The best-laid plans…

Today is a big day. Big day! Our second grandson will be born today in about three hours. I won’t post this until I hear good news…don’t want to tempt fate. It’s a strange, strange time for Emily to be bringing a new child into the world. New risks, unknown risks and generally a lot more to worry about. But “who knew” nine months ago?

Update #1, two hours later. I find that in this period of waiting to hear the news I’m manic. Can’t sit still, can’t focus on reading or anything else. Just doing shit to get through the moments. Not surprising, I guess.

Update #2, a few hours on, Jessamine Memphis Monsma is born, healthy and big! 9.5 pounds. Everybody’s healthy. Photo above from Malta is in JMM’s honor.

Aside from the big day news, today also is the day I’ve come to grips with the idea that my plan for the future is in trouble. For years I’ve been making plans to have a bimodal life, going back and forth from CA to KY at will via Southwest airlines. I figured I could have a life in CA plus be in KY enough to stay close to the family there, particularly the grandsons. I’ve bought property in Louisville, placed all my credit card and travel leverage on SW and generally become an expert at that commute. And now COVID has made that plan untenable for at least 2020 and maybe beyond.

I see no way to get comfortable flying again until (a) it’s proven that I’ve already had the virus and/or (b) there’s an effective vaccine or therapy. That’s just not likely in 2020 and is 50-50 for 2021 – except for the “getting COVID and surviving” option, which I can’t really calculate the odds of.

So…if I want to see the new grandson this year, I’m going to have to drive cross country, at least one round trip and likely more. It’s doable, but it’s a big mental shift. It’s been maybe 35 years since I’ve done a 2000+ mile road trip one way. I’ll need to rent an RV to travel without hotel rooms and exercise extreme COVID hygiene whenever I stop.

Longer term, let’s say mid-2021, the chance of being able to fly again increases, but the cost may be quite high. I can probably deal with that, though there’s also a chance that SW would stop flying to Louisville entirely as their fleet and routes decrease. In that case getting to Louisville becomes more complicated, a longer trip and more expensive. Not a great scenario.

Also, I realized yesterday that COVID is now threatening the investments I’ve made in Louisville rental property. Most of the property I have there is in the Highlands area, known for its great bar/restaurant scene. But what if most of those hot-spot bars and restaurants close down? Current estimates are that at least one-third of Louisville restaurants will be lost to bankruptcy or insolvency, and if it’s worse than that the area could become blighted. Those properties won’t be as attractive and rents / values will decline. Also a very poor scenario.

Finally, I assumed (calculated, actually, in excruciating detail) that the money I had saved and invested would be sufficient to support this bimodal lifestyle for the rest of my life. That still looks possible, but with COVID destroying small businesses in America and doing who-knows-what to the economy, cost of living and rates of return in the long term…anything can happen.

The gist of all this is that my long term life plans have been severely disrupted by COVID. (I know, I know, get in line with millions of others.) It’s not just a 2020 shelter-in-place inconvenience, it’s a set of changes that will affect us for most or all of the rest of my days. That’s a hard thing to come to terms with. But I’m working on it.

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