I Just Moved Halfway Across the Country During a Pandemic

life Jul 14, 2020

I’m excited to report that I am now back in Austin after an incredible five years in Los Angeles. I’ve had many people asking me why we decided to move and what it was like to undertake such a massive move during these crazy times.

In many ways, early 2020 was the first time I felt like we had FINALLY gotten our lives together, and things were working for us in California. The time we spent there was great - dreamlike in many ways - but it took some time to get things figured out. We had finally reached a point where we were feeling stable. We loved our neighborhood, our son’s school situation was great, and we had built a close network of friends. I still flew back to Austin regularly to work with the Yoga With Adriene on production, but the rest of the team was remote, and it was working great.

My last trip to Austin was in January. That was the first time I remember hearing about something called “Coronavirus.” Grant (our editor) and I were traveling together, and we talked about it on the flight home. We joked that it was probably a terrible time to be on a plane. But, back then, it was still something weird and mysterious and far away.

Then two months later, things got serious fast, and the lockdowns hit. Everything in L.A. shut down hard - including the schools. Our life changed immediately. The morning family walks to school were over. Our window of time to work child-free was gone. Our regular haunts were closed. Even the streets of our neighborhood - normally bustling - were empty, and our neighbors had disappeared into their houses.

The first few weeks were pretty good - enjoyable even. Like everybody else, we found our new routines: family movie nights, Zoom calls with friends, puzzles, daily walks through the neighborhood. In a lot of ways, it was a relief to suddenly have my schedule cleared and no longer be driving all over the city for meetings.

Time slowed down.

As COVID cases started to grow, now only a few degrees of separation away, I got the sinking feeling that we were going to be in this for the long haul. Even if we were somehow able to get the virus under control, we had to prepare for severe economic fallout.

I also realized that it was going to be quite a while before I’d be ready to get on a plane again, and our backlog of videos was about to run out. The distance between Texas and California was growing bigger by the day.

We started to discuss moving back to Austin.

In addition to Austin being the home base of Yoga With Adriene, Hilah’s family is here as well as most of our long-term friendships. Also, my family is in Oklahoma City, which is drivable from Austin. We were a little more hopeful in those days. I envisioned seeing all of our old friends regularly and making monthly drives to OKC to visit my family.

With the help of a close friend who is also a realtor, we found what looked like a fantastic house. Based only on the video tour and his enthusiasm, we put in an offer. A few stressful weeks later, we closed on the house and made preparations to move.

We used a moving company for the furniture and the big stuff, but we decided the best course of action was to drive rather than fly.

On June 1st, the movers showed up and started loading up all our belongings. That afternoon we packed up our Honda Pilot with a couple of suitcases, two adult humans, a 5-year-old, two large dogs, and a minnow bucket full of tropical fish. Hilah had packed a cooler full of sandwiches and snacks so that other than refueling, bathroom breaks, and hotels, we wouldn’t need to stop.

In an ideal scenario, we would have had a going away party or had the chance to say goodbye to more people in person. Instead, we pretty much ghosted on the whole city. We said tearful goodbyes to a few of our neighbors, and then we set out across the wasteland.

I anticipated a relatively easy drive, but this was also at the peak of the protests, so traffic was grindingly slow most of the way out of California. A lot of exits were closed with police cruisers parked next to the ramps - lights flashing. Protestors filled the overpass bridges displaying signs at the traffic below. Alerts kept pinging our phones, letting us know that there was now a curfew at 8:00 pm. Then 6:00 pm. Then 4:00 pm.

It was unnerving.

And then Flint had to poop.

We found an exit that was still open but soon discovered that all the bathrooms were closed. ALL of the bathrooms. We had not anticipated or planned for, and he wasn’t open to my suggestions that he go crouch behind a dumpster and do it there. We ended up renting a hotel room in a run-down Super 8 Motel. Although the room was cheap, it may officially be the most expensive poop ever.

The pace picked up once we got out of California. We blazed through Arizona, stopping in Phoenix for the night. The hotel had just reopened and felt clean and safe. In the morning, we even had breakfast at the restaurant. It was our first - and still only - restaurant visit since all this started.

With the dogs walked and the car reloaded, we hit the road again, speeding through the rest of Arizona, New Mexico, and finally crossed the border into Texas. But Texas is vast, and we still had a long way to go. We stayed at the only dog-friendly hotel in Fort Stockton, a night and day difference from our experience in Phoenix. No masks and nobody was concerned. But after getting settled in, we all got a good night’s sleep.

In the morning, we discovered there was a fenced-off area for dogs, so we let Daisy and Banjo run around. We also got our first real reminder of the Texas heat.

We got back on the road and made it to Austin by early afternoon. To my surprise, even the tropical fish survived. After months of planning and thinking about it, we finally got to set foot in the new house and see everything for the first time. It was even better than we had hoped for and honestly quite a relief.

Our furniture arrived later that week, and we started another two-week quarantine before seeing anybody again.

The timing worked out so that I was able to shoot the live stream for International Yoga Day. Now we are back in action producing new videos - albeit in a much more careful and distanced way than we have in the past.

Given the seriousness of our current times, the last thing I want to write or post about is buying a house. We intentionally didn’t post anything about it on social media. We love the house and are excited about this new phase of our lives, but in reality, not that much has changed. We have just moved our lockdown situation to a new location.

We love being in Austin, but all of our regular haunts are closed here, too. Our Austin friends are being cautious and not venturing out much. I still haven’t worked up the nerve to visit family in OKC.

And now the virus is only one degree of separation away.

It feels like a Black Mirror episode.

But I’m settled into my new home office with plenty of time on my hands. I’ve never felt so fortunate that I went all-in on digital business and remote teams a few years ago. All the people who have lost their jobs and their loved ones to the virus are always on my mind.

I’m just going to keep working and continue trying to contribute something positive to the world.

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