The other day, as I was waiting outside the vet clinic to pick up Elvis, a woman caught my eye. She was standing nearby, impeccably dressed and presumably waiting for her fur bundle as well, at the same clinic. And something struck me. You ever get the feeling that someone is looking at you well before they realize you know that they're looking at you? A moment of serendipitous stolen glances? Obviously, in New York, sometimes these moments can be far less than ideal (and come with their own fair share of inappropriate comments, but that's another story, for another day), but other times, they're just glorious! Like kismet in the making. Of friends and lovers, alike.
Back to this woman though. I noticed a look in her eyes as she glanced over my dress. "Tell me everything about your outfit!" she said. I smiled and replied with the universal olive branch response: "Thank you! It has pockets!"
We eventually got to chatting about the dress, about the city, about why our dogs were at the clinic that day and before I knew it, I was 30 minutes into a lovely conversation with a woman whose name I didn't know! (I know, I know, where were my manners?!).
Her dog was discharged first, so our neighborly chat ended there, but before leaving with her pooch, she turned to me and said, "I know this is going to sound strange, but would you want to grab a drink sometime? It's been so hard making new friends in the city lately."
In that moment, it dawned on me how often we put ourselves out there for dating, but we don't offer ourselves in the same way when it comes to forging new friendships, especially as we get older, busier and perhaps more set in our ways.
All of this is to say, I think you'll love the friendship stories compiled here — all of them a beautiful reminder to not fear vulnerability when it comes to nurturing those nearest and dearest to us — the family of our own choosing.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to text my new friend back and arrange happy hour drinks.
1. "My cousin, who's more like a sister as I'm only eight days older, and I had dwindled in connection. It'd be over a year and a half since communication and visits ceased, and for no specific reason.
After losing relatives in 2020, I wrote a letter (because, letter writing) about reconnecting.
A dinner in February, which we both admittedly felt oddly like a job interview, allowed us to repair an unoriginal case of miscommunication. Now, we're thick as thieves once again and she'll be my Maid of Honor next October.
Pushing pride, or whatever, aside was well worth it!"
2. "I have a group of girlfriends (four of them) that I met through work. We no longer work together or at the company, but our connection stayed intact.
We immediately clicked and had so much in common...from personality similarities, to fashion, beauty, politics, likes, dislikes and more. They're definitely sisters and a squad for sure. We have a group chat on Messenger and communicate daily about anything and everything. We lean on one another and are there for one another. They inspire and motivate me daily and are positive energy and light in my life.
When I lost my dad at the end of 2019 and my best friend at the beginning of 2020, they were there for me and still are.
I'm so thankful for these humans and the sisterhood we have."
3. "For strengthening current friendships: My husband and I are 10 years apart. Incidentally, he was the last of his friends to get married and have a kid while I was the first of my friends to get married and have a kid. We both found it important to always be excited for our friends no matter what life stages they're in — single, dating, married with kids, married without kids — and to always create an inclusive space so that our friends don't ever feel like outsiders. It's awesome having friends in so many different life stages and getting to celebrate where they are in life."
4. "The old saying of "quality over quantity" is so on point the older you get. After your 20s, everyone's schedule gets busier and busier. I cherish my quality time with my quality friends that push me to grow, be better and take risks, support me when I fall, make me belly laugh and make me feel so whole. They're limited, but the few I have are so golden."
5. "Five months before Covid hit, I moved from NYC to LA. I had amazing friendships in NYC. And I never felt like I had a problem connecting with folks or meeting them. Alas, I got offered a dream gig and moved to LA where I frequented but only would call one or two people, friends that live here. The thought of making new friends was daunting. And LA is very different from NYC. My normal way of making friends just was plausible in this work and car environment. People started introducing me to their friends that they knew lived here. And while in person meet ups were nonexistent this year, we started to connect via email, text and Zoom. And now I have a little crew that I connect with so well. I would have never leaned into tech if it weren't for the pandemic as a way to meet folks. But alas, I'm coming out of this with some solid friendships!"
6. "I went on a year long solo travel trip after college graduation. The European leg of my trip had to be delayed so I headed over to Canada instead even though it wasn't on my list. Did a one-month workaway in Toronto. The dude who I helped renovate his Victorian had a stepdaughter who was visiting him my first day. You know how in movies people make eye contact and you just swoon? That's how I felt with her. We made eye contact in this gorgeous kitchen and I knew immediately she was going to be in my life forever. And the rest is history. She has consistently celebrated me and been there and we show up for each other. We had plans to see each other at her graduation but Covid changed that. As for how to strengthen your friendships — show up. That's really it — be willing to learn your friend and show the heck up for the good and the bad in the best way you can. It's so freaking easy to get lazy or get distracted but friends are such blessings. Don't sleep on them. One of my college buddies and I exchange videos from the camera in the iPhone and just message them to each other. A bootleg Marco Polo but we have gotten closer. Another — we have foodie adventures where we eat one thing at five different places in one day (each adventure has a theme)."
7. "As an adult, most of my friendships began at a workplace. They either grew from there or were just casual grab a drink after the end of the day. A lasting friendship is one with my former grade partner. From the first day she knew I was interested in being the 'other kindergarten teacher' she hand wrote a name sign and placed it on my door before the principal made the decision. Through 13 years of teaching together, we led the Halloween parade in matching costumes. We were clowns, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Dorothy and the Scarecrow, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and very convincing witches. So convincing that when we made our playground entrance, children ran away! One year from Christmas, she gave me a Christmas cactus for a gift. I still have it. It's 18 years old. Even though we see each other often, we send cards to each other. We sign them YFP. Meaning Your Forever Partner. We are both great Phillies baseball fans. Our dream has been to be on the Jumbotron at a game. One September Sunday afternoon game, we did it. We made it three times that Sunday afternoon. And when the game was over and we were walking out, people said hello and were remarking about our Jumbotron success!"
8. "My childhood best friend and I have never gone to school together (we met running track) so we've always been pretty good at making time for each other — it was never a friendship of convenience. As kids, we would talk on the phone for hours and write six page letters to each other. Fast forward several years, she went away to a military college and I went to a small liberal school four hours away. Our letter writing skills really came in handy when she was going through the school's version of basic (break you) training! Ten years later, I moved to New York and she stayed in Charleston. A couple years after that, the pandemic hit. We started working out together every day over Zoom. Then it evolved to working out and cooking dinner and eating together. We definitely wouldn't have gotten through the lockdown as easily as we did without each other."
"I think it's a great lesson in holding onto those relationships and chasing them, helping one another find a way back to the people who matter most in your life. We normalize doing so for significant others or family; why not our closest friends, too?"
9. "New York City has been the place to reconnect with old friends and I'm so thankful for that. During my first week in NYC, I realized some old friends were also in the city. On my second week, I was on a rooftop looking at Brooklyn Bridge and sharing an amazing night with old friends from two different stages in my life. They made NYC feel like home right away. And without even asking, one of them became my guarantor (when he found out I was about to pay six months deposit up front because I was moving to the US with no credit history) and the other friend added me to her family phone plan! I mean, who does that?! Friends that become family.
