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Quarantine may be the opportune time to take stock

(EDITORIAL) COVID-19 quarantine has allowed people the time to look at their possessions and hobbies, and think about how their life is really going.

possessions and hobbies

I have never considered myself a minimalist. The term brings to mind nest-haired hippies who eat the same thing for breakfast every day, own one pair of jeans for all occasions, and shower infrequently to save water.

But I recently moved from Boston to Austin. I had three months to whittle down my possessions into a conceivably affordable amount of junk to ship or drive across the country. Several big ones ($$) and a 17-day road trip later, I arrived in my new home and unpacked. As I did, I found even more things to discard. For the most part, I felt confident in my decisions of which things to keep, delighting in their existence as I tacked my most prized possessions onto my refrigerator: souvenir bottle openers from 19 countries and I don’t know how many states and cities.

Fast forward six months and we are in a pandemic-induced recession. I commute only to my beertending job and back home. My shelf space in my pantry and fridge are becoming increasingly visible as I am avoiding the grocery store as long as possible. The initial panic and pain and fear that my new living situation has introduced has mostly subsided (mostly…sort of). I have accepted the fact that for a while, I will not traveling for any concerts, weddings, family gatherings, baby showers, weekends with my long-distance sweetheart, friend reunions, college reunions, birthdays, or holidays. I will not collect any more bottle openers.

So my focus turns inward. I use my bottle openers to open more bottles of beer drank at home than at the bar. I actually look at the books on my bookshelf, and consider reading them now that I can’t access the library. I rearranged the furniture in my bedroom, which as a result is much more functional and enjoyable to be in.

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I have not learned a new language. I have not taken up knitting or sewing masks. I have considered and even discussed, but not yet endeavored to make a sourdough starter.

But I have taken stock. I have continued to find possessions I have no use for, neither for now in this dystopian movie I live in nor for the future prosperity I expect we will return to at some distant point in the future. I have affirmed what were already my priorities were the right ones: having the people I love consistently in my life even if now I cannot see them, and even if I cannot protect them from this virus except by staying put, and enjoying the company of my bottle openers and books.

Heather Buffo is a Cleveland native, a recovering Bostonian, and an Austin newbie. Heather is the Venture Growth & Partnerships Lead at Republic where she works with partners in private investing to democratize access to capital for entrepreneurs. Heather studied neurobiology at Harvard University, and is a City Year Boston AmeriCorps alum. She likes to write for AG, drink Austin beer, and ride around town on her road bicycle. His name is Pippin. Say hello if you see them.



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