more time to save, and more time to enjoy the city we love and have lived in together for five years. We signed our lease renewal in early February full of hope and excitement. And then…COVID came crashing down. Now we’re trapped in a 1 BR working from home indefinitely. It would’ve been a complete scramble to buy a home in March for innumerable reasons, the complete shutdown of NY State being just one of them, and I’m still not sure it’s something we should have done. But the prospect of being trapped in this apartment until next April is VERY daunting.

  118. C says...

    I’m recently divorced, and live alone in the same large apartment, and my partner of almost 2 years has a large loft, with a combined ~3200 sq ft and $72k annual rent. We decided to give up our apartments, sell everything and live out of a 1970s GMC motorhome with my dog and camp/stay near family for the next 6-12 months. We have a kitchen and bathroom in the motorhome, so there isn’t a huge amount of exposure from travel and we have the enormous privilege to be able to keep our jobs remotely. We’re in an extremely steep learning curve figuring out how navigate this pretty complex piece of 40+ year old machinery (tho my partner has owned one before), but it’s exciting and freeing. It’s also absolutely not where I thought my life would be at 33, but it oddly feels like exactly the right move right now :)

    • Kerry says...

      I am so envious of this! What an adventure you are having…

  119. Genevieve says...

    Hmm interesting to read so many in the comments (and Caroline’s friends) have already acted! At the moment I feel like what Caroline is describing where daydreams have changed, but making any actual plans/decisions is futile, if there was ever a “wait and see” time it’s now for me. Making any decisions based on July reality seems short sighted when the situation is changing every few weeks.

  120. Emma says...

    I found there’s time to really live, as ironic and privileged as that sounds during a pandemic and the reckoning of this country. Time to wake up and enjoy coffee, easing into my day rather than the day taking over me with no control. Time to talk (actually talk) to everyone: extended family, friends near and far, my boss, the cashier at the grocery store. Time to appreciate the small, beautiful moments of every day, from the light shining through the trees to that first sip of red wine on a Sunday afternoon. I used to long to go back to our pre-covid days but I find this slower, more thoughtful way of life to be significantly humbling and eye-opening. How unbelievable it is the entire world is experience something so profound all at once.

    • Em says...

      I agree Emma. I’m finding some beauty in this mess as well <3

  121. Caroline says...

    COVID cancelled our wedding and honeymoon and all the hoopla that comes with it, but my husband and I did end up eloping/having one of those dreaded zoom weddings people make fun of (but was honestly so romantic and amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing).

    We had also been planning on moving from DC to Charleston this summer and the weekend COVID “hit” we were about to sign a lease but thought we must be bonkers to sign a contract during such a scary time. Ultimately, we pulled the trigger and while we were always planning on leaving the rat race of this city, it couldn’t come at a better time for us. It’s also comforting to know so many others who are also making big moves this summer (so many friends doing the same now) – I always like feeling like I’m not alone in major life changes.

  122. My husband and I are planning to start an organic farm. During the short time my husband was home from work during stay-at-home, the idea occurred to both of us as a way to be together and make a living, while creating a different way of life for our family. I’m so tired of only having time together for a few hours at the end of the day. There will be challenges ahead as we figure out how to get started but the decision feels right. It’s exciting and intimidating all at once.

    • This was our first year on our small farm! It has been so great, but also really hard. I mean, you expect a certain level of difficulty but lack of childcare, supply chain issues, disruptions with farmers markets and whatnot… Phew. I look forward to *next* year!

  123. Hannah says...

    I remember waiting 2.5 years to get my Green Card. Back then (maybe still?), you were told not to leave the country during the wait. And I felt so stifled, I missed my parents and friends so much, and I made all these plans about all the stamps I’d get in my passport once I got that card in my hand! Well, after I got it, it took me another 8 years to leave the country. It turns out that all those plans and dreams of “the other” is just a thing we do. But it did give me an opportunity to spend that time, traveling and seeing the beauty of the United States of America, making my place homier, laying down my own roots.

