LEE STABERT works for Artifact. She captured her pandemic quarantine experience with one of our interviewers.
In March of 2020, my husband, toddler, and I drove north to celebrate my mother-in-law's 60th birthday. She (and her husband) live in an area of Westchester County, NY, called Pound Ridge, known for its steep hills, stone walls, and historic homes. We packed our car on March 13, planning to stay for a long weekend. We ended up staying for almost six months.
I know we weren’t alone. Motivated by the escalating pandemic, people across the country were departing their homes for new domestic arrangements. For many, like us, they were in search of childcare help (we found out during our initial drive that our daughter’s preschool would be closing indefinitely) or simply a port in the storm.
Turns out we wouldn’t be the only ones camping out in Pound Ridge. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, their two kids (a girl just 10 weeks older than our almost-three-year-old and a 6-month-old son) abandoned their life in Brooklyn, while my sister-in-law left behind a Manhattan apartment and started teaching her middle school students from the comforts of her childhood bedroom. In total, it was 10 humans — and one aging Havanese — in a house.
It was a complex experience to say the least, full of sublime moments, intense anxiety, and togetherness galore. And it was one that I felt excited to preserve. In September, just a few weeks after we returned home to Philadelphia, I recorded an Artifact about our sojourn in Pound Ridge.
Listening to it now, a year after living it and seven months after preserving it, the podcast already feels like a time capsule — an incredible document of a remarkable time. I can feel the immediacy of our mostly successful attempt at communal living. I can glean what moments sparked frustration. And I can tell which experiences inspired a kind of instant nostalgia.
I am already excited for the day when my daughter, who turns four in a few short weeks, can listen with adult ears and appreciate her family’s specific pandemic trials and tribulations.
Lead image: My daughter picks wild wineberries with her cousin.