When the reality of the coming shutdown became clear, we started thinking hard about when and how we would move 500 miles. We had been thinking about the move for a while, had even visited the areas we were thinking of moving to but hadn’t started seriously planning. We had originally planned to move in the summer but when the media started discussing the economic effects of the shutdown, we realized it might be incredibly hard to sell our old place and move in the summer or even in the next year or so.
We decided to move as soon as we could so that we could start showing our place empty before the housing market was seriously affected. We decided to rent in our new location to give us time to get to know our new area and figure out where we want to live long term. This meant that we needed to pick an apartment virtually.
We looked at various apartments in our general area, searched through Google Maps, and did FaceTime virtual tours. We were constantly discussing places for a few days while also searching for movers and a realtor. We did virtual realtor meetings and emailed movers. Everything was done online but it didn’t make it less work.
Once we arranged everything, the movers came in person (but we stayed in the opposite room from them) and we packed up our personal stuff and drove down south to stay in a family cabin in the woods in the same state we moved to (and that was empty). We stayed there for the weekend until the movers could come to our apartment.
We spent the weekend enjoying the fresh air and avoiding everyone in the area. We stopped for gas and brought our own food to the cabin. I cooked for two days to make sure we would not need to go shopping or pick up food. We brought masks and Lysol wipes (that I bought in bulk at Costco before all of this because part of having OCD for me does include contamination fears). We had snacks and silverware.
When we got to the new apartment we picked up the keys that were left for us and waited for the movers, who dropped off our stuff quickly and left to go further south that night.
When we moved, things had just come to a standstill in much of the country. People were staying at home in the belief that it would only last a couple of weeks or a month. Most people weren’t moving and weren’t worried about moving.
Now, though, it’s been almost two months and a lot of people are facing the ends of leases and the need to move sooner rather than later. And like everything else, they’re going to need to do it virtually. And it’s hard because we can only postpone and push off so much. Leases are up or need to be renewed for a year. Jobs will start. Even with all the virtual options out there (like virtual exercise classes), there are still limits to what we can do virtually.
Yet, at the same time, having a move (a huge and stressful thing even in the best of times) was actually a wonderful distraction and something for me to focus my nervous energy on. Instead, of focusing on a pandemic and the economy and all the things I couldn’t change or fix, I focused on finding movers and packing and figuring out which apartment made the most sense for our future lives (including a future that hopefully includes the subway!). I could control those things and make plans. I was less stressed perhaps during that period than at any other during this shutdown.
Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on these silver linings—the fact that the subway can shut down stations and tracks to fix them without messing up many people’s commutes, I am inspired to take the time to try new recipes and bake new treats, and my bike rider friends can feel safer on the roads than they ever have before in major cities. Like my mental health moving in a pandemic.