- The Unemployed States of America takes readers deep inside the decimated American workforce.
- Becca DeMeyer is a 25-year-old yoga teacher based in Billings, Montana.
- She was living in the Bahamas on a work exchange yoga program when COVID-19 began and evacuated back home to Montana in March.
- She’s been keeping busy as a painter and assisting her neighbor as a caretaker, and hopes to start teaching yoga again, either in small group settings outside or online.
- This is her story, as told to Molly O’Brien.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Last year, a dear friend told me about his time studying yoga at an ashram on an island in the Bahamas. As a certified yoga teacher myself, I was inspired to go, so after a few months of saving up, I left to live at the Sivananda Ashram for three months.
I was two months into my stay at the end of February when it seemed like more and more people’s countries and homes were being affected by COVID-19.
The people I was living and working with were from all over the world, including Italy, Spain, Colombia, and Canada. Toward the middle of March, the virus was becoming a serious concern for everyone. I vividly remember the day the US issued a health code four advisory, stating the borders would soon be closing.
The next day, the ashram asked everyone to leave, so with a fair amount of stress, we began searching for the soonest flights home. My flight home was canceled and rebooked three times in two days. Once I was finally back in Montana, I went to my partner’s cabin, where I quarantined for two weeks alone before he came and joined me.
For the next three months, my partner and I stayed at the cabin.
It felt strange to go from a tropical island surrounded by people to a cabin deep in the forest of Montana, but compared to people whose lives were on hold or businesses closed, I felt fortunate to be staying safe and grateful to have time on my hands for personal projects.
I painted a few commission works, learned to build my own canvases, and even learned a song or two on the guitar.
In early July, I decided to move back down to my hometown of Billings. At the same time, the next-door neighbor at my childhood home offered me the opportunity to start working part time as her caretaker, as she is 87 years old and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve been helping keep her company and tending to some of the household tasks.
Between my income from painting and assisting my neighbor, along with my partner Ty receiving unemployment, we’re getting along fine. Before COVID-19, Ty was a full-time musician playing in five local bands. Once the government allowed self-employed people to collect unemployment, we felt very relieved — especially since it might be a while before music venues open up and he’s able to play in public…