• Kenzi

Lessons From the U-Haul

As I sit in my mostly empty apartment, surrounded by the last of my belongings, I'm reminded of all the other times I've had to pack my life into a handful of boxes. Of course there was college, then my first apartment, then my last semester spent at Emerson's Los Angeles campus. There was the brief return to my home on the east coast, and finally, my official move back to LA.

All pretty momentous, exciting occasions. I remember how overwhelmed I felt each time I packed those boxes- with emotion, with adrenaline, with big dreams of the future. I remember feeling certain that I was on the right track towards that future. In the moment that I watched LAX disappear behind me just two months ago, everything felt infinitely possible. I was sure this is where I was meant to be. So when stay at home orders began just two weeks after my arrival, needless to say I was nervous. Everything I'd worked for (all those jobs to save up money, graduating college a year early, moving across the country from the places and people I'd known all my life) seemed to be crumbling before my eyes. Suddenly my future felt under attack.

Initially my boyfriend (aka my roommate) and I decided to wait things out. After all we'd done to make it out here, we weren't going to give it up so easy. The rest of March came and went, and things seemed about as okay as they could be. Sure, the job market had dried up, but we had enough savings and support to sit tight for the time being. As we moved into April, though, it became more and more clear that no one would be looking to hire an unpublished writer or an unrepped actor. Money was starting to become a constant worry. Our families, still on the east coast, felt further than ever before. The thought that something might happen to them while we're so far away was horrifying.

The decision to leave Los Angeles was not an easy one. It still isn't, even as I finish writing this from Boston. It's taken me many, many tears and a lot of talks with loved ones to begin coming to terms with this reality. With everything else going on in the world it seems absurd to cry about going from one safe and loving home to another. My situation is not unique, and I know how fortunate I am to have the support system I do. But COVID's impact is wide reaching and everyone is entitled to grieve their losses, big or small.

After the tumultuous journey it took me to get to Los Angeles, it's not easy to see a silver lining. I, like so many, was about to start my life in earnest. It's tough to spend years striving for something, finally see the fruits of your labor, and then immediately have them taken away. Personally, the last two weeks have involved a lot of pushing through the three Ds: disappointment, discouragement, despondency. I'm constantly reminding myself (and actually starting to believe) that this is not the end of the road, but just a bump along the way.

So. Why am I posting this? Well for one, to explain why my blog has been lacking the last couple of weeks. Secondly, to articulate these thoughts beyond just constantly turning them over in my head. And most importantly, to remind everyone reading this that no matter how your life has changed, you are not alone. Everyone in the world is experiencing upheavals, massive shifts, unfathomable loss. Suffering is not a contest, but I've always found it helpful to remember that it is part of the human condition- now more so than ever before. It's a cold comfort, but I imagine most of us will take what we can get right about now.

Remember that you're allowed to be disappointed by cancelled events, changed plans, or unexpected adjustments. But also remember that no one has been unaffected by this. Remember that life itself has been put on hold, and no matter what it might feel like, you are not falling behind. Humanity is being forced to retreat, but that also means we can use this time to reset, to heal, to become better. Whatever life you had pre-COVID, and however that life has been impacted, know that now is a time for you to shape the life you want to have post-COVID.

Embrace those silver linings, no matter how thin they may seem. Have compassion and patience, both for yourself and those around you. Think about the future you'd like to have at the end of all this, and then take steps towards it. Trust that you, like all of us, will continue finding ways to make it through.

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   © 2020 by Kenzi Vaughan