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No Sleep Since Brooklyn

In September, my daughter was born. Within a week of bringing her home to her big brother, it was clear that our one bedroom in Brooklyn was not going to be enough for this family of four. With a heavy heart, we uprooted our lives and packed up our 700 sq ft abode and moved to Washington, DC, funded by a new, wonderful job and the high hopes of a new adventure.

I started my job on January 10. I was in awe of a world where you could leave work at 5 to be with your family, or leave at 3 to coach soccer, or not come in at all. I had started working for a FinTech company in Virginia and was in awe of the culture that was so contradictory to everything I had learned about having a career

in New York City. I was in love and felt that I had

finally found my home.

Within six weeks of starting my new job, my office closed. The hushed whispers of change and uncertainty echoed through the open floor plan. We were not losing our jobs, we were working remotely indefinitely and in fact, business was quite good! But we were losing our community. I closed my laptop, threw it in my bag and was certain that this was only going to be a week or two.

A week passed and our daycare closed. We picked up our kids for the last time and moved south into a family home in rural Maryland. We relinquished our apartment in the city in hopes of saving money, and sanity. In Maryland, our son could run in the fields and greet the cows, he could play “tools” with Papa, or make muffins with his cousin. We realized what we thought might be a few weeks was quickly becoming months.

Being around family can be absolutely wonderful, but as so many can attest, it can also be burdensome. In this house we had ten people: my family of four, my parents, my brother and his family, my uncle and occasionally, Grandma Patty - my grandmother. Even in a six thousand square foot home, to be surrounded constantly by other people, constantly parenting with an audience, it became a strain on every relationship. My relationship with my husband, my brother, my parents. It was obvious that we had to make a change. I became constantly anxious, nervous, full of the darkest thoughts. I found myself short of breath for no reason, my heart pounding, my hands shaking. Something had to change.

Then came New London.

I had grown up in New London, summers at Ocean Beach and working in my mother’s coffee shop on Bank Street. I found myself daydreaming on Zillow, imagining a life where I could watch the sunrise from the beach every morning, with my coffee in hand and my son running on the beach while I pushed my daughter in the stroller. The poor childhood friend who had become a realtor was constantly bombarded with my ideas of buying, then renting, then buying, then renting. Then a very special house came on the rental market, one just a few houses away from my childhood home.

With bated breath, I applied for the house, sight unseen, jumping in full force. I knew the exterior well enough to know what could be inside and how happy my family could be there. Within a couple weeks, we signed the lease. The next six weeks were the longest of my life. Beautiful end-of-summer days seemed to drone on as I waited and waited until our move-in day. Then finally, in mid September, the day arrived. I packed my children into the car for the six hour journey north, passing my once beloved New York City, and pushed onward.

We drove through downtown, past the whale mural, my heart pounding. We drove down Pequot, where I used to ride my bike with reckless abandon. We passed Fred’s Shanty and it was almost like seeing myself there with a cheesedog and a root beer float, unchanged by my twenty year absence. We continued on, approaching Guthrie Beach - the raft already packed up for the season but my heart fluttered with the hope of more warm days. We finally made it to Neptune Beach. We had made it. I had survived it this far.

Six and a half months of utter uncertainty and I have found myself here. I am still unsure of what’s to come, what will happen in May when my lease is up and my family has to take another step forward, but for now, I wake up, I drink my coffee on the beach, my son runs in the sand (and often in the water) in his pajamas, my daughter has learned the word for bird as she points at the seagulls who say good morning to us, and I am able to breathe.

Submitted by Dana Corl Kasarda on Oct 26, 2020

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