Sunday, August 9, 2020

Celebrating an Anniversary Mid-Pandemic

Happy anniversary to us! We weren't able to do the things we originally planned to commemorate this year's milestone anniversary, but we went out of our way to make it special while still respecting public health guidelines during a pandemic. When we knew we wouldn't be at our next post and wouldn't be able to travel for our anniversary, we looked around for other options to get away from our claustrophic, one-bedroom apartment by the city. We were thrilled to find this delightful private yurt nestled in a small town by the Blue Ridge Mountains on Airbnb. The best part was that it was part of a category of Airbnb rentals with "Enhanced Clean", meaning the host "committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts". Our hosts were wonderful, responsive, and went above and beyond to prevent the spread of COVID-19: from sanitizing the doorknobs to letting us check ourselves in with a key instead of interacting with other people.

We took the weekend away to enjoy nature and the beautiful outdoor spaces our home state of Virginia has to offer. We saw a bunch of wildlife, including multiple families of deer, black bears (a momma and her cub), and this adorable wild rabbit (pictured below). During the day, we went for walks and enjoyed beautiful plants and not-quite-ripe blackberry bushes. At night, we watched fireflies light up the grassy fields as the sunset turned to dusk. It was beautiful and reminded me of some of the things I love and miss most of our home when we're away.

For a few meals, we ate outside at a few restaurants with socially distanced tables and mask requirements. It definitely felt different than dining out did before the pandemic, but it was a special treat after months away from restaurants. We had everything from German fare to American breakfast food to Peruvian delicacies to very unusual and exciting artisanal chocolate. (I couldn't help myself and bought some cocoa nibs herbal tea, halwa chocolate from Dubai, and pistachio/fig dark chocolate. I also tried shrimp and bonito chocolate for the first time, which isn't nearly as off-putting as one might expect.)

Lastly, we sought out online experiences we could safely from our yurt to help make the weekend more special. We did an intro to Argentinian tango class run by an expert in Buenos Aires who taught us not only the moves but also the culture of tango. We booked a session with a composer in Singapore to improvise custom music for stories we shared about our life together (the first photo of this post). We even danced again to our first dance song at our own wedding. The best thing about all of these moments was that they allowed us to create that special feeling of celebration and commemoration even if we couldn't go to the places hosting those events.

But all things must come to an end, and so has our weekend away from it all. As disappointing as it was for us (like so many others) to forgo their plans this year, we have been able to reaffirm our appreciation for those things we miss and create happy new memories anyway. And, thankfully, we get to keep doing it all together.

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