Remote work has given us life together. Now what?

Before the pandemic, I was measuring the distance between me and Matt in travel increments. Fifteen hour drive from Ventura, Calif. To ...


Before the pandemic, I was measuring the distance between me and Matt in travel increments. Fifteen hour drive from Ventura, Calif. To Santa Fe, New Mexico. late with the porch light on, waiting for me.

Sometimes I would go to the smaller mission-style airport in Santa Barbara, which was 30 minutes away, and then take two connecting flights from there, begging not to get stuck in Phoenix or Denver, although I would. do this often, wasting precious hours at the airport gates.

When Matt came to see me, it was the same, except that I waited for him.

Matt and I met years earlier in Santa Fe while working as editors at the same magazine. We were friends before we started dating. Two years later, as we neared the point of deciding how serious we were with each other, I received a job offer at Ventura. It was a good opportunity, but it didn’t make sense for Matt to quit his job to come with me, or for me to let it go and stay.

We were in our late twenties then trying to figure out our life, our work and our relationships, a process made more difficult by the high cost of living and careers in an industry that often felt like it was disappearing under our control. eyes.

I said I would give him a year at Ventura, but a year quickly turned into two, then three. And all this time, we have stayed together. Fearing to put down roots in California and save money to buy plane tickets, I decided not to sign a lease, but to bounce between friends’ sofas, the backseat of my car. and house-sitting gigs, sometimes staying in discounted hotels or avoiding office security from cuddling in a sleeping bag under my desk at work.

Matt called me every night to reassure me that we were home and that we would find out, but it seemed impossible. For Christmas, he bought me carbon offsets equal to one circle around the earth, which is roughly the number of miles I had traveled to see him.

When I finally gave in and rented an apartment, he and I were staying up late doing crossword puzzles on FaceTime with our dog, Meru, curled up at my feet. Every conversation we had before saying goodnight ended with the same refrain:

“What are we going to do?”

“We will find out. “

Then it was March 2020, and a new virus was spreading. Antibacterial wipes appeared on conference room tables as infections approached. My mom called one day after a shift at the hospital where she works as a recovery room nurse to tell me she was starting to worry. No one knew what to do.

I joked with my boss, “If we go into a quarantine situation, can I go to New Mexico?

“Of course,” he said with a shrug, “that will never happen.”

I read the news and bought extra beans and rice and dog food and wondered about the water. I had undergone a series of fire evacuations over the past few years, but how was a person supposed to prepare for a pandemic?

Two weeks later, my boss texted me, “Pack your stuff. We close the office on Monday.

I called Matt to say, “We’re coming. “

It rained the day I left California, the scary kind that sets off mudslides and makes Californians drive like the road is covered in black ice. I left after work and drove until I couldn’t take it anymore as the rain turned to sleet on I-40, rushing through the backs of hundreds of semi -trucks and slamming in my windshield, blurring the road.

Once on this road, I ran out of gas just eight miles west of Seligman, Arizona. It was 2 a.m. and I called Matt. An hour later, a tow truck showed up and I limped into Chevron station, scared and tired.

This time I filled the tank more often than needed and took pictures of the cheeky virus prevention signs at the rest areas (“Wash your hands like you’ve just finished slicing jalapeƱos for a lot of nachos and you have to remove your contacts. ”) In Flagstaff, I slept in the Whole Foods parking lot and woke up in the snow.

When I finally got to Matt’s place the next day, he was in a mess, plunging himself into an unprecedented state of anxiety, too worried to even hug me. For better or worse, he was always able to keep some distance from difficult emotions, but in this case, they collapsed. We talked about it, how the news made him feel like he had no control, and eventually some of the anxiety eased.

Months passed as it slowly became clear that I would not be returning to California anytime soon. Amid mask warrants and choropleth hospital cards, we settled into something we never had: a life together.

We planted squash, kale and tomatoes in the yard, made ourselves some coffee and went for a run. We did the laundry, swept the floor, cleaned the hard water stains from the walls of the shower. I took yoga classes online while Matt criticized my form from the couch while eating oatmeal from our only bowl. And Meru stopped shredding books – which she always did when one of us left.

In August, we drove to California in a U-Haul van and moved everything out of my apartment, stopped in Big Sur on the way, and slept in the van when we couldn’t find a place to camp. Even my succulents have remained untouched all the way to New Mexico, where we gathered our combined lives in her tiny Santa Fe casita, despite our long bewilderment that there was only one drawer.

We marinated the last of our summer tomatoes, read books, waxed our skis for the winter, and organized the shed. We worried as intensive care beds filled and the news got worse. We shoveled snow.

Once our hours together were urgent, filled with the feeling that everything had to fit in a few days: the excitement of seeing each other, an argument over something, seeing friends, meeting in a new place on those occasions when we could. both go away.

Now we revel in the exquisite and mundane experience of just living with the person you love. As the loneliness of our distant life wore off, our relationship grew and deepened. Our families joked that all it took to get us together was a once-in-a-century pandemic.

We felt guilty for being happy – we had a job, a place to live and for each other – and we kept remembering how lucky we were to find that ray of hope. during such a dark and painful time.

And then it was April 2021, and the vaccines were available, so we went to the Santo Domingo Pueblo health center to get vaccinated. Coming out of our separate cabins, our eyes met. The look that passed between us was a look of gratitude but also of understanding: the end of the pandemic could also mean that we would be separated again.

In the early summer, as things started to open up, Matt and I attended my brother’s wedding in Montana and hugged the family for the first time in a year. We had friends over for dinner and specials grilled at a bar without masks. And all the while, we were waiting for news of my work at Ventura.

Then, of course, the Delta variant brought us back to everything we thought we were leaving behind: masks, distancing, overflowing hospitals, and uncertainty about returning to work. At the same time, it has prolonged our time together, causing it to feel so incongruous and twisted.

No one wants this pandemic to continue. The suffering and loss has been untold. And yet, this strange combination of circumstances also allowed us to start our life together.

For now, let’s wait. And we go back to our refrain from almost two years ago:

“What are we going to do?”

“We will find out. “

This time, however, whether it’s here or there, we know we’re going to do it together. This time, for the first time, it seems possible.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Remote work has given us life together. Now what?
Remote work has given us life together. Now what?
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