We should have known in early February, when we evacuated my mom from China. We were in a small town in Colombia then with no running hot water, a world away.
When we crossed the border into Nicaragua, a doctor came running up to me frantically, but it turned out he was more concerned about my yellow fever card than anything else.
By the time we reached Costa Rica, the last stop on our South America trip, we saw tourists wearing masks for the first time.
We flew back to Boston on March 10. Days later, cancellation requests on our Airbnb started flying in. We went from 90% occupancy to zero.
In May, emboldened by the city’s new eviction moratorium, one of our tenants decided to stop paying rent, even though she still had a job.
By June, every airline had cancelled our summer flights but refused to refund us. Our stimulus checks never came, and our health insurance only covered us outside the US.
Our city also emptied out, though to be honest, we relished having all of Boston to ourselves.
Since we had no Airbnb guests, we moved back into our apartment. We worked on getting US health insurance, went for long walks, and watched our ghost town bloom into a veritable garden – magnolias in April and tulips galore by May. I’m embarrassed to say in all my years living here, I’d never noticed before.
I filed a small claims case against my tenant, which I later won. Thankfully she left at the end of her lease and we found new, better tenants.
Aaron contacted the Department of Transportation and EU authorities about the airlines that were withholding refunds, which got us our money back instead of vouchers.
To our surprise, Airbnb bookings started to return, from young professionals suddenly at liberty to work from anywhere to people needing to quarantine before visiting family.
I also got my mom two free flights from JetBlue in a giveaway for healthcare professionals, and we spent lots of time with family, making up for the last few years when we were constantly on the road.
By September, we’d started taking a few trips again, but only within the US. We went to Maine, Chicago, and NYC. We picked wild blueberries on a mountaintop in Maine, ate delicious Italian food in Chicago, went to museums, and walked through Central Park without another soul around. For the winter, we’re heading to Florida to help our parents furnish a new seasonal rental.
To think we would have been in Uzbekistan this time of year if nothing had happened – things change in the blink of an eye.