One year ago today, in what felt at the time like an overabundance of caution rather than the only sane thing to do, my company shut down the office and the entire company moved to working from home. As a tech company this wasn't the most difficult transition - all you really need to do your job is your laptop and a reliable internet connection - but what was supposed to be a temporary situation dragged on, the "Return to Office" date kept getting pushed back, and eventually, after a few months, it was announced that we were probably never going to return to a 100% in-office environment again, so we may as well get used to working from home.
I bought a bigger desk, and a nicer chair to sit in. Our list of needs for a new apartment suddenly now included a whole extra space that could be used for a home office - as if space isn't hard enough to come by in Vancouver. People seem to be moving out of downtown in droves; we keep being told that this is a renter's market and that average rent prices have gone down (they've gone down year over year, even pre-pandemic, evidently) but it still feels expensive as hell to live here.
My partner and I had hoped that being able to find a bigger, better apartment would be one of the silver linings of this whole thing, but so far we haven't had any luck in that regard (we have been unbelievably lucky in pretty much everything else, which I must try to remember). And don't get me started on exiting the rental market entirely to try and become a homeowner; Vancouver isn't designed for people who aren't already millionnaires to do that.
Despite the pandemic, we were also able to do a bit of traveling in 2020; we took a road trip through some of the most beautiful non-arctic scenery Canada has to offer and visited my parents during the summer.
There were few restrictions at that point, and only certain business were requiring a mask, but everyone in public was socially distancing and we even felt safe enough to go to the zoo. I don't know that I would be comfortable doing something so people-y today, but at the time it seemed the best way to do something outdoors without taking too much of a risk.
We ended the trip by picking up a new four-legged family member: a year and a half old golden lab who was much bigger than we had originally planned for. He's since put on a few more pounds, and has made himself quite at home. We didn't get a dog because of the pandemic; I had started talking about it long before anyone had even heard of the virus, however there's no denying that the decision was motivated at least in part by the new times we live in.
Seven months later, and I couldn't imagine life without Zeus. Though now we need a bigger apartment even more.
Being cooped up at home has also had an interesting effect on my creativity; I have felt both stifled and inspired, and have struggled with long periods of not really feeling that there is any point to creating something. I've been able to explore new mediums, however, which has been great fun. I've been drawing, and painting. Painting! I always thought I sort of hated painting, but it turns out I just wasn't a fan of watercolor. I tried gouache instead, and it's what I wanted watercolor to be all along. I love painting now! And cooking - I've tried cooking and baking so many new things this year, and some of those even turned out successfully! It doesn't seem like following a recipe ought to feel like a form of creative expression, but there's something about working with your hands to turn a pile of ingredients into something beautiful that is just so satisfying. I delight in food, and I'm delighted with how much I've gotten to explore it this year.
So many have lost so much these last twelve months, but I have been lucky beyond measure that my friends and family have all kept their health. I am grateful for my job and my partner and our little family. We've done okay this last year, and I want to remember that.