  124. Cheryl says...

    For the past decade I’ve had a job I enjoy that could easily be done from home. I also have a rigid and inflexible boss who has long resisted even a part-time telework arrangement. Now I’m happily working from home indefinitely, I rarely see the rigid boss (except on Zoom meetings), I have “sacrificed” a time-sucking commute and pricey urban parking lease, and I have more time for my elderly mother (and my lonely labradoodle). It’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic to provide me with a better work-life balance, but I don’t hate this positive lifestyle change.

    • Kari says...

      I’m with you, Cheryl! Working from home has been such a joy. Glad to be out of my office cubicle and home with my own doodle all day! Now my work day breaks include doggy walks and coffee on my balcony. Unfortunately my own rigid boss is forcing us back to the office this month, but I am so grateful for these past months working at home.

    • Maggie says...

      Same here! I have worked in a call center for a large insurance company for 17 years and the vast majority of jobs could be done from home but the company would NEVER have considered it… until COVID arrived! I like working from home so much more than I thought and we will likely continue to do so for quite a while longer. I’ve gained hours of my life back on a daily basis from not having to commute plus the money I would have spent on gas & the maintenance for my car. For me personally, working from home is a huge win and it never would have happened but not for the pandemic.

  125. Jasmine says...

    As a neurotic planner, the past few months have thrown me into a tizzy. Too much time in the day means that I’ve now constructed back up plans from Plan A to Plan Z. As a mid 20s urban dweller, it seems silly to renew a city lease when I’ve always thought of the city as my apartment and the city won’t be the same experience for a while. Currently still on the fence between moving home to save some money or to retain some normalcy in my young adult rhythm. Theme of my story – I can’ decide what will make me happy.

    • Emily says...

      I’m in my mid-20s too and totally relate to your ‘theme.’ It’s tough being our age! Old enough to make big life decisions but we don’t feel quite ready or qualified to do so yet. Hugs.

  126. mary says...

    my plans…i’m getting a divorce! lol. did not expect that i guess but here we are. trying to embrace it after 9 years of marriage.

    • Kerry says...

      Sending you all the good thoughts on this. I went through it and came out the other side so much happier.

  127. Meagan says...

    It turns out I am exactly who I thought I was- an introverted homebody who loves nothing more than to live a quiet, slow paced life. I used to feel guilty for not feeling excited to go out with friends and do all the things but now I just revel in the fact that all my introvert dreams have somehow come true. This is not to undermine any of what we are experiencing and our collective suffering. It’s just been very nice to live quietly and introspectively. Not so surprisingly, the sheer amount of time I’ve had to think has made me realize that I’m not in the right career. I have a lot of work ahead of me to try and figure out what that might be, but I’m no longer too exhausted by the pace of my life to take the time to find out.

    Your writing is a dream, Caroline. I am in awe of your talent.

    • Leah says...

      As another introvert I couldn’t agree more!

    • Morgan says...

      This. Permission granted. No questions asked.

    • M says...

      Yes, fellow introvert here. The list of what I don’t miss is much longer than what I miss.

  128. Ruth says...

    We had started looking for a new house right when everything shut down. Now, after being at home for so long, we have decided that we need even MORE space (we have two little ones) than we originally thought. And a bigger backyard! So while our plans have changed, what we want in a house has!

  129. Jessica says...

    OK, preface this with a big fat PRIVILEGE ALERT, but…
    We were planning on doing the classic Portland garage-to-ADU transformation soon – making a little house in our backyard where maybe one of my parents could live if they outlive the other, that, in the meantime we could rent out on Airbnb or otherwise. That might, by the time my kid was a teen, make a good “clubhouse” for getting away from parents.
    Now we’re 100% thinking a cabin. Something on a piece of land with trees and a little stream or river and maybe a field big enough for a peach tree. A place just a little closer to nature that we can call our own, where we don’t have to worry about flying (nope!) or public bathrooms (not as nope, but still) or shared dining (nopety nope) and still enjoy hiking and splashing in summer and fire after a bit of cross-country skiing in winter.
    Because I think everyone is thinking about their own space, right now.

