Photo by April Barnes.

Tami Cannizzaro and Tom Hippman went from a 2,800-square-foot home to a 750-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment when quarantine began. 

The couple was waiting for construction to be completed on a dream home that Tom, an architect, designed himself. Tami continued working from home as a career coach, and Tom set up shop in the apartment after his company closed its offices. 

“I set up my computer, and I set up my two TV trays on the chair in front of the TV,” he says. 

“About 6 feet from me,” she replies. 

Tom’s setup eventually moved from the living room into the bedroom. 

As the uncertainty of the pandemic set in, the pair panicked about the home getting built on time. They had broken ground the previous December. 

“When you build a new house, there’s a construction loan that you have,” Tami says. “And if you don’t have your house built within a certain period of time for the construction loan, you have to pay off that loan in full if it’s not built.” 

The couple also started to worry about caring for Tami’s 91-year-old mother. Everyday caution followed Tami and Tom like a shadow, she says. 

“How do I take care of my mom, and care for her, and not only protect myself and Tom, but how do I protect my mom?” Tami says. 

Other changes around this time included a new hair color for Tami. 

“Suddenly it comes on, and you’re going ‘Oh, I guess I’m gonna be my natural gray,’” she says. 

The couple spent the next few months connecting with friends on Zoom, hosting parking lot visits and getting in the best shapes of their lives with at-home workouts and going to the gym when it reopened. 

Tami and Tom bonded over rummaging through belongings in preparation for the move. 

“In order to make this work, we Marie-Kondoed ourselves silly, selling or donating most of our furniture as well as mass quantities of other stuff,” Tami said in a personal blog post in April. 

By mid-September, the new house was ready, but with no one to show it off to. Tami and Tom could not host a typical party, which usually ranges from 80 to 115 attendees. 

“We really just can’t wait to be social again and have people over,” she says. 

It has been difficult for the self-proclaimed “social” couple not to see friends. Tami, who is writing a book, says her network helps spark imagination. 

“Creativity just dies in routine like this,” she says. 

Tami and Tom miss spontaneity of pre-COVID life: attending concerts, going on vacations and cheering at LHHS and Aggie football games. For now, they try to keep day-to-day life from becoming too monotonous. 

“If you don’t have hope, you don’t have anything,” Tami says. “And I think we have to have hope.”