Three weeks later, I was moving in to my apartment in the Upper East Side and I ran into a friend (at Starbucks). Last time I saw her, we were 17. Turns out, she was also moving to the UES and we were neighbors. We are best friends now and became each other's support system during the pandemic.
Last one: Summer of 2019 — on my way to be reunited with my Torino (Italy) roommates, American Airlines canceled my flight. Little did I know, but thanks to that, I ended up meeting one of my future good friends in New York City. We were both stuck and frustrated at LaGuardia — ended up sharing an Uber back to the city and having paella at Boqueria. We connected immediately and we started making plans for concerts, dinners, hikes. Thanks to American Airlines, I was late to my reunion but I also gained a great friendship that I'm sure will last forever."
10. "When I started my last job, I was nervous to meet the other manager. She and I would be working closely together, and we were about the same age. I was nervous because I'd worked with other women who were competitive and would throw me under a bus if it could advance their career. To make matters worse, Kristi was this gorgeous blonde girl who just seemed so cool. Great style, a great sense of humor and steely eyes that made me think right away that she'd seen some shit.
Our friendship started slowly. It was founded on a mutual respect for one another's work. I was in awe of her pragmatic approach to tackling big projects. She was a whiz at creating strategic plans and seeing the big picture. She admired my ability to connect with clients and our employees on a personal level. She came to me for writing advice and editing. We complemented one another on the working level and soon began hanging out socially.
First it was working lunches where the conversation veered into our married lives. Then it was walks at the dog park with our doggos. We began texting about anything and everything — to the point where my partner Todd assumes that if I'm texting, it's to Kristi.
She and I joke that if our husbands both die before we do, we are going to become Golden Girls in a villa in Italy somewhere. Kristi may have entered my life when I was 39 years old but I have no doubt that she will be an important person in my story for the rest of my life. I never thought I would find a kindred spirit so far into my life, but I'm grateful that I was open to that possibility."
11. "I moved to Geneva temporarily in the middle of the pandemic and found it really difficult. I didn't know anyone and making friends was difficult (because of the pandemic). Had never used Bumble BFF before but I used it for the first time and met a few girls who were in a similar situation. Truly made a huge difference in my mental health and even though I left, we're still in touch today!"
12. "My closest friend is 73 and I'm 41. She's young at heart and I have a bit of an old soul. It just works."
13. "Just be yourself."
14. "My now husband and I moved to a new area nine months pre-pandemic, and I've struggled to find a space where I fit in. We're in a midwestern university town, but I feel like, in our late 20s, we're in an anti-sweet spot between nowhere ready to join the 'parent crowd' but well beyond the 'young party crowd' that seems to surround us. I'd cultivated deep friendships at university and then law school, where I (a fellow old soul) connected with ambitious, fun, intellectual, well-rounded peers. While I've been keeping up these long distance friendships, I've spent the last few years mourning the day-to-day of the way things were — apero-dinners, drop-ins, our casually ritualistic nights together. One upside of the new ways of working coming through the pandemic has been so much more freedom in where to live and work. Now, as it happens, a close friend and another mutual-friend couple, through a series of perfect opportunities, are moving here this summer. I'm eternally grateful. I think it's a great lesson in holding onto those relationships and chasing them, helping one another find a way back to the people who matter most in your life. We normalize doing so for significant others or family; why not our closest friends, too?"
15. "I made good meaningful friendships through TikTok, Discord and Instagram. Finding ways in Covid is rough but can be done if you are open to it.
Regarding tips, I guess just making sure you are genuine when engaging in a conversation. Not just spamming the comments with meaningless word blobs.
There are definitely different levels of online friendship. I don't know how to describe it, it's just a vibe. But you'll know, if you really know yourself. You'll know when you've made a friend online.
And yeah, it's scary, you'll think of all the people who catfish and scam online but I've been lucky to have met great friends who won't stop FaceTiming just for quality time. Some just want to hang out while drawing/reading/cleaning/whatever mundane tasks that needs to be done. Which has created a strong bond where we've shared intimate stories about our lives and plan on meeting up once it's safe to travel between countries.
We're all somewhat deprived of human interactions due to lockdown and Covid around the world, but because of how humans are quite the social beings, life finds a way. We. just need to be open to the possibility."
16. "Leading with heart and not being afraid to be vulnerable has expanded my capacity to be a friend."
17. "I had just relocated to Wilmington, DE from LA for work and I was seeing a man who also worked for the same company. I didn't know anyone really; I'm friendly and I would go out after work for drinks or happy hours or activities, what have you. Then, one evening, about maybe 6-7 months in, I was working late and so was another coworker who I really liked, but we hadn't really hung out ourselves. We were friendly, you know? Got along real well, but never took that "next step." I swear, it's like I'm writing a romance story. But a 'frie-mance!' So we're both closing that evening and I pinged her via Office Communicator and just asked, 'Do you want to have dinner/drinks one night?' And she responded immediately with 'YES.' So a few nights later, we had sushi together and she brought me Dunkin Donuts that snowy Saturday morning when I had an opening shift.
Up until September last year when I moved back west for family, we were almost inseparable. Eight plus years and counting. It was part of my wedding thank you speech: 'Jesse — oh my god, Jess, who knew a sushi date and a Dunkin' Donuts Saturday delivery would turn into this? The ying to my yang, as the Great Hair Debacle of Mexico unfolded showed. Thank you for your support, because without you, I would've had half the vision.'
Just like dating — I took a chance and put myself out there to her for her to accept or decline my invite. And here we are!"
During the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I read the book Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. As sometimes is the case with pivotal pieces of literature in my life, certain books really stick with me well after I read them, usually deeply intertwined with whatever was happening to me personally while I was reading the book. What's left when I reflect back on it — is usually an assortment of visceral memories of how I was feeling, what I was thinking, what was important to me at that time and how the characters accompanied me during a very specific chapter of my life. And Love in the Time of Cholera — she's a big one for me.
If you're unfamiliar with the storyline, it spans the late 19th, early 20th century love story of Florentino and Fermina — two star-crossed lovers in Colombia who fall for each other early in their youth. Over the course of the next five or six decades of their lives, you follow Florentino and Fermina weave in and out of each other's stories — first banned from marrying by their families, then separated by their own choosing opting instead to marry other partners — all while cholera rages on as an ever present, ever looming threat. Eventually, after spending much of their lives apart, they're reunited almost inexplicably — a testament to love in all the strange ways it finds us, leaves us, comes back to us and sometimes leaves us again.