  130. AK says...

    I hope you challenged these friends on moving for “different school systems,” which is basically code for schools with majority white children. This is one of the biggest examples of systematic racism in our culture and so many parents who label themselves “progressive” are taking part. Progressive means being part of the solution, not the problem.

    • Rosalie says...

      Thank you for this! I was scrolling the comments to see if anyone else wanted to challenge this. Really, I think this whole piece could use a racial justice lens. Given how much Cup of Jo talked about racial justice in the first couple weeks after George Floyd’s murder, I was hoping to see differences throughout their posts, embedded in the way they’re looking at everything. I am disappointed. I hope they move forward differently.

    • Bonnie says...

      I think that it’s really important to allow parents and families to do what they feel is best for their children. I’m sure that for some it is about white privilege and for others it’s not. There are folks of color such as myself who left the city for a second home and who will return when it feels safe to, probably in the fall. However our kids attend a private school. It would be a harder decision to return to what will potentially be a more crowded situation.

    • KGH says...

      Yes to this! This is a very important example of the ways we allow segregation and structural racism to exist in our society, while using language that codes it as “unfortunate but necessary,” rather than unacceptable. Nikole Hannah-Jones of the NYT did an investigation and analysis here (btw, her style is so cool, any thoughts of approaching her for a beauty uniform or week of outfits or something?): https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/12/magazine/choosing-a-school-for-my-daughter-in-a-segregated-city.html
      Also, a lovely and resonating piece, Caroline!

    • Jan says...

      KGH, that article, thank you!

    • Sequoia says...

      that article gave me anxiety and I doubt I’ll be able to sleep tonight. :(

    • Chris says...

      YES thank you for pointing this out.

  131. S says...

    I have learned that although lockdown was tremendously hard, the lessening of restrictions is proving even more difficult to navigate. Telling my kids they can’t see friends and then determining now who they can or can’t see, whether outdoors only vs indoors, navigating the older kids employment while my youngest wonders why he is stuck home, what school will look like and whether I am comfortable sending my youngest while we allow our oldest to move off campus for senior year at college is grueling. The lines keep shifting, I triple guess decisions and find myself wishing for the black/white of enforced quarantine sometimes because the risk was minimized vs the mental gymnastics life is right now. Who knew I would wish for a bubble to zip my family into!

    • Yep, same here. Moving forward and resuming our lives is scary!

    • Holly says...

      YES! This is absolutely how I feel. The in-between time is so much more difficult. Here in Chicago I watch my child’s friends outside not social distancing, not wearing masks and enjoying so much freedom wandering around the neighborhood. But my child with health concerns is stuck in a more tenuous position and can’t experience the same freedom. My heart aches as he tells me how much he misses his friends and I wonder what we are going to do when school comes in the fall. Risk assessment changes week-to-week as we get new information on the regular. It is so much more stressful to have kids right now as I worry about how to give them the most fulfilling existence possible in this time. If it were just me, I’d be doing home projects and reading books, taking walks and really savoring the time. I am a person divided…

  132. Danielle says...

    We ended up buying a house at the beginning of lock down. We had already been looking for months and months in a tough market. On a whim we contacted our realtor for an update on a house we had been interested in but the sellers had delayed officially putting on the market. It turned out that they had just that day gone under contract on a house. The timing felt both reckless and and perfect and so we plodded ahead only being able to spend a few minutes in the house with gloves and masks.

    We moved in about 10 days ago and it has been a real pleasure to have more space with two people working from home and the ability to plant a garden. Nesting feels right at the moment. It feels strange to think that an advantage of the house is that it would be possible for someone to quarantine on their own but that is the reality at the moment.

