It came this Sunday. The email we’d been worried about, pinging my girlfriend’s inbox like a raven with news from the North.
“Dear [startup that hires mostly women],
We’ve decided to take preventative measures to mitigate the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. We will be closing the office starting Tuesday for all non-essential work. The office will remain closed through March 31st. You may come to the office Monday to collect whatever items you need to work from home: laptops, chargers, emotional support plants, inspirational mugs, etc. The kombucha tap has been removed. We apologize but not really.
[Forbes 30 Under 30 Winner]”
My girlfriend and I have been dating eighteen months. We track the months because, like an infant, we’re developing so fast these days. In November, we wrote down our favorite male and female dog names for when we get a puppy. In January, I crawled to her for the first time, because she ordered me to and I couldn’t take any more hot candle wax on my lower back. Things were perfect.
Now we’re at the stage where she sleeps over 4-5 nights a week. In the morning, she wakes up and knows to leave the bed immediately—no snoozing allowed for the earlier riser. This means that when I emerge from the covers, sometimes hours later, the house is quiet and ripe for my brain to word nut all over these webpages (Faulkner 3:16).
fFrom 9-5, that’s my space, my incubator, my revolving no-pants slow-dance with the refrigerator, snack cupboard, and RedTube. At 4:45, I shower, wipe down the keyboard, and turn on the dishwasher or light a candle to welcome back my strapping, industrious breadwinner to a warm, welcoming home.
So you can imagine how upending that email was for us, aka me. For while my girlfriend still pays rent for a perfectly comfortable place of her own, she doesn’t see why she should brave the subway to her apartment each morning when my Wifi bandwidth is perfectly large enough for two. Sure, she could work at a coffee shop, but those payment touch screens might as well be a used dental dam on the streets of Wuhan. It’s far safer here, with me, where a fresh cup of coffee and a free lunch are only a simple “can you make some for me too?” request away.
I can’t describe how much things have changed now that my workspace has become communal. No more shitting with the door open to enjoy that cooling cross breeze. No more playing of “gentle rain sounds with thunder” on a 10-hour loop unless I put my headphones on, which make my ears hot.
Simply put, I’m not myself. It’s like when the principal would come sit in on a class in 7th grade for teacher evaluations, looking super weird sitting at a kid’s desk: not only did the teacher talk in a lower voice and hand out prepared worksheets for the first time all year, but the kids would straighten up and ask better questions too. Everyone was off their game, and the class hit a new, unfamiliar gear. Such a sudden rise in productivity is dangerous. You have to ease me into these things, or I’m going to pull a brain hammy.
I’m staring down the barrel of an entire month of co-working. My workday and my evening life have commingled into a single, immutable stream of time. We are prisoners of the virus, quarantined cellmates taking turns at the microwave, the sink, and the Peloton. But we’ll make it work, because we must. For when you boil it down, you learn that survival is the only #relationshipgoal that matters.