It’s a bit weird to start dating someone right before the world catches fire and everyone is on lockdown, quarantining with only their most immediate, closest loved ones. Him and I didn’t have anyone—just our dogs. And I guess we could’ve gone the other route—we could’ve just said, “Welp, this was fun for a couple weeks, huh? Maybe I’ll see you when this is all over!” We would’ve texted for a while and then faded away from each other, as many met-on-an-app flings often go. It was a step away or lean in kinda moment and we decided to lean in. Suddenly, someone who had only seen you naked twice is the only human on Earth who you’re allowed to see, touch, hug, kiss.
It’s a lot. And honestly, I’m surprised we haven’t killed each other yet.
He’s pretty content in quarantine. He’s enjoying working from home. He enjoys being home in general—playing video games, watching TV, napping, building model robots. All of his favorite things can be done in his living room. Clearly, we are complete opposites. The only favorite thing of mine that can be done in my living room is reading and writing, but my favorite place to do both of those things is outside, preferably next to a pool or ocean. I’m going certifiably crazy. On edge and pessimistic or desperately needy at all times. I can only sometimes get to sleep and I can only sometimes wake up when I’m supposed to. Waves of emotions constantly pull and tear at me, and the good ones like motivation and gratitude hardly every stick around long enough.
He said it really, really well the other night: “We’re kind of in this situation that forces you to find out all the worst things about me, really early on.” Super, super smart man (in this particular moment) for not saying WE’re finding out the worst things about each other. I quickly added though, “You’re definitely finding out the worst things about me, too.”
I need attention, y’all. And I don’t just mean from a romantic partner. I never realized how much I counted on human interaction—at work, seeing a hundred students a day, plus my coworkers, my friends, my family… Losing all of that has been rough on me.
And who gets to be there for me to unleash these swelling emotions upon? Yup, the one and only human I’m allowed to interact with. Poor guy. But you know what, I’m putting up with plenty from him as well…
I thought, for a long time, that La Rona basically mandated him and I be friends and nothing more. Ever. I mean, the whole situation is insane when you really stop to think about it. It’s not like we could go on dates with other people. We weren’t even seeing our friends or family. The one person I was entrusting to not give me an airborne virus was someone I had swiped right on a few weeks ago, mutually agreeing on the visual appealing nature of each other’s faces.
But how exactly do you stop yourself from catching feelings for someone you’re talking to or seeing every single day for four months in a row (and counting)? Clearly there was something there, for us to want to keep seeing that much of each other. Right? I doubted it, giving in to my true nature of distrust—we’re only getting this close because of COVID-19, I thought. We’re just comfortable with each other, that’s it. If there wasn’t a plague floating around, we would have been done with each other long ago. I told myself so many things. I would bottle it up and then freak out, telling him I didn’t want a real relationship only to, a few weeks later, chastise him for not wanting to lock things down.
I built a giant living room fort complete with candles and champagne, he ordered us ramen and set up camping chairs on top of an empty parking garage. I dressed up like I was going out on the town just for him to make us fresh-squeezed margaritas. I attempted to cut his hair, he bought me roses. I set up a wings and hot sauce challenge for him, he took us on scenic drives, blasting 90s music. I brought him sushi, he brought me Chinese. I cooked crockpot recipes and rented movies, he ordered pizza and rubbed my feet. I wrote him a poem, he made me breakfast tacos and French toast. Our dogs became best friends and wannabe lovers, and I guess we also accidentally became best friends, but definitely lovers.
This whole thing has been ridiculous and beautiful and indescribably absurd. My career took a pretty hard hit, the progress on my dissertation took an even bigger hit, my mental health was shaky at best, the country was in what can only be called utter chaos, and then…I fell in love?
I’m actually mad that yet another cliché is true. “When you stop trying and stop looking for it—when you least expect it—it’ll happen.” I gagged when someone would tell me that for the hundredth time. The year 2020 being cancelled, surviving a pandemic, and narrowly avoiding murder hornets was not what I thought they meant when they said “least expect” but I get it now.
There’s not much that I know “in these strange times” or “amid all this confusion” or whatever email starter you prefer, but I do know that I wish I could bottle his hug and laugh and the way he brushes my hair out of my face. “In these uncertain times,” I’m pretty certain about him. Amongst the million “hope this finds you well”(s), I’m glad I found him.