    It’s bittersweet too. We both come from really modest backgrounds and then had years in expensive cities so it feels like we’re making these steps kind of late. That being said I feel pretty guilty about being able to take such a step right now. I imagined being excited to share the news on social media and instead we’ve only told a few people. We live far away from most of our family and friends and imagined hosting guests and holidays and now it seems like it could be a long time before that day comes.

    • jules says...

      We did the same recently also. I can relate to how you feel about the emotions that are hard to sort through with such a big step right now. We had been looking for a long time and the perfect one came along (an acre in our neighborhood isn’t common nor what anyone looks for) that needs work and TLC, but fits us perfectly. I grew up in the country and it feels a little more like home for me than our city apartment.
      On one hand its the perfect time for us to spend our weekends DIYing, but also who knows what could happen with our jobs at any time. We also would love to have people over who want to see it and congratulate us, but we want everything to stay covid-free for our close families.
      I guess what I am trying to say is I understand how you feel, and congratulations on your move. It is exciting and scary and I hope it is a bit of relief for you as it has been for us.

  133. Sarah says...

    We moved in January from a high cost-of-living city to a university town where we can afford a larger space. My husband quit his terrible job, I got promoted and leveraged my new position to make the transfer. Our plan was to start a family once we moved and he would switch careers. Well, I got pregnant right away and then the pandemic hit and he’s had no luck on the job front. We can’t see friends or family because our families are a plane ride or 10+ hour drive from us, and we left all our friends behind in our last city and didn’t have time to make new ones after our move/before being stuck at home.

    On the bright side, I don’t have to deal with strangers trying to touch my belly, I guess.

  134. Michelle says...

    I’m considering going part time at work, even though we really can’t afford to, in case schools close in the fall. I really don’t want to be my kids teacher (I’m an eye doctor normally) but I don’t really know what other options I have. My husband is not interested in helping with school work, which would be the obvious choice financially, but yeah… I feel very confused about what is expected for working moms of elementary school kids.

    • Molly says...

      That’s so hard. It’s one of the reasons my office is going to be remote through the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year, so parents can still WFH and educate from home. Obviously not an option for a lot of professions. Honestly, I don’t think anyone WANTS to be the one helping with school work but it’s just a necessity – here’s to hoping your husband steps up.

      No suggestions, just hugs!!!

    • A says...

      Michelle – this is a deeply unfair position that your husband has put you in, and I encourage you to talk to him (maybe with the assistance of a professional) about it. Absolutely no one wants to WFH while also schooling their children. But you’re talking about taking a hit financially, and potentially to your career trajectory (because we know how women on the part time “mommy track” are perceived by employers) because your husband unilaterally opted out of a mutual obligation as to your children’s education. This is not acceptable and it’s not your responsibility to single-handedly solve it. Do not “hope” that your husband steps up. Make it clear that he needs to and figure out the middle ground that works for your family.

  135. Jenny T. says...

    Yesterday I found myself emailing a friend with words I’d have never considered six months ago: we are considering homeschooling.

    My five year old is thriving at home right now – she’s raising tadpoles and caterpillars, has papered our house in art projects, and just radiates happiness. Although it’s hard for my husband and I both to get a full work day in (a part-time babysitter helps), we don’t miss the tearful drop offs at preschool or the overtired pick ups after a full day there. Turns out for our family, preschool may have been more helpful for us parents than for our daughter.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s really sweet, Jenny xo

    • Jen says...

      Us too. I can’t imagine getting to enforce (?) kindergarten by zoom. And I can’t imagine him being happy at school with barriers, masks, no sharing…. Instead of buying the house we’ve been renting as planned, we’re looking at something smaller or a rental. What if there’s no school? What if it gets cancelled again? What my husband gets laid off again? Etc. (I manage a small farm, so income is seasonal.)

      It’s so nice to read through all these stories of others making changes. It seems like everyone I actually know is just coasting through somehow.

    • M says...

      YES! I pulled my kid out of preschool to homeschool. My kid is so much happier.