When I first read the book, I was on the brink of a lot of changes — graduating from college, ending a long-term relationship and generally, trying to figure out what trajectory I wanted my life to take next. I suppose the narrative of this novel unnerved me at the time, because I couldn't quite see the beauty of a non-linear love story yet. Or even a love story that felt largely unresolved as theirs did at many moments. But if the past year has taught me anything, it's that the paths we navigate for our nearest and most intimate relationships with others (and ourselves) are rarely ever straight and narrow. They're filled with detours. Dead ends. Wild U-turns. One-way streets. Riddled with tragedy and joy alike. You may walk them alone. Or you may walk with a partner. And sometimes, you might walk them alone again. But the important thing is — you keep walking them.
All of this is to say — I really enjoyed reading through all your love stories in the time of Corona and I'm so incredibly honored that you decided to share them with me. Each one is a beautiful insight into a time in all our lives that will largely shape us, hopefully for the better, for years to come. As noted, all stories here are anonymous and will take about 20 minutes to read from start to finish. So I'd definitely refill that cup of coffee now, if I were you.
1. "For the first few months of the pandemic, we slept in two different rooms. My husband is a fire fighter/EMT and back then there was so much uncertainty and we were trying to just stay alive. Even after we figured out the risk and how to be smart about it, due to quarantines and long shifts, he was still working so many days away from home. But this February, almost a year later, we both got assigned to work at the local vaccination clinic. The 10 hour days together, him vaccinating, me registering and filling out cards, felt like a miracle. Every time we sit at that table is a moment to be grateful and see how blessed we are to still be here, together."
2. "I connected with someone during a mutual friend's virtual birthday party. We acknowledged our mutual attraction for each other but, as we're on opposite ends of the country, agreed to continue getting to know each other platonically. It's been wonderful so far, especially since we're both emotionally mature and available enough to healthily maintain that boundary. We may meet in-person by the end of the year, which is exciting, and I'm at a place in life where I'm content with either remaining as good friends or becoming something more. The past year taught me that life is really unpredictable and enjoying things as they are in the present moment is the best outlook and mindset. Including in love (and I mean all forms of it)!"
3. "Not only did I move across country to a new city, where naturally meeting anyone is tough but to do so in a pandemic where human interaction is actually dangerous, was a problem. So where does one turn to? Of course, dating apps. Yet, I'm the type who shines in person rather than over dating apps. They just don't work for guys like me. Alas, I tried a couple COVID dates, super cute movie nights on my roof with takeout since we couldn't go anywhere but, it was all forced and. just confirming my doubts with dating apps. Therefore, as a hopeful/hopeless romantic, I'll wait patiently for human interaction to exist again and maybe I'll meet her at a coffee shop, the grocery store or even the dog park. The story is to be continued..."
4. "Celebrated our first full year of dating and ended up engaged at the curtain close of 2020. He surprised me with an in apartment chef and musician and my parents (our quarantine pod). It was the most wonderful evening and gives me an exciting task to focus on whilst navigating 2021!"
5. "At home 24/7 with my husband. We found a routine, we missed going out for dates, we made each other laugh and only occasionally drove each other crazy. I realized through all this togetherness that I am so grateful that he's the one I. have chosen to spend my life with."
6. "Me and an acquaintance both went through tough and unexpected break ups during COVID and he reached out to me (we weren't close, originally) offering support when I mentioned mine. I think he said something like, 'I'm sure you have a lot of people to talk to' and I don't know why I felt like brutal honesty was the best policy but I responded with something like, 'No, actually I really don't' and without expecting anything in return, he just started texting me. Asking if I wanted to make plans and then actually following through with them. He's also far away, geographically, and I don't know where things will end up but having someone who actually offers support and then follows through with that support? An easy, no-expectations friendship, full of humor, good movies and bad TikToks — it's been wonderful."
7. "I think COVID brought us closer and make us deal with topics we wouldn't have dealt with. Was it all rainbows and roses? Heavens, no! It's been rough, but overall, helpful. And I've learned we need a bigger place if we are going to live together."
8. "My boyfriend and I met in August of the pandemic on a dating app. I was moving to Chelsea and was looking forward to the dating scene downtown. I thought it was going to be a couple of awkward dates and then we'd move on. But I was wrong. We had an instant connection. I was badly sunburnt on our first date and was already so comfortable, I picked at my flaking skin! I was mortified when I realized what I was doing but apparently that didn't scare him away. We started seeing each other 4-5 nights a week. A month into our relationship, we broke his leg playing soccer and things escalated pretty quickly. I became his emergency contact for the surgery and helped take care of him the first couple of weeks post-operation. Fast forward 7 months, we're still together and planning to move in together this summer.
Prior to dating him, I've had a very strict 'no boys allowed' rule in my space. A week or so after my move, I had a chair delivered that I couldn't push up the stairs of my four story walk up by myself. He offered to help me move it and I had to tell him about my rule of not allowing non-serious relationships hangout. He just said okay and asked what time he should come by. The man not only walked across town in the rain to help me, he showed up with a bottle of champagne for me to celebrate my first solo apartment. After moving the chair, he didn't question me or try to overstay his welcome, and I packed my things for our night at his place. On the walk back to his, he offered to carry one of my bags. I told him no, I let him help me once today and it was a big ask, so we're good for the month.
We got stopped at a light and he squeezed my arm, kissed my head and said, 'I know it's hard to ask for help. And I know you can do it, I know you can do anything. I just want to make the walk a little more comfortable for you, so can I please carry one of your bags?'
And that was the night I knew I wanted to keep him around for a long time."
9. "My boyfriend and I moved in together after two months of dating. Four months later, the pandemic began and we spent the majority of it in a studio apartment. There were a lot of ups and downs and I learned a lot about myself, including that I love living alone. I asked him to move out after living together for over a year. We. are still dating but I learned that I want a relationship without co-habitating."
10. "What about if I decided to date myself this past year and see how self-kindness and goal-setting and quietude has literally changed my life in every single aspect I could have ever fathomed?!"
11. "After being married for six years, I had a wake up call that we grew as partners, working/studying/building homes everywhere we moved and raising kids — but we were never US. At least, my side of the story...I realized that most of the time, I felt alone. When when he was gone, I didn't miss him. When he was around, I became negative and toxic. I didn't recognize myself anymore. I tried so hard over the years (I am a romantic person and suppose he is not) setting up dates, dressing up but I felt like I was hitting walls or unheard. Then it all died and it all just became mundane routine. I hate routine. I lost myself and so we have been on a break since then. What will come, I don't know but I finally stepped up to do something for myself, my first time being selfish and it hurts, but otherwise, it wouldn't be me anymore."
12. "Shortly prior to the pandemic, I had retired after 40 years in ECE (Educational Credential Evaluators). I was enjoying substituting and volunteering at my former school. Then lockdown. Lockdown with my husband of 27 years who had been at home with a comfortable routine which did not include me! We learned to walk together, outside every day. We dressed for the weather. It's the simplest thing to do. When one of us didn't want to go, the other lent encouragement. We've actually become healthier. We've also shared a newfound enjoyment of British mystery series. Most evenings we will watch an episode, only one, so as to make it last. Such very simple things but they've brought us closer. Sometimes we say that we're grateful to have each other to spend the pandemic together."
