I’ve moved into my boyfriend’s house and I’m back to being rural again. It feels good. For the past three years I’ve lived in a studio apartment with my dog on a city street in Portland, Oregon, and that was cool. Very convenient, lots of interesting tattoos, excellent food scene and inspired culture. Then the pandemic hit, and you know what happened. Lockdown. Now Covid winter is approaching, and I think my social isolation is going to increase along with the risk of infection. I wasn’t looking forward to a long rainy season staying safe in my solo bubble in Portland, managing the hundred miles between me and him, spreading myself across two bubbles. So, we merged our bubbles into one household.
Would this relationship be on such a fast track if not for the pandemic? Probably not. I’m madly in love, but I’m not nuts. Under the previous circumstances now fondly thought of as our lost normal, where infectious disease was not an ever-present threat to our lives, we might have taken a year to adapt to one another. But the new normal of Covid-19 crystalized our choices. We are safer living together than apart.
I have an advantage (at least, so far it seems like an advantage) that most people would not have in launching a new relationship at the speed of Instacart. Six months ago, I published a memoir about the last 20 years of my life, all the changes I went through, my failed marriage, becoming a widow and farming alone for seven years on a dead-end gravel road before my late life sojourn into self-discovery. He read the book, which as it turns out is a handy user manual for how to live with me. No surprises. It’s an 85,000-word personal profile, perhaps a little long for social media, but detailed enough for him to understand my preferences, that I love animals and living an outdoor lifestyle, and, when I’m feeling out of control, I clean; the perfect fit for another animal lover who lives in the woods and hasn’t cleaned his kitchen in seven years.
Before I moved in, we communicated thoroughly for a couple weeks about the big picture of house/home, work, dogs, cars, food, and expenses. We are culturally attuned to one another having both grown up in Illinois, went to high schools in the same athletic conference, sang in the same choir, listened to the same radio stations, both watched Garfield Goose and Bozo the Clown, spent Saturday mornings with the Three Stooges, loved Star Trek and classic rock. Also, we both like poppy seed cake. What more do you need to know?
We’re sharing a house, not cloning ourselves. If it’s not a perfect match, it’s close enough to get us through Armageddon, and if we come out the other side of 2021 together, maybe we’ll have a conversation about what color to paint the bedroom. Meanwhile, I’m good to go with this guy, and so grateful that our life experience has prepared us for this moment when our grit becomes a pearl.