Love in the Time of Covid
Early in the pandemic, the university locked its doors and switched to online learning. Then our entire city locked down.
Within days, most of the students living in tiny apartments in our glorified rooming house returned to their family homes. A Belarusian student on a temporary visa and I were soon rattling around an almost deserted house. With self-isolation, we seldom saw each other.
After writing my exams, I focused on my twin passions: computer game development and climate change. I developed a strategy game where the hero challenges the opponents of climate change action.
In July, I reached the beta testing stage, but the prototype only worked on my computer. I sanitized everything, obtained facemasks, established two-metre distancing, and invited the one remaining student to test my game.
An hour later, she removed the virtual reality headset and turned toward me.
“Did you win?” I asked.
“I battled endless enemies while vanquishing none. I survived, and somehow, I made your life quality index better than it was when I started.” She glanced at her phone. “Six thirty, and I’m famished. Can we go somewhere for dinner?”
“Out? I thought the pandemic closed everything.”
She laughed. “You’re so out of touch.”
“Gone nowhere for months.”
“Things have eased up, and I know a vegetarian restaurant—quiet, outdoor patio, small tables, well-spaced, safe.”
“Why didn’t you go home after the university went online?” she asked as we strolled toward the restaurant.
“Alone, estranged from my family,” I said before pointing at our apartment house. “That’s as close as I get to a home. What about you?”
“Can’t leave. One more term, and I’ll have my degree. If I go home now, and travel restrictions prevent my return in September, I’ll lose everything.”
I felt this strange urge to put my arms around her. “Been hard, hasn’t it?”
She wiped away a tear. “Yeah, like really. I’m not a loner like you. I need family and companionship.”
To hell with social distancing, I thought as I grabbed her hand and pulled her into an embrace.