13. "A couple great dates:
We rode electric scooters from Fort Mason to Crissy Field in San Francisco. We had amazing chemistry right off the bat (7 hours on the phone chemistry) so we both had the idea to do something kitschy for our first date. He picked me up after work on Saturday and we did it.
Walked our dogs together."
14. "I was a serial dater and during the pandemic I was still dating someone but I wasn't being fulfilled in a way that I dream to be with a partner — emotionally, intellectually, culturally etc. — and so instead of trying to just 'stick it out' for either a subconscious fear of being lonely, I decided to just stop and really be kind to myself like a partner would: spoiling myself, accepting myself, pushing myself and learning to love myself. And this has catapulted my success in my career, my emotional and mental well-being and through a profound sustainable connection with family and friends continents over. If I hadn't been single/'alone' (in quotes because I never truly felt alone) during the pandemic, I would not have become the person I am today. And the gratitude I have for others who have changed my life thus far, is the same gratitude I have to myself for giving me a freedom I never thought I would feel."
15. "I had the sweetest COVID romance. A friend set us up (long distance, SF - LA) late August and we had FaceTime dates until we decided to fly and work out of Oahu. It was supposed to be 12 days but ended up being 51. We event got a 1-month lease together. I thought he was the one. But then a big religious difference couldn't be overcome (I'm not religious, he is, and he needed me to convert). So at the end of Hawaii, we broke up.
That's the super reader's digest version but there were so many sweet moments in there. Our first FaceTime date, he asked if I wanted to have a 'happy hour' date. I assumed it was BYOB but he took the time to Google three local places close to me that delivered cocktails and asked me to pick. It's such a shame we couldn't compromise on religion because he was a sweetheart. But boundaries are boundaries and his church (arguably a cult) was way too intense for me."
16. "As doctors aren't sure what effects there will be if you have had COVID and decide to have children, my best friend (who is a midwife, as well as certified OBGYN and therapist) and I decided to have a child before getting vaccinated. We both went to facilities and if everything is fine/a good match, they'll make embryos in June, freeze them and my friend will use them in the winter of 2022.
Why? Well, I'm single, one of my last girlfriends died horrifically, the break up with the girlfriend after that was so hard, it took me more than a year to get over.
During quarantine and general life, I've grown so much and defined so many things for myself. One of those revelations is being OK if I don't have another partner. However, I do want children.
I've already sacrificed so much in my life, I'm not willing to make many more compromises. I also have a multitude of goals I still want to achieve. Through online and in-person COVID dating, nothing has clicked."
17. "Been with my partner for 5 years now and we've had wild adventures. From moving countries, food poisoning, living in a van together, long distance, traveling and so many dates around the world. Corona was our hardest time yet! I worked from home, but my partner is an essential worker for the trains. My favorite memories together in 2020 is our themed (at home) date nights. A cocktail and dinner themed to a country, sometimes a movie to match, sometimes a Marvel movie. Came out of lockdown (Australia) is COVID free now!) a little wounded but still bonded and full of love for each other and a few precious memories during a really tough time."
18. "In September, we had our second son. Normally, my husband is a stay at home dad, and I go into the office every day. But since March of last year, I've felt so lucky to be home. There have been hard times, mentally and emotionally, but I still have my job, I still have my family. I've spent the first 7 months of my baby's life at home with him. We were unscathed from all this. Sometimes I feel a sense of survivor's guilt, because I know the rest of the world is hurting so deeply."
19. "I ended an abusive relationship at the beginning of COVID with no job, no home and no money. It was the hardest and scariest thing I've done as a single mom." (This reader also shared two blog posts she wrote on the subject, which she has given me permission to share with you all, in hopes it helps someone else! You can read her first post here and second post here.)
20. "A missed connection in NYC turned into a long distance correspondence. Our talks soon spanned 13 hours. From morning to night, from evening to sunrise in the three time zones between us, we confessed our inner most fears and desires and admitted our growing feelings for each other. 2020 was riddled with so many uncertainties in many different ways, but I'd never thought I would experience it in romance. Spring turned into summer and life has a funny way of evolving in other ways, too. Our 13 hour Zoom conversations whittled down to 30 minute phone calls and then finally down to absolute silence. My last few words to him were left unanswered. A ghost of a pandemic romance."
"I decided to just stop and really be kind to myself like a partner would: spoiling myself, accepting myself, pushing myself and learning to love myself."
21. "I learned that my partner is who I want by my side when shit hits the fan. We navigated graduating college in a horrible economy, a pandemic, starting new jobs (thankfully), death, social injustice etc. and they made it bearable and were able to find happiness even in those dark moments. Those goes for my friends as well. This past year made me realize who really is there for you even if it's over an awkward Zoom happy hour."
22. "My partner and I have no seen each other since March 18, 2020. We were on vacation in Mexico when COVID was declared a pandemic and we flew home to our separate destinations. Prior to the pandemic, we didn't mind being long distance because we traveled around the world together. Now, separated by closed borders for 13 months and counting, we're rethinking distance. I try not to think about the situation because I always end up sobbing. I even miss the mundane moments, like discussing how to flush the toilet. Now I'm looking for a job overseas so that we can be together."
23. "Moved in with my boyfriend and a year later, I can actually call him my partner.
I went through a period of mourning that I didn't realize I needed until I was in the midst of it. Truly mourning my single life, I spent so much time working to get to a place of pure bliss as a single person the years before meeting my boyfriend that when it came time to giving up my last bit of 'just me' which was my studio apartment that was with me through the whole time, it was really hard. I didn't realize I felt that way until we moved into together. Plus, not just moving in together but working on the same sofa. The first few months were hard but once I came out of my mourning and let myself have that time, I truly felt like a fully bloomed flower. And now I know the true meaning of partner."
24. "Man, COVID shattered it all for me. From reshaping my view of myself to reminding me why I married my husband. COVID was hard but it only brought us closer. We have been tested many times during our decade together and without fail we have always grown closer during hard times.
When we had our daughter three months early and had to navigate stress like I have never felt, we grew closer. He loved me through months/years of self distraction so COVID was not going to fuck with out bond. We compromised a lot and learned to truly coexist in a world that was put on pause. There was no hiding from each other anymore and allowing life to help us hide our issues. Like every time before we took the task of making COVID our bitch on together and here we are. I love him so much and I hope to god Coco (our mini human) feels the love every day. Lord knows Pupic (their dog) sure does."
25. "I have two vastly different experience over the last year dating digitally/trying to make a connection when we're so isolated. The first was six months of confusion and excitement but ultimately no emotional intimacy. I think it really dragged out because we were exclusive for safety's sake but it turned out we wanted different things. I think some of the difficulty was not seeing each other in a normal environment meant it was more difficult to understand where the other person was coming from. If we had met in a bar on a night out, it would have been very clear from the beginning.