  136. I had been planning on taking what little savings I had and starting a fitness business. I had just incorporated and was looking at spaces to lease when covid hit. I am a single mom of an almost 4 year old boy with some special needs and my job went from partially remote to 100% remote. As the weeks passed and it became clear that the pandemic would have long term impacts on day to day life I realized that the single most important thing in our lives (that was also in my control) is our home. So as our lease runs out on a tiny apartment in the heart of Portland, Oregon we’re packing up our stuff to move to a house I bought with those business-starting-savings in a small town 20 minutes away. I got this place thinking the tiny space was okay because we are so close to museums and playgrounds and restaurants- all places that are now liabilities. We will soon have a backyard and a view of Mt Hood and a place to hunker down and really build a home. It was absolutely not what I expected for us this year (it’s really the opposite) but ultimately I’m so happy with the decision and see so much good coming our way.

  137. Julia says...

    We are moving to a different country! My husband, who works in healthcare, got a job (after being let go in the US) somewhere that has the situation under control and is investing in healthcare for a possible second wave. I’m somewhat excited but mostly grieving the life we are living behind, in a city I love full of wonderful friends. I wish we could at least have a going away party for tears (goodbyes always make me cry!) and good memories but now is not the time for gatherings, so we’ll be safe.

  138. Louisa says...

    We’re going to homeschool in a bubble next year- 4 families with first graders (still desperately searching for a teacher!). We’re turning the basement exercise/play room into a small classroom: putting in egress windows, ordering small tables and chairs, cushions and bins, and a playset in the backyard.

    This is 5% necessary (we could make do with using the kitchen table) and 95% needing to control some aspect of the future! It’s super fun to design a small first grade “classroom.”

    • Fay Gordon says...

      Hi Louisa! I am so curious about this. I’ve been hearing about parents in my area (Oakland, CA) setting up similar preschool pods. As our current childcare/preschool situation is in flux for the fall, I’m intrigued by the idea-but also daunted by the coordination/hiring/etc. If you have any resources or info on this, I would be very interested! Good luck as you navigate your new school!

    • Kelly says...

      This idea feels like an A Ha! moment for me. And the first time I felt a promising option for the fall. I also feel a little dumb for not thinking of it. Going to pitch it to some friends now. Thank you!

    • Cara says...

      We are planning to do something similar for pre-K with three other families. We’ve got several potential teachers who have been laid off of preschools.

    • K says...

      I’m a teacher and this is my dream. Any chance you live in Denver? 😂

    • Louisa says...

      Fay – our ad for a teacher is here to give you some ideas! https://tinyurl.com/1stBoise

      What’s been hard: (1) finding similar families. We need work-from-home parents who have an only child (or siblings that are staying at home). (2) finding a teacher! I thought we’d have a lot of interest – surely there’s an early elementary teacher who is concerned about in-person classes? But so far no one has applied.

      One parent (a lawyer) is writing up contracts; another will do finances/withholding/taxes; I’m in charge of space and hiring.

    • Em says...

      I undertake why you’re doing this. But it makes me so upset and frustrated at the same time. We have no national strategy around schools this fall, and a homeschool like this seems like an option only available to those with time and money, further widening the education gap between the wealthy and poor.

    • Fay says...

      Thank you so much for being so open and for sharing this, Louisa! This is so thorough and helpful. I love the division of responsibility and the way each family is working together. I completely agree with your frustration, Em. It is outrageous that we as families (and in reality, mothers) are completely overlooked and there is literally NO plan for how to effectively educate children during this pandemic. I have deep concerns about the widening education gap and pandemic’s long term implications. I found Deb Perelman’s recent NYT column to be the perfect rallying cry for this frustration. I hope there is some concrete, equitable plan for schools in the next few weeks, but I worry, and am grateful for helpful places like these comments to learn and brainstorm.

    • Louisa says...

