Tell Your Story – California during the time of COVID-19

Tell Your Story - Leah, Vallejo
Derek and Leah, a selfie taken outside of their first purchased home in Vallejo, California in April of 2020.

Leah, Vallejo

“In August of 2019, my partner Derek and I began searching for our first home. We had finally emerged from the psychological and tangible effects of bearing witness to the 2008 housing crisis and the snail’s pace crawl of wealth accumulation (or debt unburdening) so particular to our generation. It was a joyous time. One evening after a packed day of open houses, we sat at the dinner table exploring in real talk our readiness for this next phase of our lives. Our discussion landed on recession, naturally, topped off with a dash of job insecurity. ‘What’s the worst-case scenario?’ I said. In January of 2020 we put an offer on a home in the Bay Area that would soon turn into contract…. But by then we were deep into a new reality, sheltering in place under the ever-darkening clouds of recession. Our worst-case scenario was coming true.”

“I’m a little bit afraid, every day, alone inside of our new fixer-upper. Derek works longer hours and more days than he ever did before, as I, alone, dodge boxes, fret over appliances that don’t function and jump at the sounds of this new place, neighborhood, shelter. It isn’t a shelter that I know or feel safe inside of yet. My reptilian brain wakes me in the night to assess the windows and shadows and I’ve recently discovered that the 100-year-old cork tree dancing over our gutter is just that, not metal fingers prying their way into our attic. Afraid inside, afraid outside. It’s a very different experience than what we predicted in August: The overjoyed toast, meeting the neighbors, painting the walls together in coveralls, those moments have all been eclipsed by this new reality.”

Leah, 38


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