Stories from the Pandemic: Straight out of NYC and thrown into Virginia country life.

–By: Theresa Coates Ellis —

It was an escape from the pandemic — or an attempt. I’m sure we all have a story, or a friend or family with a story — but all in all, we have been impacted by this public health crisis.

Back in March, I happened to be in Florida with my daughters Alli (and her sidekick pup, Trinity), and Laura to see my sister Trisha’s new business and to say goodbye to my daughter Kat, a Florida Atlantic University PhD Biology student, who was preparing to go to Jane Goodell’s camp in East Africa to study monkeys for months.

Then the unthinkable happened. Disney shut down. What? Uh oh. Things just got real serious. We looked around Miami Beach. It was packed. Wall to wall people. And then there was a shooting. There was an unrest in the crowd. Time to get out of Florida.

Kat’s trip to East Africa was put on hold. Borders shut down.

Shay was Alli’s friend. She was from Dallas getting her PhD from Brown University, New York. She had flown down to Florida to meet us for some Spring Break sunshine. Cut short, she and Alli had to quickly fly back to NYC with Trinity.

Laura grabbed a flight and took off to DC. It was a race to get out and beat the pandemic. We had no idea what we were up against. People were getting anxious.

I had a vehicle. Easy. Safe. And a long drive. Alli and Shay could drive with me or figure out the navigation to get a dog to NYC quickly. They took a chance. They arrived at the airport and begged to get onboard with a dog hard to resist. And made the flight.

A long time later, I arrived in Manassas, Va. — home — just in time to attend a City Council meeting to establish how to meet as a governing body. In person had become a bad idea.

Back in NYC. Shay and Allison were going stir-crazy. Confined in a NYC small apartment with Shay’s hairless cat and Alli’s dog was getting old.

So they set out to rent something somewhere else. And then Airbnb shut down.

Thank goodness they could find and rent a car. A fellow Mason alum of Alli’s connected with her and he graciously opened a vacant farm house for them and they went to Berryville, Virginia. Someplace not to far away from family, but far enough to quarantine for a period of time.

After a few weeks, I had to check out this place and see where they had been hunkered down.

At that time, driving one hour west was a pleasure with no traffic.

Once quarantine was over for them, we explored the area. Alli and Shay have work and stayed busy and even shot my photos for my Mayor campaign. Alli’s Mason friend had many projects for them in Berryville too.

But the best visits were when they came to Manassas. When Phase 3 opened, we painted pottery, ate at restaurants, helped plan The Safe Haven Project and my Mayor kick-off.

Now it is mid-July. My how these times have changed.

Shay celebrates a 30 year birthday far, far, away from family in Texas.

Alli has settled into a country life dealing with the unfortunate spotty cell and poor internet.

And they both drive a pick-up truck, fetch their fire wood, and can cook and bake up a storm. Back in NYC, I am not sure Alli ever touched her stove.

They have had a lot of NYC visitors in the last few months.

Who knows how long these two city girls will stay in the country life of Virginia because NYC is still not back to normal. One day at a time.

But how will they ever return the now wild and free Trinity back to a NYC apartment.