Now, I have been seeing someone for two months and it's fun and secure and easy. Which makes me feel that at this point, when we're used to all the complications and precautions of dating in a pandemic, it goes back to the basics. If you're feeling that connection and feeling good about it, then that's all you need. A rollercoaster relationship might be good for TV but in real life, it shouldn't be a headache or a heartache."
26. "I broke up with my boyfriend of 10 years and fell back in love with myself."
27. "We had big travel plans for April 2020 and we weren't going to start planning a wedding until after that. COVID cancelled our travel plans and after a few months in our apartment, we really wanted to buy a house sooner rather than later. I've always said I would need to be married before buying property with a partner. We were talking about it in like May/June, and we were like, well...why don't we get married? It escalated from the backyard elopement we initially envisioned, but we still had a very small (and affordable) wedding in September. It was just our six immediate family members in person and our friends and extended family got to watch the ceremony on Zoom. It was really wonderful. Super happy about how it turned out. Without COVID, we wouldn't had a bigger wedding and I really, really loved having a tiny one instead. We asked our family to prepare some remarks (a poem, advice, a memory, whatever) over the meal afterwards and it was one of my favorite parts of our wedding. Definitely wouldn't have been able to do that if had something bigger."
28. "Mine isn't a new love story, but an old one reignited. I never needed a reason to reignite my love for my husband, but being with him 24/7 was one of the loveliest and invigorating experiences for us and something we didn't know we so desperately needed. I was always in love with my husband, but being in quarantine last year with him made me fall even more madly and irrevocably in love with my husband."
29. "My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for five years now and when news of the virus broke out, I was shattered for many reasons and one was that I didn't know when we would be seeing each other again safely. I remember crying and feeling overwhelmed, but through the days, we both learned as the world had stopped or felt that way that now we weren't rushing through our days, as we both were in school and working from home at the time. We realized now we had more time to connect, not just at nights but throughout the day, we would call, FaceTime or Zoom call each other, sometimes we would just keep doing our thing and it felt nice to know the other person was there even through a video. We learned to communicate better, we cherished that we grew closer, although the pandemic was horrible and sad, we tried to hold onto the good and see some light on the very dark days.
After 10 months of not seeing each other, we finally reunited in November 2020 and because we were studying from home, we got to spend six months together, as before when we traveled to see one another, it would just be four weeks the most we could see each other. So even though all of the pandemic had been sad, worrying and scary, we both tried to hold onto the good and light and the opportunity that we we got to spend together and with our families. It's hard to see the good at times especially in hard moments we dealt with this as it was all new to everyone but my take on it when I feel sad is to remember we got an opportunity to stop rushing and pay attention to small details we didn't before and cherish and not take for granted moments with our loved ones and each other."
30. "My boyfriend and I had lived together for a year before lockdown here in England but I can say with absolute certainty that we are better communicators than we ever were before and have become even closer. The lockdowns also made us value every moment that we've been able to spend going for meals or dates or days out more than we did before. Some of our best dates have been in the gaps between lockdowns over the last year. We didn't actually want to go back to work (out of the house) because we realized how much we really enjoy each others company. Of course, we had moments of tension and challenges like anyone but they were so far outweighed by all the positives and I'm incredibly grateful for the year that we were able to spend together, both on furlough and working from home. There will probably (hopefully!) never be a time that we can spend an entire year together and while so many things have happened, I will always be happy that we had the time together and continue to."
31. "My fiancé proposed to me on March 2nd of last year, which I'd been waiting for, for so long! It was so exciting for us as high school sweethearts who have been long distance for years since I left for college, he enlisted in the Air Force, then I moved again for law school. Unfortunately, within about a week of the proposal, COVID was declared a pandemic and I realized that we'd have to wait a little longer to be married. While that was a huge disappointment, distance learning for my last semester of law school meant I could quarantine with him in Oklahoma, where he is based. Those extra months of time together were so amazing — we usually only see each other for weekends or a week here a few times a year. But now, I'm back in California and waiting fro him to finish his contract with the Air Force and come home so we can safely be married, surrounded by our friends and family next June. I've been bittersweet to have to wait even longer to be married but to also have so much extra time together."
32. "I live in Lawrence, KS and I went on a university trip (not a student anymore, but was invited with some friends who are staff and faculty) to London at the beginning of March 2020. The pandemic started becoming very real when we were over there. Classes started getting cancelled when the students got back etc. I met a guy who was a non-traditional student and he was my age. The friends who I originally went on the trip with went back to the States early, leaving me with a bunch of students I barely knew and an English professor! The guy and I basically had three day date, going to museums, drinking in pubs etc. We realized we lived four blocks from each other and had all the same friends. We flew back to the States and. had to quarantine immediately upon arrival. We essentially quarantined together for two. weeks and have been together ever since."
33. "Our story began in November. Corona didn't change much about dating here in Croatia. We met, we kissed, we fell in love. He works abroad (Germany), travels back and forth every month, so he gets tested a lot. It's hard to be me apart, but that's just a regular long distance relationship thing. Can't wait to see him again. We don't do video calls or stuff like that, keeping it old school."
34. "I was living in Paris in 2020 and my boyfriend (he's French) went to Vietnam in January on a two month work trip. He was supposed to be back in April but when the pandemic hit, he was stuck in Vietnam until September. My French visa ran out in July (I'm American) so I had to go back to New York before he could finally come home to France. Leaving without seeing him and knowing I was going even further away was one of the most heartbreaking things about this year. Since then, we haven't been able to see each other because borders between the US and France are still closed. It's been January 24 of last year (15 months!). I almost cried getting the first shot of my vaccine last week because I hope it means I can travel to see him soon."
35. "Russel and I met and dated briefly in high school. We broke up, as kids do, but we stayed friends. After college, I moved to NYC, he to Oregon. Through the years, we stayed in touch mainly via him sending me postcards from his travels or him stopping by our hometown to say hello to my mom (who would then call me and question why I wasn't with Russel. My answer was always, 'Mom, we're just friends!')" But to him, I was always something more. About three weeks before the pandemic shut everything down I moved to LA for a job. The pandemic hit and Russel and I were trapped on the west coast together, albeit far apart. We reconnected via text and phone and talked often during 2020. There was a spark, something was there; I was dying to know what it was. In January 2021, he got a job in SoCal. I drove up to meet him, to see what would happen. I ended up staying the whole week. We fell in love, we're still together. This is what I like to call a "silver lining of the pandemic."
36. "I was single before the pandemic. I feel like the pandemic helped put things into perspective for me. Work had always made me happy, but the early months of the pandemic helped me recognize that work couldn't be the only thing that made me happy and even as. an introvert, I was really craving social interaction (none of my friends had stayed in the city). Since the first couple of months were super lonely, I had a lot of time for introspection and reflection. I realized the qualities that were actually important to me in a significant other. Also, I would only put in the effort and get tested for someone I felt a genuine connection with.
