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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

"It's a Pandemic. We're All in Misery."

In October of 2019, Andrea and I announced that we would be moving to Virginia. A friend of mine, whom I have yet to meet in real life as we met when we were both blogging over on LiveJournal, messaged me through Facebook.

“So with your news about moving to Virginia, you should look up Anne Soffee… just friend her on FB. She lives in Richmond….. She is (redacted) a writer (legit published author) and she is a real estate agent. PLUS she is hilarious.”

Sold. So I sent Anne a friend request with an introduction even though we would be living 2 and a half hours from Richmond. She accepted.

In early to mid-April, we learned we could relocate from Forest, Virginia to Richmond, Virginia and we jumped at the chance. Given the fact that we’ve resided in our current home for 14-months, this may come as a surprise to people. I have repeatedly joked that I don’t recommend moving during a pandemic. Only, I wasn’t kidding. I don’t recommend that. In terms of the pandemic, my brain keeps landing on that line from the Christmas Vacation movie.

“I don’t know what to say except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”

Replace Christmas with pandemic.

Only ours was a different kind of misery. I am not saying it was worse than your misery – this isn’t a fucking competition. Or hey – you can win. But it was misery all the same. The misery of isolation from our tribe whom we would have, right or wrong, deemed part of our COVID pod/bubble and they would have sustained us through the months. So here we are – vaccinated in the shadow of Liberty University. This past Wednesday, my hairdresser, who’s last name is Falwell (yes, those Falwell’s) assumed I had a husband. I briefly considered correcting her but decided against it knowing my next hair appointment will be at a very LGBTQ friendly salon in Richmond.

I want to be very clear that neither Andrea nor I have had a bad experience in Forest or the surrounding area. Our neighbors couldn't be more welcoming and kind. In November of 2020, David Sedaris released a new book called The Best of Me. Which meant that it wasn’t really new at all but was actually a compilation of his prior works. I opted for the Audible version since it was narrated by Sedaris and I’d no doubt heard all these stories (or most of them as I believe he may have tossed in one or 2 new essays in). At the end of the book, there was a recording of Sedaris being interviewed. If you’re not familiar with Sedaris, he’s 1) hilarious 2) gay and has been with his partner Hugh for over 31 years and 3) is originally from North Carolina.

Sedaris and Hugh’s primary residence is in England but they also own a beach house in North Carolina. In the interview at the end of Sedaris’ book, he described a scene that had unfolded on the North Carolina beach that summer. A beach goer, had either ran or driven up and down the beach waving an American flag. And people cheered, many for Trump (whom, spoiler alert, neither Sedaris and myself voted for). And Sedaris said that in spite of that sentiment, there was no doubt in his mind that he could have gone up to any one of those homes, some of which no doubt were owned by Trump supporters, and he could have asked for help and he would have received it. That always stayed with me – because I do believe it to be true for where Andrea and I currently live.

So – once we got the green light to relocate, again, this time to Richmond, I though of Anne Soffee and messaged her.

I am a big believer in manifesting. Setting a clear intention. So we sat down to do just that before meeting Anne to view homes in and near Richmond.

After the first weekend, we made an offer on a home and it didn’t get accepted. The thing about manifesting is that you have to take rejection on the chin. Rejection is the universe nudging you towards what you’re manifesting. So I was undeterred by this temporary set back.

We had looked at some homes that would require further downsizing, which I considered until Andrea pointed out that we have “carefully curated” our belongings over the years – including our furniture. I thought of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and his home in nearby Poplar Forest – both of which we’ve recently visited. TJ was an enigma – some may say hypocrite. He was anti-slavery and yet he owned slaves. Monticello no longer keeps his secrets – they put his relationship with slave Sally Hemmings in the open. Sally was a child – which is particularly creepy and criminal to consider. Hypocrisy and pedophilia aside, TJ did do good things – like pen the Declaration of Independence. He also had the most interesting collection of belongings that he curated. Many of these belongings can still be seen at his homes today. Andrea and l sat back down with our notebook and we got a little clearer about what we were manifesting.

And we found it this past week. Offer accepted. We close on June 14th. Just prior to our friends from Massachusetts visiting us.

Our new home is in a neighborhood in Richmond called Bellevue, which is reminiscent of West Roxbury/Cambridge in the Boston area, only we weren’t yet priced out of it. The prior owners had resided in it for 45-years. She’s now 73 and he’s 83. They’re in a nearby retirement community and willing to come tell us all about their beautiful plantings in the backyard, the neighbors, and their home that they referred to as their “palace”.

Yes. Come on over. And that goes for the rest of you too – we’ll now be a 17-minute drive from the Richmond airport – a vast improvement from our current schlep of 2.5 hours. One way. So come see us. We’ll pick you up.

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