California to New York: Moving in the middle of a pandemic

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If having to move away from your friends and a life you’ve built isn’t bad enough, imagine having to do it during a pandemic. 

You’d think a family would hold off on moving until things settle down, but nope, not us!

At the beginning of this year, I knew I was going to move to New York this summer because of my dad’s work. Then COVID hit, and I thought I might not have to move and start a new life again just yet. 

This isn’t the first time I have moved; I’ve moved from Egypt to Dubai and then to California. However, this is the first time I had a reason to want to stay: the people that I have come to consider my second family.

By the time we started the moving process, the second wave of the pandemic had hit, and cases in California were going through the roof, so we had to work fast. Everyone was stressed, and in an Arab household, that’s never good. We couldn’t stand each other, let alone all be in the same room.

We finally agreed on a day to leave and booked the flight. We started searching for moving companies that had good reviews and pricings and safety guidelines for how they work during COVID.

That was just the beginning.

It took us a week before the moving company came to clean the house and to figure out what we did and didn’t want to take with us. When the moving company came, it took one full, very tiring day to pack everything in the truck, including my bed. (I had to sleep on the floor for a week until we traveled, which was, in fact, uncomfortable, if you were wondering.)

After we were done with the moving company, we had to start packing our luggage. You’d think that would be the easy part, but surprisingly it wasn’t. The suitcases could only weigh a certain amount, so we had to decide which clothes, shoes and valuables were worth taking and which could be thrown away.

When the moving day came, our friends helped us clean out what was left of the house and took us to the airport to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus through public transport. 

Going through airport security and checking in bags was a struggle. There weren’t a lot of employees to help because of COVID, so we had to figure things out on our own. Other than that, we boarded the plane with caution, and it went relatively smoothly.

It wasn’t crowded like it usually would be. Everyone was required to wear masks the entire flight, middle seats were closed off to leave some space between passengers, snacks were provided in Ziploc bags and beverages and meals weren’t allowed to be served. When the plane landed, we were dismissed one row at a time so the aisle wouldn’t be crowded. 

The difference between moving during a pandemic and moving when there isn’t one is that during a pandemic, you’re on your own to figure things out, and an excessive amount of caution is taken.

Personally, the hardest part about this move was having to say goodbye to my second family. I know I won’t be able to see them again until the pandemic settles down in order to keep everyone safe, but the memories that we made together in the little time we had left is what I’ll be holding on to until my next visit (which hopefully will be soon). Those people who walked into my life are what made the past four years of memories, tears, laughter and good times in my life the hardest to say goodbye to.

Moving at a time like this was hard and stressful, but it taught me how to be dependent on myself and figure things out on my own.

Contact Mariam Guirgis at mariamhany3 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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Mariam is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop. She was also a part of the program in summer 2019.