I did meet someone wonderful (via Bumble) and our first couple. of dates were virtual cooking dates and picnic dates outside which was a nice change from the usual coffee or drinks. The one (extremely tiny) silver lining during this time has been that our relationship has stayed in a bubble and we've been able to focus on just spending quality time together and learning more about each other. Usually, I'd get more distracted with social activities with friends, work travel and other stuff. We were able to have our own mini-Thanksgiving and mini-Christmas celebrations, since in a usual year, we'd both be heading back to our parents' homes, which was quite lovely."
37. "My husband and I got married in August of 2020. Our wedding went from 100 people, to 50 people, to 30 people. Two weeks out, we found out my father (stuck out of the country) and older sister (tested positive for COVID — she's fine now) could not come. To be honest, I strongly considered cancelling everything. At the end of the day, our love story during Corona was not just out love for each other, but the love we felt from our community, both present at our ceremony and via Zoom. We got so many messages of love. In summary, there were many tears and lots of champagne."
38. "I moved into my ex's empty West Village apartment and then packed it up when the lease ended."
39. "Feels really hard to have missed out essentially on the entire year of my 20s when I'm in my prime."
40. "My boyfriend and I started dating at the start of the pandemic. Moved in together after three weeks."
41. "It was nice to have someone to quarantine with at first, then realized he wasn't even close to being the person for me at all But grew a lot during that relationship."
42. "Always wanted to elope, but feared upsetting our family. Pandemic = perfect excuse!"
43. "My girlfriend. and I have been dating for over five years. We had only lived together for about six months when the pandemic shut the city down. In every way, she worked to help me feel comfortable, safe and cared for during one of the scariest periods of our lives. She exemplified love in action this past year. I could not be more grateful for the person she is."
"Our 13 hour Zoom conversations whittled down to 30 minute phone calls and then finally down to absolute silence. My last few words to him were left unanswered. A ghost of a pandemic romance."
44. "It was early October. I was suffering through a bad break up from a toxic, abusive relationship (in addition to all the pandemic loneliness). I was on dating apps because I needed a distraction. I had connected with several guys, had gone on a few dates, but I wasn’t particularly excited about anyone of them. Then one Sunday, I matched with him. He was older, handsome, but still had this cool air about him.
We decided to meet on a rainy Monday morning (Columbus Day to be exact), because neither one of us had work. I was excited but also noncommittal about it because likely, he’d be “just like the rest of them.”
I entered the back room of Blue Stone Lane on Greenwich, the perfect little enclave for this type of tête-à-tête. It was just us two and another couple. We introduced ourselves and quickly got into conversation. But not just any old small talk. It was more like we had known each other for years. It was magical. I felt an instant connection, almost in love (a rare occurrence).
The rain was tapping the tin roof in a rhythmic pattern. It was so romantic. I felt like I was in a movie. We ate breakfast and drank coffee, but that was almost an afterthought. I was lost in him, and it felt like he was in me. Hours passed and we realized we soon had to leave because we both had to get on with our day. I could’ve stayed forever. He offered to walk me home with an umbrella, but I declined - my heart was skipping faster than I could keep up with my thoughts and I just needed to process this chance encounter.
I texted him when I got home to thank him and he responded immediately with “I don’t know what you did, but I can’t stop thinking about you. Can I see you again this week?” I was floating on cloud 9. “I’d love that”, I responded. And so our whirlwind romance began.
I came to find out he was my neighbor, the building next door. That made it easy, convenient, but also dangerous.
We dove head first into it. We went on dates and spent our days flirting. I’d meet him for coffee just before he got his work day started. He’d text me in the middle of the day to tell me he was thinking of me and asked me if I was available for dinner so he could see me. He even asked me to be his girlfriend. I was smitten. It was such a pleasant, unexpected surprise. I almost forgot about the depression I was in.
Things remained this way for about a month. But you know what they say, “the higher you climb, the harder you fall”. And sure enough, he abruptly ended things. No explanation, just a token, “I’m not feeling it”. I was devastated. I hadn’t been vulnerable or been willing to open myself up to anyone for a very long time. I gave him all of me. He broke my heart.
That was the end of November 2020. I felt lost, more loss, again. It was really hard to accept, difficult to understand because I had no answers.
Fast forward, he still lives right next to me, so naturally, I think about him everyday. I’ve run into him a couple of times and I’ve avoided contact, although he’s seen me on those occasions. A piece of me has always secretly been waiting for a text to set in - “how are you?” or “I saw you today”. That hasn’t happened.
I continue to date, but let’s just say, I haven’t let myself be vulnerable ever again."
Earlier last week week, I received my first COVID vaccination shot and quite unsurprisingly, it opened a floodgate of emotions for me. Gratitude. Relief. Shock. Pure unbridled joy. Humility. Unmistakable sadness. And even more gratitude. Since I figured I couldn't be the only person still processing how they feel about their vaccination (and perhaps more importantly, still processing how they feel about all of 2020), I opened up the stage for you all to submit your vaccination story — the idea being so that we could all collectively peek into each other's minds and hearts at what we hope is the bookend to a year that rocked us all to our core. All submissions below are anonymous and many I couldn't help but cry after reading. OK, I'll confess. I cried the entire time while reading these and then again, while compiling them here.
Moreover, there are quite a few even that punched me straight back to March of 2020, and I think we'd all do right to remember how we felt at that time. I don't say that to encourage us to feel controlled by the trauma of it but more so that we honor it to ensure the trauma wasn't in vain. Enough from me though — here are your vaccination stories that you so graciously shared with me. May they be a testament to what we endured, how we carried each other, how a great deal of brave men and women carried us all and just how incredible science can be when we trust in it.
1. "I'm a health care worker in NYC so I got my first dose a few months ago, but cried after it happened. Mostly in disbelief that there was finally a light at the end of a very dark and traumatic tunnel but also because I felt a sense of hope for the first time in over a year. Having to go almost two years without seeing my family, living alone in a studio apartment and watching people die daily and others not taking COVID seriously really took a toll on my mental health. It's so exciting to see everyone getting vaccinated and to watch the city slowly come back to life again. It feels like we are so close to the finish line. I cannot wait to hug people again, my patients included."
2. "The emotions that overcame me were quite surprising. I think we have all tried to be so strong while also trying so hard to stay healthy. I have fallen to my knees countless times praying for all those affected — physically, emotionally, financially — from day one. We are so many days out now and so much in this world has changed. But finally, all the change is headed in one direction, in the right one. We all remain unchanged after this. And we will all come out better and stronger. Still praying for all those we have lost and for all those who have experienced such loss. The lady in line in front of me hugged the person who administered the vaccine. I felt the very same way and wanted to, but was still reluctant to hug anyone. It's a great feeling knowing I can finally hug others. Life is too short not to..."
3. "Like many in 2020, I was praying for a hopeful situation to fight COVID. As the possibility of having a vaccine ready in the same year was increasing, I admittedly was one of the naysayers about getting it when it would be made available.
