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Redefining Relationships in a Pandemic

Day 98 of COVID-19 quarantine with my boyfriend…and my parents.

I live in an apartment in Manhattan with my boyfriend and our dog. Fourteen weeks ago, as NYC was rapidly rising to become the epicenter of the Coronavirus, we packed an overnight bag and headed upstate to hunker down with my parents in their house in the country. It meant not only more space for the three of us, but way less possible social interactions than we would have had in NYC.

Note to reader: a single overnight bag for two people does not last 3.5 months.

I prefer to think of myself as an optimist; though admittedly I identify more with the word “realist”, (which the more you say aloud and try your damndest to dress up with positivity, you eventually surrender to the fact that you’re really just a pessimist living in disguise).

Optimism is a hard find these days for many of us. Envisioning life post Covid-19 seems like a daunting task. Hell, remembering life pre-pandemic doesn’t really ring a bell for me right now tbh.

I fluctuate daily on my grasp of this whole quarantine situation.

Some days I wake up and do a mental scan while I lie in bed, running through a list of things I’m grateful for in my head before my feet even hit the floor. These are the days I meditate, work out, take a long walk around the neighborhood, call a friend or two, make 3 healthy meals and probably listen to some country music. I’m the best version of myself on these days.

Other days I wake up with a slightly different mentality. My first thought here is AGHHHHHHHHHH ANOTHER DAY OF THIS CRAP? WHAT THE HELL! I tend to speed right past my gratitude list on these mornings, heading instead directly for the mental list of things I hate about quarantine. Wearing masks and gloves, the lack of any kind of structure whatsoever, sleeping in my parents’ guest room with my boyfriend while we pay an arm and a leg for an apartment in Manhattan that we haven’t lived in for three and a half months, and I could continue but I’m having one of the other days so I’ll pause here for your sake. Days like this are a struggle, and I know I’m not alone in experiencing them.

redefining relationships

Relationships of all sorts are being challenged right now.

We’re spending a LOT of time with some people and barely any time with others. The relationships we have with ourselves, our romantic partners, parents, kids, friends, and pets are all being redefined and we’re all simply trying to manage and figure out how to do life under this new normal. I for one, never thought I’d be living with my boyfriend and my parents simultaneously, but here we are. It’s not easy to take four adults and put them under one roof for an extended period of time, you can take my word on that. We’ve all had to make adjustments to our normal routines to make cohabitating work, and for the most part, we’ve adjusted pretty well. There have been some bumps along the way; trying to give each other space can be challenging, add in the fact that we’re all working from home and that’s downright difficult.

Luckily, my parents have a finished basement with two bathrooms, otherwise I’m sure by now we would have all gone totally insane. There have been silver linings to quarantining with my boyfriend and parents, believe it or not. For instance, we all love to play games. There have been many fun game nights over the last few months, and I’ve learned that I get my competitive gene entirely from my mom.

Suddenly we’ve been given all this time and we’re all trying to decide what to do with it.

It’s sort of ironic. If you’re anything like me, you frequently have thoughts like (pre-quarantine at least) “there’s never enough time”. Now that we have more than enough time, we’re at a loss for how to fill our days. Much of this is attributed to the fact that restrictions are in place, so our options are limited, but there are still ways to cope under quarantine. What I’ve found helpful is to create a “bucket” list (a small bucket, more of a jar than anything really) of things I want to do during quarantine. Think less skydiving and more learning a new language, but I think Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson would still dig it.

In making my list (and it’s an ever growing one as restrictions stay in place and getting creative is of the utmost importance) I considered the important relationships in my life. I have things on my list that I want to do for myself: write more, speak spanish and practice yoga. I want to read new books to my 2.5 year old niece (thanks to Zoom, this is very doable). I want to get more creative in the kitchen with my mom. We really enjoy making plant based meals together and I get to expand my recipe repertoire while doing so. I have fun ideas for dates with my boyfriend; we’ve done movie nights with popcorn and wine, we did a wine and paint date where we drank wine, listened to Frank Sinatra, and attempted to draw an orchid. This was equally romantic and hilarious. We also recently did a virtual escape room. Look it up. You’re welcome.

We will get through this.

No it’s not ideal, but we can choose to make the most of this time. There will come a time in the future when we wish we had the time that we have now. We just have to get a little creative, stay positive and pick each other up when we are struggling. I’m trying to remember to find the joy in spending this time with my boyfriend and my parents. It’s making me appreciate the relationships I have with them even more than I used to.