It has now been one month since my work switched us to a fully remote schedule. The kids have been doing home school for four weeks. And my mother-in-law came to stay with us about three weeks ago.
The six of us have been living in a 3 bedroom, 1,000 square foot apartment. If you know us, you know that in spring of last year, we made some major changes in our life. We were living in a 5 bedroom house on a corner lot with a full basement. It wasn't a huge house but we definitely had more room to spread out, a cul-de-sac to ride bikes on and a garden that is in full bloom right now.
After Feraz's dad unexpectedly passed away, we thought more about the life we wanted to live. If we were to die, what would we leave behind? What would be the value of all the stuff we were accumulating and what would we have wished we had more time for?
When it came to the stuff, it was easy. All the
We decided to make some major changes. Feraz would become a stay-at-home dad, we would apply the DC public school lottery to see if the girls could get into a school close to my work and we would drastically minimize our life and move to the city.
The girls got into an amazing school on the same street as my work and we started the hunt for a place in DC. We decided to go with an apartment so we wouldn't have to worry about maintenance or landscaping and we would still have space to spread out around the building. This would also be a low commitment way to see if we wanted to move back to the city on a more long-term basis. We put most of our large belongings on FB Marketplace and either donated or sold most of our small stuff on LetGo. Initially, I had been really excited to get rid of things but as I gave away stuff from my travels or sold the dining table that we had so many meals around, there was a certain pain in letting go.
The move was a great one for our family. Before the quarantine, I could hug my family good-bye and be sitting at my desk at work in under ten minutes. In the mornings, Feraz would get the kids ready and I would walk the girls to school. I got to participate in events at their school and when I couldn't Feraz and Na'eel would be there. I could stop by the house for lunch anytime I wanted and see the boys.
I have long theorized that families who live in small places get along better and at least in our case, so far, that has been true. I'm guessing part of the reason for that is that even if there is a disagreement or squabble, the incentive to work it out is high when you can't really get away from each other. Haha. So, for better or worse, our family unit continues to grow stronger and more cohesive.
We all spend most of our day in our one open living space which has our living room, kitchen and dining area. If you follow along on Instagram, you have probably seen that space many, many times. It's been totally fine. We have electricity, food, water, internet connection, temperature controlled living. We talk to each other throughout the day and it hasn't felt crowded. Maybe that's because without a bunch of things everywhere, it's the people that make the space and we have had the room to work on our relationships with each other.
In the last ten months, I have not missed the stuff we have let go. There have been very few instances where I've wanted or needed something we don't have anymore. And lately, I've been getting the same question a lot. I bet you miss your life in the suburbs now, don't you? And after thinking about it a bit. The answer is easy. Not at all. What we've gained as a family by valuing stuff less and our togetherness more has not been diminished by having to be quarantined together, it has expanded.
I hope that the opportunity to slow down in some ways has helped people think more deeply about what is important to them. That over-scheduled and chaotic lives haven't just translated to too many zoom calls and house parties and instead have allowed for connection with the things that give our lives meaning.
Right now, all the kids are sleeping (well, Nouri is 'resting'), the apartment is clean and both the dishwasher and laundry machine are buzzing. I lay on the sofa with the sun streaming, a tea in my hand, my book besides me. I have everything I could ever need and every ounce of privilege I have is not lost on me. I am grateful.