      Right?? It isn’t fair and it’s another way in which my privileged kid doesn’t have to pay for the failings of our system while others do. My only consolation is that it means our local public school has 4 fewer kids in the first grade – smaller groups, fewer use of scarce resources in a state that already is 51st in the nation in per-pupil spending… But I hear you.

  139. L says...

    My partner and I realized very quickly that two adults working from a rented apartment meant that the dining room became an office and every meal was eaten at the coffee table. That, paired with the ten year old upstairs bouncing off the walls with the pent up energy of a life spent entirely indoors had us obsessively refreshing Zillow all through shelter-in-place. Once it ended and we could safely start to go to showings with a realtor, it took about 30 houses and two failed offers before we went under contract on our first home! We’d been talking about it for a while, but now it seems life isn’t going back to the way it was for a long time, we see the value in having our own space more than ever before.

  140. Ellie says...

    I was already thinking about making a big life change before the global pandemic (moving closer to family, taking the next step in my career), but the kicker for me just happened recently. As a person who lives alone, the mental health impact has taken it’s toll, so I started taking weekly (masked/distanced) walks with my one sister that does live locally. These have helped tremendously, but since she’s not always available I started to consider friends that I’d like to meet up with. Not one person came to mind that I felt strongly was worth the risk of opening my circle to. I’ve lived in my area for a long time and have seen a lot of close friends come and go, but sometimes you just look around and think “why am I still here?” – it just totally reinforced my need to build a like-minded community and close friendships. Feeling hopeful and motivated to make those plans now.

    • brittany says...

      bravo to you, ellie! best of luck!!!

    • Ellie says...

      Thank you so much, Brittany!!

  141. Mullica says...

    My plans changed for sure. I live in the city too (Forest Hills, Queens) and for the most part, I thought this was where I was gonna settle in for the long haul. When Covid-19 happened and most of my friends live in Brooklyn and none of us wanted to take the subway or uber and we have no outdoor space to host anyone, I felt very isolated and it was depressing. Our lease is up in 3 months and we’re looking to move to Bed-Stuy or Park Slope but open to a range of neighborhoods. If anyone has leads on a 2bdrm apt with potential outdoor space let me know. I’m already subscribed to the Listings Project and one of my friends recommended Triplemint real estate.

    • Emily M says...

      Yes Listings Project! Also Janelle’s List and Ghostlight Housing groups on Facebook! No to Triplemint (I had a bad experience). Good luck! This is my 8th NYC apartment, the stress of the hunt is real (but can also be a lot of fun)!

    • Mullica says...

      Thanks Emily for the other recs! Good to know about Triplemint. We got a direct referral from a friend so we’ll just tread carefully.

    • My basement studio apartment will be available in August for anyone wanting their own space in Brooklyn. It’s in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood and has backyard access, probably best for a single person or couple. Listing isn’t up yet, but I can provide information to anyone interested. Feel free to DM me on Insta at @dienesahasinsta

    • jessa says...

      I subscribe to the newsletter of NY realtor Justine Chan, and she has a links page of renter resources for NYorker’s:
      https://www.livewithplum.com/tech, along with a great deal of support for first-time buyers.

  142. Michelle says...

    I think a great takeaway from this bad situation is that we now have an opportunity to reassess. Reassess and reorganize. I am thankful to have options to choose from. I am also thankful for this time for shining light on the great people in my life. Its really helped show me who is real.

  143. Cheryl says...

    What a shakeup the last few months have been! I’m supposed to be on the Amalfi coast in the tiny town of Praiano, picking lemons off a lemon tree. Such is life.
    I think ultimately it’s been such a good thing for us as a species, so used to our orderly, fast paced lives, to accept the things we cannot change and curb our frustrations over the inconveniences of COVID life. I do wonder at the small gifts that have developed out of the intense sadness and tragedy of losing so many. I wonder if the BLM movement would have had as much traction and thank God it did happen. Of course, there’s also the larger spotlight it shines on our president (acting in his usual ways), which is a welcome thing considering the upcoming election. And who knows how many of us will be able to continue working from home, able to ditch awful commutes and stress?

