MICHELLE’S STORY

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Michelle Fishburne never intended to be an author. Her book, “Who We Are Now: Stories of What Americans Lost and Found During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (UNC Press, March 2023), was the result of a strange turn of events during the 2020 COVID spring. 

Sometimes life turns you upside down, dumps you on the floor, and asks, “so what are you going to do about it?” That’s what happened to Michelle Fishburne in 2020. In January, she suddenly lost some of her hearing and most of her balance. During the COVID-19 spring, she lost her job as the national director of public relations and partnerships for an organization she loved. In June, her youngest graduated from high school, making Michelle an official empty-nester. At the end of July, the lease on her house ended. Michelle moved all her stuff to storage because she did not know where she would work next, so buying or renting a house didn’t make any sense. 

No home, no job, no kids underfoot. That’s what she didn’t have.

An RV, a camera, curiosity, and years of storytelling experience. That’s what she did have.​ 

Michelle and her kids had traveled the United States and Canada in an RV for over a year when the kids were in elementary school. Planning an itinerary and heading west on the open road was familiar to her.

Michelle and her kids had traveled the United States and Canada in an RV for over a year when the kids were in elementary school. Planning an itinerary and heading west on the open road was familiar to her.

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Her 2020 experience of loss enabled her to better understand how others might be feeling during this time. Kind of unusual for a person who used to be an international attorney, flying first class all over the world. Fortunately, though, life is not a straight path. The curves give us perspective.​

 

And thus, Who We Are Now was born, a collection of 1st-person stories from Americans of all walks of life, across the country. Ready to open that 2020 time capsule, when schools were closed, offices were closed, and life was as it had never been before? Pre-order Who We Are Now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org.

Want to follow Michelle’s life as a full-time nomad, living and working from her RV, Airbnbs, and housesitting gigs? Follow her on Instagram @michellefishburne and/or on TikTok @michelle.fishburne (note the . between michelle and fishburne on her TikTok handle).

“Michelle Fishburne has assembled a diverse array of voices from around the nation that add up to a compelling snapshot of America during a time of crisis and uncertainty…Together these voices point a way forward, out of the darkness toward the light.”

Kern Konwiser, Emmy Award winning filmmaker