How My Ex and I Reconnected and Moved in Together Under Quarantine
Things between Sammy and I didn't work out the first time. But social distancing brought us closer together.
A little over a month before the Great Pandemic crashed the party that is living in New York City, leading everyone to stay home, I had started dating Sammy. Again. We originally met on a dating app in the fall of 2018. A cosmopolitan with killer style and a fascinating book collection, she was very much my type. I was into her. But like most online dalliances, it didn't last longer than a couple of months. Now, we're living together. How'd we get here? Well, sheltering in place happened.
I could tell early on in our first go around that Sammy wasn't as into me as I was into her, but I conveniently swept those doubts under the rug. After coming back from a work trip, she told me it wasn't working out, blaming her demanding job and how it was all just too overwhelming for her. There were certain qualities about me she simply didn't love, and if there was something better out there, no social distancing measures were in place to stop her from seeking it out. And knowing my track record, I absolutely would have done the same.
During the months that followed, I thought about Sammy a lot. There was something mystifying about her. Despite my lack of trying, I was unable to reproduce the remarkable chemistry we had together. So with nothing to lose, I texted Sammy one lonely Tuesday evening in November. "Hey, how are you?" I asked. Predictably, she was alarmed by the outreach, but indulged me nonetheless. We caught up on the past year over a brief phone call. I told her I moved back to Brooklyn, got a car, and suggested we take a trip to Storm King. (Working in tech sales, I know that starting high and meeting in the middle is a tried-and-true tactic.) She responded, "How about just a coffee?" Success! She was open to meeting up.
Like me, Sammy sought companionship and thought that the time was right for a second chance. But due to conflicting schedules, work trips, and winter holidays, our reunion actually didn't happen until two months later.
As it turns out, our second shot at dating was a marked improvement from the first. Maybe it was because we were both at different, more centered places in our lives, but the attraction felt stronger on both sides. It was actually going so well that we booked a spontaneous weekend trip to Puerto Rico, a risky move at the time. It exceeded every expectation of what that kind of trip could be. That's also when the paranoia around the coronavirus contagion was starting to refashion many facets of life. We wore masks on the flight and everywhere else we've gone since then.
When we returned, we soon got orders from our jobs to start working from home. We started co-working from my place, only because it's twice the size of Sammy's cozy studio apartment. We'd finish work around 6, cook dinner together, and fall asleep to some esoteric documentary about Uzbek goat herders. But it was not out of necessity that we decided for Sammy to stay at my place instead of going home after work.
One Saturday in mid-March, armed with our Purell and face masks, we made a grocery run to an Asian supermarket in Elmhurst, Queens. That's when we started truly living together. It's not like we ever had a specific conversation about quarantining together—it just organically happened. There was a shared commitment to make good use of our Shaoxing cooking wine and low-sodium soy sauce purchase. It made no sense to live apart at that point.
Sammy and I have truly been making the most of our quarantine together. We embrace the constraints it imposes, treating them as advantages that we wouldn't normally have. For example, eating out is no longer an option and we both eschew takeout for its excessive packaging and risk of infection to or from a delivery worker. So naturally, this means more opportunities to eat home-cooked meals, which are healthier, cheaper, and much more rewarding.
During business hours, we telework from opposite ends of the apartment. But for every lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, we meet in the kitchen to cook together, then sit facing one another at the dining table with laptops closed. This simple ritual serves a few purposes. For starters, it's a welcome respite from what is way too much screen time with all the virus news, Zoom conference calls, and Tiger Kings. It also affords us an opportunity to indulge in the type of aesthetic and epicurean experiences that we would otherwise seek out in restaurants and galleries. I'm not gonna lie, we've been banging out some gorgeous and delicious plates.
Honestly, we're quite lucky to have this lockdown coincide with us entering a honeymoon phase where we never tire of spending time together. Our relationship is actually thriving. Sheltering in place could have easily struck at a time when we were single and dating would have been too challenging, leaving us isolated and lonely in our respective apartments. Instead, we're just this insufferable couple that the single me used to heap scorn on.
But we also can't help but wonder whether we would be so smitten with each other if not for these extraordinary circumstances. Humans have an intuitive and psychological need to be taken care of with a human touch—a need that's perhaps greater during this time of strict social distancing and lack of physical connection.
And while Sammy and I were getting along like gangbusters before the quarantine kicked in, there's no telling if and when the temptation to explore other options would have made its siren call. Greener grass was always a sneaky swipe away. But now, the impracticality of meeting other people is no doubt squashing that urge to give into duplicitous impulses. There's also no work trips, no downtown happy hours, and no nights out with friends to use as cover for an affair.
I get the feeling that under normal circumstances, we would be seeing each other through a more critical lens. But the net benefit here is that it's easier to become more accepting of each other. In a way, it's like quarantining together is akin to dating pre-Tinder. It turned what could have been a potentially messy situation into something simple and focused.
Social distancing has definitely brought Sammy and I closer together. I'm hopeful we can sustain this closeness once the curve is flattened and all the distractions and temptations come back to the fore. For now, we're just staying home, in my Brooklyn apartment, where the only siren call we hear is that of too many ambulances.
And for more tales of romance from life in quarantine, check out: These Romantic Love Stories From Life in Quarantine Will Move You.
Daniel Sankarsingh is just another tech worker unwittingly gentrifying Brooklyn, one gluten-free donut and pithy observation at a time.