Love in the Time of Chaos, by JEN
My husband and I are what most people would call "late bloomers". We have made mistakes - a LOT of them. In hindsight, which is ironically 20/20, many of our mistakes turned out to be happy, and so I feel little regret for having made them. That being said, we two spent the majority of our 20s and 30s bumbling through life and crashing into people, places and circumstances that did not serve us. In 2015, we crashed into each other, working at a restaurant in NY. We fell in love at once and were married within 6 months. Most people we knew believed we were rebounding from past traumatic relationships. In reality, we had found in each other what both of us had always been searching for; unconditional love. Instead of taking it slow, we held on tight for dear life. We had wasted so much time, we couldn't fathom wasting anymore. Over the past 5 years we have picked up each other's broken pieces and stitched together a life that we could call our own.
I had come to him with a daughter, and soon after our marriage, we had a son. We were an instant family. Just add water and watch us grow! We learned how to do the grown up tasks that we had both avoided for so long. My husband worked overtime time to support us. I ran our household - paid the bills, made the doctors appointments, talked to teachers. We thrived. We grew. Last year, we realized that we were outgrowing our sweet little apartment and decided to find a bigger living space. We discussed finding a house in NY, but the cost of living was so high and the winters were starting to become a drag. We had both lived in California before and agreed that neither of us were finished with the west coast. Through some sort of magic we found ourselves the perfect house. I was able to walk right back into a job at the restaurant chain where I had worked years ago. My husband became a manager at a different location. 6 months after our big move, we were settled. We had our "nut" covered, we had health insurance, we had a budget. We had jobs. Our kids were both in great schools and thriving. We made new friends and reconnected with old ones. We had a babysitter and even went on dates every once in a while! Our lives had become real. We worked hard, and we saw the fruits of our labor in the happiness and growth of our children. I turned 40 on March 5th 2020. We sat in our backyard with a bottle of wine and congratulated ourselves on having it all figured out.
"How great is it, that despite all our mistakes, we have always had the skills to work in restaurants?" I said to Steven. We had both "lived the dream" as starving artists most of our lives and yet always managed to make a good living in food service. I was feeling incredibly proud of our cleverness and continued to pat our proverbial backs. "...because people will ALWAYS want to go to restaurants. When will that EVER NOT be a thing?"
"Challenge accepted!" Fate replied.
Two weeks later we were both laid off, our company had filed chapter 11. The kid's were home from school indefinitely. The whole family was quarantined. I got sick. Testing was hard to come by in those days, but based on my symptoms I was presumed positive with Covid 19. Sometime during my illness I woke up after a feverish night with a voice in my head. "Everything has to change." it said. I knew that the voice was right. After I recovered, Steven and I did our best to keep an upbeat attitude...but the truth was, we were panicking. We had no jobs, we had no income, we had no plan. We continued on day by day and hoped for the best. One afternoon, Steven and I sat on the porch fretting as the children played in the yard. I was close to tears. It was a beautiful LA spring day but I could not enjoy it. My worries were interrupted when my daughter ran up to me. "Mom!" she said. "We have the most perfect house. It's the house I always wished we could live in and now we do!"
To quote Oprah, that was my "aha moment". No matter what was happening out in the world, our home was everything to us. And right now, our house was the whole world to our children. I vowed that day to do everything I could to keep us in our house and to make our house a home...and in to do that we had to make our house a homestead.
We started a garden and began to grow our own food, next year we will get chickens! We cleaned out our over crowded garage. We gave away items that we had been holding onto for far too long. We started fresh, from the ground up, learning as we went. We made some more mistakes. We focused in and kept going. And thus, LA Homestead was born. Everything we do now, we do with love and faith...for the future of our children and our children’s children...and we do it from our little garage in LA.