    I have a lot more sympathy toward city dwellers. The thought of being stuck in the Brooklyn studio I rented for seven years in the early 2000’s gives me serious pause.
    Someone is in that studio right now looking out two small windows at the vinyl sided buildings across the street, devoid of grass and any greenery. But today I live in a coastal town and swim in my backyard pool surrounded by palm trees. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

  144. Lisa says...

    We ended up moving forward our plans to start a family (it happened our first try, which was a major shock) and because of this we moved forward our plans to settle down in Boston. We packed up our apartment in San Francisco within 2 months of finding out we were expecting (and we just moved there from NYC in October) and now we are here in Boston and it finally feels like I can breath. This isn’t ever what I would have expected for us in 2020 but it feels right and I’m very grateful.

  145. Liz says...

    Our fertility treatments were put on hold for 3 months. Now we’re finally able to resume them, but I’m so nervous about the time we’ve lost and worried they could be put on hold again if the surge continues. After 2 miscarriages and a year and a half of trying, it’s starting to feel impossible that we’ll become parents but I’m trying to remain hopeful.

    • Sending you so much love, Liz. Infertility is so hard. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through that.

    • Lindsey says...

      Oh Liz, that is so hard. Hugs and sending hope your way.

    • Paige says...

      Cheering you on, Liz! I can already tell you’re going to be an amazing mom.

    • Brianna Glenn says...

      Hoping for the best for you! Will say a little prayer on your behalf today that you get everything you’re dreaming of.

    • Amber says...

      Sending good thoughts your way!

    • Katie H says...

      Thinking of you, Liz! It took us 3 full rounds of IVF over the course of 2 years before I became pregnant. I remember writing about my fears in the comments section of CoJ during that time, and I still appreciate the notes of support and how much they meant to me. Here’s hoping this one helps you remain hopeful. :)

    • brittany says...

      hey Liz! im with you. We’re planning for the transfer of a forzen embryo on july 28th. it feels like a scary time to be moving forward with IVF, but also the fear of continued delays makes us think we should go for it.

    • Kristin says...

      I am so sorry about your losses. Though we have different experiences, I feel you–I too want nothing more than a baby and am increasingly feeling like it will not happen. I am 2.5 years into trying, 1.5 years into fertility treatment, and have never seen a positive test. I am having my fourth uterine surgery in a year on Friday to see whether we can salvage my uterus before moving to a gestational carrier. The prospect of working with a gestational carrier during the pandemic is so scary too–will there be any? It’s all scary! Hang in there as best you can. r/infertility is a great place for online support.

  146. Lynea Wilson says...

    My plans haven’t changed but my fantasies have: my own private greenhouse. I don’t know where its come from, but whenever stress creeps in I scroll through Hilton Carter’s Instagram imagining how I would fill my lush little world. The real kicker is I live in a tropical climate where a greenhouse would be completely impractical…

    • Meg says...

      I am dream-team-greenhouse, too! I live in an apartment in Chicago and have no space for my plant dreams. I started browsing land for sale in Wisconsin, and have spent a fair amount to all of my discretionary funds on plants for my back porch. Verdancy or bust!

  147. sarah m says...

    We moved from LA to the Philly suburbs on April 30th – we flew our family of 5 for a whopping $29/ticket. I lost my job and my husband’s work was at a standstill. We were paying OUT THE NOSE for rent in LA. So we sold everything, shipped two cars, and peaced the hell out. We are able to stay at a family members’ house which allowed us to “land” and reassess next steps. Covid flipped our lives upside down for the better. We are close to family, surrounded by nature…we feel incredibly free and grateful we followed our hearts.

    • Michelle says...

      Excellent! I love to hear stories of people making a switch and starting up fresh. All the best on your new path!
      PS-sorry about the job loss etc, but you know what I mean. You got this!

    • Lainey says...

