I have always been a history buff. As a child, I loved reading about the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and biographies of famous people. As a middle and high school student, my love for American History grew. I would always ponder, where would I have been during stressful moments in history? Would I have been a nurse during World War I? Would I have had enough to eat during the Great Depression? Would I have been on the front lines advocating for women to vote? Suddenly, now, here I am at a historic moment in time, one that will define us and generations to come.
I have experienced a lot of significant moments in my (almost) 65 years. When I was four, I remember my parents arguing about the election (my mother for Kennedy and my father for Nixon). Since we always sided with our mother, our childhood chant was, ”Kennedy in the White House and Nixon in the trash can.” Next came President Kennedy’s assassination. We were in class and suddenly we were being shepherded into church by my crying teacher, Sister Evangeline. I never had seen a nun crying before. When we came home from school, the TV was on and we watched the sad tragedy unfold.
The TV became the center of our world as we watched the moon landing and the Wonderful World of Disney on my uncle’s very special color TV. And then later, we watched more assassinations, the riots, the demonstrations, and a war within our own country over the Vietnam War.
In the seventies, a devastating flood from Hurricane Agnes wiped out large swaths of my hometown area of Central Pennsylvania. We were the lucky ones that lived on a hill above the swollen and threatening Susquehanna River. In the early eighties, my hometown faced another unknown threat, a nuclear incident at Three Mile Island. For weeks, no one knew the extent of damage to the reactor or if anyone had been exposed to radiation.
The eighties were good times for everyone until the bubble broke in 1989. My husband and I owned a small business in Old Town during the eighties where we made — and spent — a lot of money. We weren’t prepared for a downturn. We kept thinking the economy would turn a corner quickly and it didn’t. Marty and I jumped into real estate for what we thought would be part-time work. In two years, we felt comfortable enough to close our shop and go into real estate full-time. But the market was still tough and really didn’t blossom until 1998. Given our experience in the eighties, we vowed that if we ever “made money” again, we would save it and we did. In the nineties, we learned the business, which along with our commitment to the best interests of our clients, allowed us to succeed.
Just as the real estate market was turning a corner, 9/11 happened and brought the world to a standstill. I remember thinking during that September and October that no one would ever buy or sell real estate again. But they did and the early 2000’s real estate market was fed by all the wrong things. It swelled to heights not seen before. By 2008, we had all been living on a false pre-tense as funny money inflated, then deflated, the market. Foreclosures, job losses, and tough times defined the moment. Slowly, we built up again. Next was the Amazon announcement and the speculation began. An already tight real estate market got tighter. Investors jumped in and first-time buyers rushed to get their feet in the door of homeownership.
There had been talk of a recession in the next year or so but no one predicted a pandemic in their economic planning. And here we are in a moment in history. There have been ups and downs through my 65 years, but this time presents a unique challenge. What I have learned from my experiences with the ups and downs of history is that it will be harsh. It will be much worse for some than for others. And yet it will end and morph into a new reality. I heard someone say that this time will be much like World War II. There will be death and sacrifice. There will be heroes asked to do so much more than the rest of us. It will not be like anything we have seen before.
How will history define us in this moment? Will we become the people that hold up the heroes and support them with our sacrifices? Will we the people pulling up those hit by loss of a friend or family member or by economic disaster? Where will you and I be?
I am still trying to define those answers. For now, I know that I will continue to help people who need to buy or sell a home because we all need shelter. Some people will be forced to sell in this new economic reality. Babies will continue to be born (is that one of the most wonderful things about any time in history) and cause their parents to find bigger homes. Unfortunately, we will also see more divorce. All of these things will continue to keep me busy.
But how will I be seen in this time in history by my children and grandchildren? What will be my legacy? I am working on these answers as we see how this pandemic and its economic impacts unfold. I have started by taking great care of myself. How can you make a difference if you’re not taking care of yourself? My face mask is on!
We are working on ways to give to our local community. Will you join me? Let’s work together to see all of us through this war. What ideas do you have? What do you see that makes your heartbreak? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 703.362.3221 or you can write me a letter (106 N. Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314). Let’s see what we can do together.