March 4th, 2020, a date that will live in infamy. This was the date that my mega corporation told us that all employee to head home with their laptops, and they would be working from home for the next two weeks. Here in Seattle, we had just had the country’s first COVID related death. Some of my coworkers had relatives staying in town from China, and they were concerned that they might coming down with the virus. They ended up testing negative for COVID, but it did cause a tense couple of days.
Two weeks working from home eventually extended into the next month, then until further notice, and now there is no longer an expectation that we will ever have to come into an office building again, as our department has been deemed as not necessary to have in the office. Our team has added new members from outside Seattle, who are not expected to move to Seattle unless they want to, and I now report to a director in Los Angeles. Additionally, the company has not renewed a huge chunk of their leased office space, so there is no longer room for everyone, even if they did want us to come back in.
Now there is a vaccine, though I won’t be eligible for another week or so. My wife is currently eligible and has now gotten her first shot. Because of her job, she was able eligible to get the shot before most of the rest of us. I will have to wait until they open up the vaccine to everyone sometime next week.
At this point, I have already been locked down for a year, so I’m not really feeling the urge to be the first person in line when I become eligible. Also, I figure once the masses do start getting vaccinated, the virus case numbers will hopefully decline. I am very much pro vaccine, but am still very much anti waiting in line, and very much avoiding of large crowds, so I’m thinking I may wait a couple of weeks before I try to sign myself up.
When COVID first hit in March, I took a pretty significant hit to my Portfolio. I began to question whether I would be able to pull of early retirement at all, or for that matter. The drop in the market did give me the chance to reshuffle some things with a minimal tax consequence, and made my first serious investments into cryptocurrency. I stuck with investing for the long haul. As last year progressed, I made up for those losses, and then some, to the extent that I actually had more in unrealized gains last year than I made in actual work related income. A rather big accomplishment if I plan to retire early and live off of portfolio income. Whether I can keep those gains going forward is another matter entirely.
For the past year, our travel has pretty much consisted going from my home office downstairs, to the living room, to the bedroom. All within the confines of my four walls. We have mad a trip to Bellingham, about an hour north of Seattle, as well as to Port Angeles, over on the Olympic Peninsula. In the coming weeks, we plan to go to Snoqualme Falls, a National Park area just outside Seattle. This has been the extent of our travel while we await our vaccinations.
Now that we can talk about opening up again, I can also begin to think of travel again, beyond the Seattle area and Google Street View. My wife has talked about going to Italy for her birthday in November, and we’re starting to think about timeframes for that. Not that anything is assured at this point, who knows particularly how the reopening is going to go in Europe. Also, will Europe take us and our American vaccine passports? Will they accept the Moderna vaccine, if the only one they have approved for their own use is the one from Astra Zeneca?
Before COVID, I had considered possibly going on an around the world trip for my six week sabbatical, which has been postponed. I’m now thinking that plan might not be feasible, and I may instead just travel to one location. I may just go to Portugal and spend the six weeks scoping out possible locations for my eventual early retirement relocation.
Back to Work
It now appears I may never see the inside of an office again, at least as long as I stay at my current mega corporation. So, future collaborations will have to be via Zoom – Blue Jeans meetings. My future coworkers I will probably never meet in person. For now on, when I have a question for one of my teammates, it will have to be done via Slack or email, rather than just walking over to their desk. My commute for now on will consist of just going to the spare bedroom downstairs.
Earning my income from home is the foreseeable future for me, whether it be via my 9 to 5 job, or the little bit of trading I manage to squeeze in before my commute to work downstairs at 9am. Being socially awkward, I always thought I would do better working on my own. Now that I have been doing this for a year, I am not convinced that is the case, as I crave social interaction, as awkward as I am at it.