Call it culture caution knowing Blacks and other POC haven't had the best historical experience when it comes to new medical practices and having things injected into our bodies. But after doing some research and hearing from friends who are doctors, I felt more at ease to get vaccinated.
Though I had been uncertain, I have a precondition and have been lucky enough to not get COVID, but knew I needed to ensure my best health. So I finally decided that I would get vaccinated and I'm proud to say that I'm one shot in with one more to go.
I surprisingly got emotional and teared up after my first dose because I felt that my small act for myself, is also for the greater safety of everyone else and I'd be on the road to connect with friends, family and my godfather who I haven't seen in over a year. Shot number two is on deck for Friday and I'm very much ready!"
4. "In 2020, my husband and I planned to have a baby but once COVID hit, we decided to put that on hold. When we both got out first dose of the vaccine last week, I got emotional because I've been missing my parents a lot but also because this means we can resume family planning with a bit more confidence knowing that we have a layer of protection. Once we are both vaccinated, we are going to start trying again!"
5. "I work in marketing/communications for a hospital. We held a media event when the first shots were given to frontline healthcare workers back in December. I got to witness the first wave of doctors and other care team members who had spent the last several months caring for those in our COVID-19 units. It was humbling, inspiring and uplifting. After watching dozens of doctors line up to receive their shots, I had no doubt in my mind that I would accept the first opportunity to receive a vaccine."
6. "I'm not yet eligible in California. But the other week, my boyfriend got an email at 12:55 about a pop-up clinic run by the county one town over doing walk ups with extra shots. I had just finished a 30 minute spin bike ride, dripping sweat and gross. Ran out the door and got to the site by 1:23pm. We waited in line for two hours not knowing how many shots they had if we'd get one. We both did. I started crying in the parking lot from relief. Seeing family in three weeks for the first time in almost two years."
7. "We flew to Oklahoma (where both my husband and I are from) because my husband is Cherokee and the Cherokee Nation had vaccine availability very early on. We got vaccinated on March 18th and shortly after, they opened up availability to all Oklahomans. I felt really emotional for many reasons, mostly because we have actually stayed home this entire time. But there was also a layer of history that made me feel emotional, grateful and a little guilty. I, a white woman, was vaccinated by a group of people who had every right to withhold their resources or charge for shots and they didn't. It was a really beautiful thing."
8. "I got mine last week at the same hospital, my father-in-law passed away at last year due to COVID. It was almost a year to the date of his death. He got sick in the very beginning of the pandemic and it was so unexpected because we didn't know anything about the virus. It was something positive to think about a year after his death, that in that time a vaccine that could keep us safe was developed and we got to get it. So, so grateful for the vaccine."
9. "I was actually able to get my first shop in January and second in early February. My boyfriend is a teacher and made his appointment at the Javits Center as soon as he was eligible. At the suggestion of a friend, I went to his appointment with him and asked if there was any way I could get one too and they said yes! At first, I didn't tell anyone because I felt like I cheated or somehow took a shot away from others. But after talking to some friends in healthcare, they all reassured me that the goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible and I didn't need to worry. So I've come around now to just feeling very grateful that I had that opportunity a couple of months ago. I feel fortunate that I haven't had to deal with the stress of finding an appointment and proud of the scientists that made it happen. I didn't think I'd be vaccinated until end of summer at the earliest so I'm feeling all the hope and joy that 30% of New Yorkers have had their first shot and that we'll be back to some semblance of normal perhaps sooner than originally expected."
10. "I received my first vaccination in Chicago at Northwestern Hospital. As a pregnant woman with asthma, I have been extremely nervous about the last year. As I was high risk before and now even at a higher risk with my baby. I was having a difficult time deciding if this was the right choice to get vaccinated while pregnant. I've received lots of unsolicited advice, but after my own research and consulting with my doctors, I'm happy I moved forward with my decision. As I sat down to receive my first vaccine, the nurse asked me how I felt to which I replied, "Excited, but nervous because I'm pregnant!" She said she was pregnant and already had both shots. I completely felt my body relax and knew I was making the right choice for me and my family."
11. "Mostly, I was very excited to get the vaccine. As I arrived at the site, I got a bit more nervous. —the only reason being I was hoping I wouldn't have adverse reaction [...] My most memorable moment with the staff was probably when I was talking to the practitioner administering the shot. She asked which arm I preferred and in turn, I asked her which was more popular, if any. She suggested my non-dominant arm because soreness at the injection site is one of the most common side effects. [...] Ever since things shut down, I haven't been able to see my grandmother. Speaking through the phone and email is great, she isn't super into social media and even refuses to get a Facebook but nothing beats giving her a hug and telling her I love her. I can't wait to be fully vaccinated so I can do that again."
12. "I've been struggling with agoraphobia and OCD during this pandemic to the point where it was hard to leave my house. It's a tough position to know you're being mentally "irrational" being afraid to leave the house while simultaneously told to stay at home. This illness got me a vaccine recommendation, outside at a hospital full of people. Two masks, a face shield, gloves and a panic attack later where I was in line at a mass vaccine site waiting in tears, freaked out to be around more people than I had in a year. As soon as the needle was in my arm, it was relief. I literally pictured the sirens that had been on loop in my mind, turning off. Overwhelming gratitude doesn't even begin to describe it."
13. "My grandfather received a life-saving kidney transplant in 2017 and COVID was especially scary for him because of how immunocompromised from he was. My husband is also immunocompromised from his medication for Crohn's disease. We didn't get to see my grandparents at all really in 2020 because of COVID — they live on the other side of the country and were really hunkered down. Well, we had to fly out last month because my grandfather ended up contracting COVID from a home healthcare worker and he ended up passing away. Not even two weeks later, my husband had his first vaccine appointment. I cried so much on the drive because it meant I'd never again have to worry about losing him to COVID the way I lost my grandfather. I prayed every day for this kind of safety and I ended up getting my own first shot on Monday. Every single day I wake up and say something to my grandpa in my head, just a little, "I love you" to fight the survivor's guilt. I am incredibly thankful to be alive and that my husband is safe. This pandemic has finally taken something truly meaningful from me (whatever about social plans or unemployment — I care about our lives more) and losing my grandfather has been the worst thing to ever happen to me. I am so thankful to modern medicine that I will never, ever have to experience that kind of pain of watching him or anyone else I know die of COVID ever again."
14. "I work for a vaccine site, so I see a lot of emotional responses and general faith in humanity kind of thing. Specially during the first few weeks and months, when it was only for seniors and those with underlying conditions. Every day we went to the site, we were thanked for everything we do, you could see people really getting teary eyed while waiting during observation. There was a sense of community and family, too. The craziest and most proof that people want the vaccine and are happy to get it was during one of the snowstorms and icy conditions the next day...we didn't close but we expected a lot of people to cancel. Turns out, out of the 2,000 scheduled, about 1,700 still came! I kind of have mixed feelings about that though because I feel like that also shows desperation. It's been a roller coaster for so many of our county's seniors. I'm a social worker, that's why I work for the vaccine site and the work is not done for making the vaccines more accessible to the most vulnerable people."
