Lessons from the Plague Year
Part III - At Home
After being used to literally eating out every night, I learned to cook again…and can't wait to resume my former routine!
Fun response: I learned of my new obsession for classic cars. It’s quite ironic given our profession since it is not a frugal hobby! More serious response: In starting my first job out of college, I have learned the importance of budgeting and just how expensive DC can be!
I learned about the lovely hiking trails in and around the Washington DC area and will continue to explore more.
In the midst of this most difficult past year, we have learned how much we depend on each other to pick up our spirits and share our lives. Having a zoom meeting or walking in our neighborhood (at a distance, of course) and connecting with a wave has meant so much getting us through everything.
I learned how to properly play chess.
Something I learned extensively over the past year was about urban planning and architecture. It wasn’t an accident – I purchased my first home in one of America’s first planned communities (Reston, VA), and I was stunned by how different it was from anywhere else I’d ever lived. Reston has a museum that’s within walking distance from my backyard that holds outdoor talks over the summer and attending became our tradition! I’ve now branched out into reading up on Brutalist and New Urbanism styles to better understand my new town.
I am a very big advocate for Trader Joe’s and my algorithm on my Instagram managed to show me an account of someone who puts together recipes strictly with Trader Joe’s items. One of my favorites that I found was sausage, tortellini with pesto filling, tomato basil sauce, and ricotta cheese. It was delicious and super simple to make!
I also managed to perfect my avocado toast-making skills during this time which includes olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt, and garlic powder, sriracha, eggs, and feta cheese. It will now be very hard for me to convince myself to pay $15 at a coffee shop when I can make it at home for the entire week at the same price!
One thing I learned about myself during the last year is I am truly a badass! I can work from home 8-hours/day, be a virtual learning/homeschool teacher, exclusively breastfeed a newborn, make dinner for my family 5 times a week while getting no more than 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and still keep everyone alive! Aside from that, I didn’t have any time left to master any cool new skills lol!
I learned to think more about the businesses I want to support. When did it become a priority to me to have a new John McPhee book or an old Neil Young record on my doorstep in two days, at $2 off? I’d rather take the time to support Kramerbooks or Politics & Prose, a Byrdland Records or Record Exchange Silver Spring. Let alone the hundreds of small restaurants in and around the city. Still trying to figure this out, because Amazon is so convenient in so many ways.
On a lighter note, I learned how to make gumbo, got serious about perfecting Neapolitan pizza, and went down a rabbit hole learning about mezcal.
In the past year, I’ve learned how much we all need each other. The phone calls, the text messages, the rare cards via snail mail - fragments of communication and connection that remind us that we’re not alone, we’re not forgotten, and there are others out there who care enough to reach out to us, even as they are wading through their own siloed struggles. The trick is remembering to reach out in return, as you never know who needs to feel less alone, less forgotten, and more loved.
I’ve learned to be better at accepting changes and adjusting, as opposed to stressing. Working from home and being a new dad really forced this on me, but for the better.
Before the pandemic, going to the gym was a staple in my everyday routine. I woke up almost every morning and went straight to a group fitness class – it was how I got my day going. When gyms closed, I was distraught – this was a huge part of my life, growing up it was sports and post-school it was group fitness classes. What was I going to do now? I’ve never been a runner, I’ve never gone out and run more than 3 miles – as far as I knew, I couldn’t. However, with limited options but nice weather, I decided to go out and run every morning. Each day, I’d add a little distance. I’m up to 11-mile runs and have decided to run a half-marathon on October 2nd. This is something I would never have considered prior to the pandemic, something I never thought I would be able to do.
I’ve learned that we take “time” for granted. I state that because we often put things off for tomorrow; next week, next month or even next year. For example time with our family; friends or just taking time to enjoy the small things in life. I’ve lost family members and close friends during this pandemic. What I’ve learned is I can’t control “time” and once it’s gone, wishing for it back is unattainable and all we have left, are the memories.