Even before the Coronavirus, my sister Isabelle hardly left the house. She works as a public relations consultant and freelancer, and although she has lived in both Los Angeles and Manhattan, she now enjoys the peaceful pleasures of a town in New Mexico whose name she has asked me to omit.
“I’m just a little worried that people will read your article and start moving here,” she said, possibly only half-joking.
Q: How do you handle living in the boonies? You used to call me and talk about all the big social and cultural events that you went to, and you seemed so happy doing that!
A: The secret, I have discovered, of anyone who lives outside of the major coastal hubs, is that you have to travel with relative frequency. You can enjoy the lower cost of living of, say, a Nashville or a San Antonio, which are fine cities in their own right, yet still feel connected to the cutting edge scene in New York or California. Last year I flew to L.A. twice to see concerts because the bands didn’t pass through New Mexico. But the rest of the year I wake up out here and I feel calm and relaxed. I sit in my office in pajamas and read the morning’s emails so I can decide if I’ll have time to go for a lovely hike that day.
Q: So, other than the lack of travel, your life hasn’t changed too much lately.
A: Certainly not as others’ lives have changed. My heart breaks for all of the people in the big cities who are going through so much more. I still consider them my neighbors. Other than what I see on the news, I mostly see everything from the lense of what I hear when I talk to my clients.
Q: Would you say you have become a hippie?
A: A little! Living here makes it easy to support local artisans, but I still shower and I wear makeup and business attire when I have client video calls. I had a fantasy that I would drive a Type 2 when I moved here, but then I decided on a Tesla instead. Which might actually make me even more of a hippie. The electric car is probably better for the environment than a vintage Volks.
Q: What are your plans for when restrictions on travel are lifted?
A: Oh, you never know. I’d love a New York breakfast, something lifted right out of Calvin Trillin. If I find myself in Los Angeles again, I think I’m due for a little nip and tuck. I’ve been visiting the website of one Dr. Binder in Beverly Hills. Can’t you just see it, dear sister? And of course I’d love to come visit you for the holidays!
Q: How can I be more like you?
A: Don’t be silly, darling!
Q: Okay, let me rephrase that. How can I transition my life to having less of a requirement for leaving the house to go to work?
A: That’s a far better question! Okay, what I would do is try to figure out if your job allows you to work from home. (And, since I know that it does, I’m going to assume that you are asking on the behalf of your readership, not yourself.) If it does not–I mean, let’s say, for example, that you were a theater usher, which is not something you can do during a mass quarantine. If you absolutely loved being a theater usher, I would say keep doing it, but during your spare time, start to learn a skill that would be valuable no matter where your office was. I know it’s a difficult skill to master, but there are so many “learn to code” websites. If coding is not your thing, and I totally get that, learn a language so that you can become a translator. I suppose that kind of thing. But always be learning so that you can make the transition when you need to.
Q: But don’t become a public relations consultant?
A: (laughing) Yes, don’t study public relations! I don’t want any competition!