Eight months ago, I was raising two kids and had a job, a boyfriend, a home, and a dog.
Today, thanks to the pandemic, I have none of those.
And I’m okay with all of it. I packed whatever possessions I could fit into my car, grabbed bobble mom, and left Los Angeles, heading north.
At the beginning of 2020, I was working 60 hours a week in event production for a 10,000-person conference in Vegas. We had been busting our butts for five months. Then, three weeks before the event, it was canceled due to the Coronavirus. As my executive producer said, it was like being pregnant for nine months and not ever giving birth.
Of course, we’d all find out in a week or two that this was not an isolated story. The world was about to get Covid-canceled. And the ripples would soon be coming.
The ripple for my career: a complete flood. My industry was drowned underwater. We don’t know when events are coming back, but anything close to its previous status will be years away at best.
The ripple for my daughter, who is 15: school went online and her spring break flight to see her dad was canceled. The lull in June seemed like the safest window for her to fly across the country and spend the summer with him. And since school remained online in the fall, she’s staying there for her junior year. It’s possible she’ll finish out high school at her dad’s. Though I will visit her soon, that day I put her on a plane in June may have been the last day she lives with me.
The ripple for my son, who was 18: his part-time job vanished. He was already uninspired by community college, so now he had nothing. His days were filled with apathy. By July, after he had turned 19, I needed to give him a nudge. There were some jobs out there and he needed to get one and start paying rent. He said, “Give me two months, and I’ll move out.” Two months later, he moved to Seattle.
The ripple for my home: it was now an empty nest. With both kids gone, I didn’t need a three-bedroom house for myself, so I thought I might rent it out. Within 72 hours of posting to “see if anyone would bite,” I had to move out.
The ripple for my dog: without a home, he became neurotic about moving around. He had been a runner since the day I saved him from being euthanized 10 years ago—I mean, he may have run away over 100 times. Since I lived in a development where everyone knew him, he always got returned. But a week after leaving that home, he ran away for the final time.
The ripple for my boyfriend: after more than two years of trying to make a round peg fit a square hole, the pandemic had smooshed us together in a way that made it clear we could never work as partners.
I was suddenly and completely untethered. But I’m not devastated. Quite the contrary.
My daughter is thriving at her dad’s place with a stepmom, stepbrothers, and pets. I miss her madly, but our weekly video chats are richer than our passing conversations in the house or car. And for 11 years, I’ve been the homework parent, the chores parent, and the doctor appointment parent. Now I get to be the vacation parent. I’m excited about that. As a bonus, I decided to shed the history of a bitter divorce.
My ex and his wife and I have finally put 11 years of bitter past behind us. We’re actually laughing together again.
My son is crushing it in his new city. He got a job within a few weeks (and a promotion two weeks after that), got his driver’s license (which he couldn’t seem to conquer in L.A.), and his first girlfriend. We have such great chats and get along so much better than we did when he was under my roof. His girlfriend is eager to meet me, which says a lot about the way he portrays me, and that makes my insides smile. I’m heading to Seattle to see him, and I can’t wait.
Losing my job was a bit of a relief. Though I loved working for this agency/client before on some incredible jobs, this one was tedious and thankless and it was taking its toll on me. So, losing the stress and getting unemployment wasn’t a bad thing. It also allowed me to consider an entirely new career path. I’ve started taking a course in something totally unexpected, which might lead to wonderful people and places.
My dog was found and eventually adopted by an older couple whose dog had recently died. He has a new home where he won’t have to bounce around, and I’m happy for the three of them.
My ex-boyfriend and I know that what was is gone. What’s next is up to us. We make terrific Thunder Buddies. We adventure well together, and I’m going to Denver with him to pick up his new tiny home (a converted U-Haul truck) and drive it back to the west coast. Someday, we’ll both find more compatible romantic partners. For now, with the relationship strife aside, we’re having fun and enjoying each other’s company with honesty and compassion.
My house is still there. It just isn’t my home anymore. I want to find a place that makes me feel warm. In the meantime, I found a group of fantastic people who put together a month-long camping community in Joshua Tree for spiritual and intellectual connection, and I was invited to join. (We’re all taking COVID-19 tests first.)
Because of the pandemic, I get to visit a dozen friends and have vacation time with my kids, and I get to pick up an RV and commune with like-minded new friends in the desert! And these things are only possible because I let go of old, dying things. Old beliefs. Old habits.
So now, with a statue of my adventure-spirited mom on my dashboard, and a sleeping bag in the back, I’m happily curious about where the road takes me.
Instead of wanting my world to get “back to normal,” I’m moving forward into what’s to come.
Here I go.