Life in COVID Times
In short, I’ve been loving it. I had a 1.5 hour commute before COVID. I love not having to wake up by a certain time (7:45AM) in order to make my train, and run to the train station to make sure catch it, and getting to spend a bit more time with my wife. If I need to take a nap in the day, I can do that, and I can take a walk downstairs to the kitchen to get something healthy if I’m hungry.
I used to loathe working from home before, because I would just sit on the couch and mostly do personal items and find it hard to focus. Now that I have created a dedicated environment with a desk and a monitor and an external keyboard, I can get much more done than I would have on my laptop on the couch. I also create a routine where I wear my same work clothes and shower before my first meeting.
I’m also a little less intimidated to participate in meeting. It’s just a group of people on a screen, and somehow it feels a little less daunting. On the flip side, when I’m in meetings which I don’t always feel like I need to be in, I can multi-task without being disrupted! (although the better idea might be just to excuse myself).
I used to eat out every day, and now I’m able to cook for myself. Let’s be clear, I’m not a master chef. I end up cooking two meals that last me for 5 days, so it is repetitive, but it works. It’s a start and it saves me a lot of money.
Some of the highlights of COVID have been my wife cutting my hair twice and doing a great job. We’ve set up a daily family Zoom call at 7:30PM to say prayers. I’ve also set up monthly Zoom calls with both sides of my family to connect, usually around birthdays. By introducing these new forums to interact I am connecting much more frequently with my extended family than I would have otherwise. It still takes more to cultivate.
I admit this COVID climate has allowed me to indulge in my natural state of being a little bit of a homebody, but I am going to indulge while I have the chance. I know not everyone has had such a great outcome from COVID – there have been job shortages, illnesses, loneliness. I know a lot of issues around race and class have also arisen during this time, so this is only one perspective of many.
Buying a House
In May, we bought a house in Richmond Hill, Ontario, which was about 30 minutes of Toronto. The cool thing about the house is that it’s now a canvas to “create,” and I find creating to be so much fun. You can make it your own — Zahra does a lot of the aesthetic and design decisions, for me that’s meant adding new gadgets – keypad locks, a smart doorbell, a home security system, wifi upgrades.
We had been searching for a house on and off for about a year. We found a rectangular area that had good schools, was a nice neighborhood, close to Zahra’s work, and near the highway, and we had set up daily alerts for new listings.
We stopped when COVID hit, as there was a lot of uncertainty about doing showings and we didn’t want to buy a house based on pictures alone. We started looking again around May when things started opening back up. We were expecting to go for a semi-detached house, but were able to find a house in our price range that was detached (standalone).
When the listing for this house came up, we had nearly put in an offer on another place the week before, but the seller wanted more. So we knew what fair prices were for the market, and how to act quickly. The morning the alert came, up, I was working from home (as usual), and Zahra happened to be off . We saw the house in the afternoon, made an offer around midnight (to try to get ahead of other bids), received a counter offer around 9AM, and accepted around noon. Talk about a fast process! My dad summed it up as “you don’t find the house, the house finds you.” I think I found that little bit hocus pocus, but I will admit looking back, there were a lot of things that fell our way.
After our offer was accepted, I played through many scenario in my head – did we pay too much, what if we hadn’t rushed, could we have bid lower and then seen the response? I studied the market so closely the next few weeks to see if I made a mistake. I learned that you have no control over these things. We made the best decision with the information we had at the time.
In contrast to the quick offer process, the closing process took over 6 weeks to actually get the keys. As a first time buyer, very psyched about moving it, it feels like you’re on pause. We could visit once or twice, but that’s it! We wanted to do renovations before we moved in, but had to settle on some contractors that we were able to bring in during our one visit.
We painted the house, made some minor additions (gas stove and a glass range hood), and then renovated the master bathroom to add two sinks and a glass shower. The bathroom renovation was a great primer in this process. You literally have to pick everything – the floor tile, the shower tile, the paint colour, the vanity, the faucets – there are a lot of decisions to make! It forces you to see how many things are involved in making something, but it was a great learning experience. Some of our furniture is still on back order, but we’ll get there. I just bought a 65” TV, and am now trying to convince Zahra its not too big.
First Year Anniversary
Its been a year since I got married. Looking back, I do really feel happy with my life now that I get to spend it with Zahra. I tend to enjoy positive reinforcement, and I find with many other things (job), you have to continue to perform to stay in good graces. With a good relationship, it feels I have an instrinsic, continuously reinforced contentment that I don’t have to “perform” to maintain.
I notice my wife has a really good design sense, and on matters I’m proud of my accomplishments in (cooking, managing finances), she can actually outperform me in some ways. Sometimes this can exacerbates my own sensitivities about myself and the value I bring to the relationship. But I feel it’s a process, I remind myself to go easy on myself, and we are continuing to enjoy learning how to live with each other.
Zahra and I had planned our honeymoon to Germany, Switzerland and Italy in May, but as you can imagine, that got cancelled due to COVID. So for our anniversary we did a 5 day trip to Banff. This is us at Lake Louise. We had such a good time on that trip, it was so beautiful out there, I had no idea. We explored nature, ate good food, were a little bit active, and had a lot of fun. We splurged to stayed at the Fairmont one night and it was a great!
Unfortunately no travels for now, but looking forward to connecting virtually with you if you’d like!
Until next time – Take care,