      I have been a working mom since my oldest was born almost 7 years ago, and would consider myself to be pretty career-focused. Being home with my kids for a couple of months during SIP made me realize how much I want more involvement in their daily lives. I am happier, as are they. While it’s not possible financially for our family right now for me to leave my job right now, I am setting my sights on looking for something more flexible once the economy recovers, whenever that is. In the meantime, I want to continue the rituals we’ve started during this time: family bike rides, evening walks, and game nights.

    • Lainey says...

      (Not sure why my comment showed as a reply to your post – sorry!)

  148. Rupa says...

    Beautiful essay! Thanks for taking us into your world. I always love your writing.

  149. Kristen says...

    Thank you for sharing. Such times we’re in.

    It feels important to acknowledge the privilege (white privilege, class privilege) that’s baked into language/realities like this:

    “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. ”

    Because of course for so many, leaving is not an option. A prohibitive expense, for one.

    • Nina says...

      I agree. And I liked this essay, but I’m also a little bit uncomfortable with anything about how coronavirus has altered people’s lives that doesn’t acknowledge that it’s *ended* a lot of people’s lives.

    • Ellen says...

      Came here to say the same thing, Kristen. Completely agree with you.

    • ABC says...

      Yes, Nina. So many people died. Would love to see something on this site acknowledging these deaths, helping people process the grief. As a country we are largely ignoring them. 130,000 and counting. How do you grieve when denied the rituals of death? How do you support those grieving from afar?

    • Monica says...

      Was thinking the same thing. Thanks for bringing this to light, Kristen. I love Caroline’s writing but wonder about what Cup of Jo could do to diversify its voice and audience.

    • Amy says...

      Thank you, this puts everything in perspective. I had a comment half written, but then I thought how privileged and whiny it sounded; despite job loss, we still have a house with a garden, one job, a good school for the kids. We can still afford to go grocery shopping, put gas in the car, purchase necessities and go hiking on the weekends. The big trip was cancelled, we had some crazy health issues in the last few months, and the husband has been looking for work without success, but currently, we are okay. I am grateful each month when I can pay the mortgage (and I am aware that I am privileged to have a mortgage). Volunteering at the local food bank also helps to be aware of one’s privilege …

    • Gabriela says...

      Yes, yes, yes! I am a big fan of Caroline and enjoyed this essay but thank you for acknowledging this. Many people are in situations that they cannot leave or change.

    • Jax says...

      Thanks for this. Also adding that for many POC, they don’t feel comfortable leaving a super diverse city environment for a much less diverse rural area. I hear my white friends bring that option up, but it’s not something I necessarily feel as safe in exercising.

    • Sequoia says...

      @Jax As someone who desperately wishes my family could just pick up to smaller and much cheaper town, even here in California I just DO NOT feel safe enough at all to make such a move. I love everything about small town life. In times like these I want escape to the towns that exist in Hallmark movies but they aren’t real and the real ones aren’t an option for us.

    • Eleanore says...

      I thought the same thing. This platform, at its best, is used to inspire and educate. A spotlight on nursing home workers could be interesting, or a piece on small, local businesses and how they’re pushing through, maybe an anonymous piece by someone evicted during COVID?
      New perspectives and genre variety keep me coming back to Cup of Jo!

  150. We canceled our wedding which was meant to happen this weekend.

    It’s still hard to process. I also canceled two women’s retreats I was meant to run- one in Palm Springs and the other in Portugal.

    I think this year has taught behavioral flexibility— life zigs, you zag.

    It’s not fun or always easy but we’re against the unknown to which no one can control so why not move with it. We don’t have the same feedback loops we used to have and that’s just weird.

    • Joanna says...

      I hope you still get yourself some pretty flowers and share a good piece of cake with your partner. Celebrations are in order, even if it’s not what you imagined!

    • Katie H says...

      I love that phrase, Ash! Life zigs, you zag. :)

    • Cara says...

      Ash is my wife’s name too. I hope you still get to celebrate, both now with your partner and later.