By Madeleine Rosie Strom
Yes, I was one of those people who lived with their other half over lockdown.
The initial excitement was long lasting. We both attend different Universities, so knowing I would have more than just one weekend every 3 weeks with him was something of a magical experience. Long distance relationships can be hard, especially when summatives and exams intrude. I was not planning on letting a global pandemic wriggle its way into my romantic affairs either. Sorry COVID-19, but you are not destroying both my chances of graduate employment and my love life.
At first, we lived like kings, like royalty, like we had all the time in the world to spend our days doing exactly what we wanted. And yes, that is exactly what we had. Our time was spent pursuing two main activities: eating and watching television on the sofa. Of course, I am not complaining. Both these activities are extremely fun and enjoyable. In fact, if I could spend every day cuddling on the sofa, tucking into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream with Peep Show gracing our television screen, I would. Yet, this lifestyle choice, funnily enough, is not made for an excessive amount of time.
Every 3 days, we found ourselves wandering the aisles of the supermarket, chucking in any food item we thought worthy to be placed in our daily sacrifice, otherwise known as the sheer amount of food we would consume at dinner. With the absence of the gym, I could feel myself getting more and more unfit with every bite and morsel of the beautiful culinary dishes we prepared, including halloumi peanut curry, chicken teriyaki wings and homemade gnocchi.
Yes, our kitchen skills improved, but my bank account did not. This, coupled with the weekly Zoom pub quizzes we were involved in, did not sit well with my Santander account at all. Perhaps the banning of more than one household member in a supermarket was an act of Divine intervention, otherwise who knows the influence we would have had on our basket and trolley choices.
We realised that we needed to budget, plan and, most of all, remember that University was still occurring. In the midst of our enjoyment, numerous lectures were waiting to be watched, summatives were itching to be written. Studying is hard with your boyfriend in the same room, let alone studying during a global pandemic.
Being an easily distracted character, I would find myself forcing him to watch another episode of Tiger King with me, rather than reading the set texts for my examinations. I admit that I am the less focused one of the two, and my other half acted to prevent a total overhaul of routine. Instead of just binge watching and binge eating, our morning and afternoons were filled with exam preparation and our evenings then become our ‘down time’.
Did our bond become stronger? Absolutely. Lockdown suited us rather well. We never truly did ‘date nights’, opting for a pub night or a simple takeaway with a film. The fact that we did not have to go anywhere was not a change for us at all. What changed however, was the pure emotional vulnerability that comes from spending all your time with one person, in one location. We never fought or argued, but if there was an ill emotion, you simply could not lie or hide it. You talked it out and supported each other.
One memorable moment was when my DUO screen blared a rather unfortunate summative score, which led to me sobbing for a solid hour. The only solution, of course, was for him to help me dye my hair pink in an act of defiance, then sit in bed with ice cream and chicken nuggets.
We understood what we needed from each other, and when we needed it most. He learnt that the easiest way to cheer me up is by supplying me with copious amounts of mozzarella sticks. I learnt that I needed to wait at least an hour after waking up for him to want to start talking, without the residue grogginess. The act of being comfortable with each other, to such an extent that living together becomes a natural and easy way of life, is something I truly will treasure.
Now, we have just come back from a week’s staycation in Sussex, a final wave to our summer of being together. As much as I will despise being away from him again (3 weeks is a long time mind you), the knowledge that we can live together perfectly will make things a lot easier. COVID brought a lot of pain and sadness, but I can say that my lockdown experience was one of growth, love and laughter.
Image courtesy of Alex Iby via Unsplash