15. "My 16 year old, who made her own decision to be vaccinated, had her first dose of Pfizer the other day. I felt such joyful, expansive tears in my heart. Such awe in and gratitude for the scientists, doctors, nurses, volunteers and politicians who made it possible in such a relatively short period of time. I definitely felt the awesome weight of participating in a significant moment in human history. I felt so proud of my "maturing before my eyes" 16 year-old daughter. I felt such warmth and gratitude for the woman who gave my daughter her shot, how clearly and completely she explained the possible side effects and what to do if she experienced them. She was so calm and kind. It was a completely joy-filled experience."
16. "The day I got my first dose felt miraculous. I couldn't believe my family and I had gotten through this — though separately — unscathed. After all of our sacrifice and quiet moments, it felt like a gift and a reward to receive the vaccine. "It's a miracle!" I would shout to everyone; the receptionist, my colleagues and the doctor administering the dose. The feeling I feel now that my loved ones are fully vaccinated is indescribable. I am so grateful to our essential workers, the scientists and those who, like us, sacrificed so much to bring us to this opportunity."
17. "I had an appointment for 11:15pm on a Saturday when the Javits Center was doing Johnson & Johnson overnight. It was the most exciting Saturday night I'd had in a year! I was in sweats but changed into *real pants* and picked a top with easy arm access, washed my hair and put on makeup so the vaccination site staff would see me at my best. I cried more when I made the appointment, but teared up on the way there thinking of how this moment was a culmination of so much hard work by our healthcare and science heroes."
18. "Like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders. Also, felt like a celebrity who just won an award. The nurses/workers at the Long Island City vaccine center were all smiles and some even congratulated me as I exited the site. Overall, grateful."
19. "I've been taking care of my 92 year-old grandmother over the past year while working a full time job. Trying to explain to her what is happening and why we must do certain things but can't do others is a relationship with her I never thought I'd have. It also made me extra careful because I didn't want to get her sick, so I gave up a lot of time with friends (safely), exercising, any sort of personal time because she needed to go for drives. We're both vaccinated and I teared up getting my shot because for the first time, it felt like there would be hope."
20. "I've been struggling career-wise since I graduated college and had absolutely no passion for my job and was (still am) almost every day at work. Having a degree in biology, I've always considered going back to school to be a nurse but never acted on it because it would take too long. After another soul crushing week at work, I got my first vaccine on Friday afternoon and the vibes in the room were so uplifting I could've cried from happiness. The nurse that gave me my vaccine was the same age as me and was incredibly kind and excited to give me my shot. I knew in that moment I had to do what she was doing, not in a lab (I work in pharma) but in real life, helping people. A few weeks ago, when I got my second shot, it was given by the same nurse and I told her how much she inspired me and she started to tear up and I did, too. We've all been through so much the past year and I finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I enrolled in summer school for pre-requisites!"
"It's a great feeling knowing I can finally hug others. Life is too short not to..."
21. "I was able to make appointments for my parents, a few of their coworkers, then eventually my partner and myself! We were lucky enough to have appointments within 15 minutes of each other so we got to the wait together before and after. As we start there in the CVS after our first shot, I swear I could've cried. We just stared at each other in disbelief and pure joy. It really was a life changing moment. There's so much hope now that I have it! Also, I get my second shot tomorrow, a day before my birthday! Best present ever."
22. "I live in Poland where the pandemic hit hard. On top of that, I was pregnant and went to the hospital to give birth during the "hardest" lockdown in my country. So when I heart that they were going to vaccinate teachers (yep, my profession) I was thrilled. However, only working ones and I was on maternity leave...Fortunately, they have changed it and I could take Astrazeneca, maybe not my choice of vaccine but still better than nothing. Currently, I'm 9 weeks after the first shot and it's OK. Waiting for the second dose."
23. "My vaccine experience was pretty boring honestly. I waited in the Walgreens line, got the shot and left. I didn't have side effects outside of a sore arm for a day which I'm grateful for but I was definitely expecting to burst into tears and just...didn't. I think it'll hit me at another time but right now, I almost feel too close for comfort, like someone's going to pull the rug out from under me. Like it's not quite real yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm so grateful and know how lucky I am, but it's more of a quiet appreciation than a big, dramatic feeling."
24. "I volunteer at a local rural vaccination center in the UK and the overwhelming majority feel the same way you and others do — amazement at the efficiency and simplicity of the process, gratitude for being called up to receive theirs and hope for the future. At our center, patients are vaccinated in groups and that makes it feel even more of a shared experience with everyone moving forward together. I feel fortunate to be able to help people take a step closer to their future and to be in a position to contribute towards making sure as many people as possible come out of this alive and healthy."
25. "I'm a city employee (not in healthcare). I did multiple shifts at a city-run vaccination site downtown and got my first shot at the end of my first shift. It was incredibly emotion and rewarding to be vaccinated and also to play a small role in helping a few thousand people get theirs!"
26. "It hit me near the midtown tunnel on my drive home. I saw the NYC skyline and cried."
27. "Drove two hours for the first one. Did it for my mom who didn't make it to see 2021."
28. "It was so surreal!I had to drive 65 miles round trip and I got it in my car. (I live in Georgia.)"
29. "I showed up bra-less and with a thankful heart! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel."
30. "I'm a teacher and when I got my first one, the pharmacist said it had been a fun day because all day she'd only given shots to teachers and everyone was so happy. She celebrated with each of us!"
31. "I screamed to the doctor, "THIS IS A MIRACLE!" and I cried."
32. "As soon as I received the final shot, I started tearing up. I knew the sacrifices, the stress, the death of others and the sorrow in their families. But I didn't realize how much I was grinning until the last shot was done. Over a year of bated breath — an exhale of emotional release."
33. "I teared up when I was waiting in line and then during my 15 minutes waiting time. Hope!"
34. "I didn't want to do it until I decided to fly to visit my sister in the United States so I had do."
35. "It was the best, most reassuring feeling. It felt like progress and one step closer to normalcy."
36. "Shock and giddiness that I finally actually got one!"
37. "A kind volunteer saw that I was pregnant and let me skip the line at my second appointment."
38. "Relieved I will have some freedom during maternity leave since I had zero while I was pregnant."
39. "Surreal, happy, but also kept waiting for the orchestral score or a sunbeam to shine through."
40. "I felt so lucky and grateful in that moment, to make any contribution towards ending this awful pandemic. So many people cannot yet access the vaccine and we are so lucky in America to be able to get it now. I only wish everyone who was eligible would get the shot!"
41. "As a teacher, I felt relief, happiness and a bit of moral superiority."
42. "I cried on the Uber ride to get my first shot. Looking out the window and silently reflecting on everything I'd (we'd) been through this past year. A culmination of everything an overwhelming sense of gratitude and hope! Also, teared up after the nurse was done and put the bandage on. We made eye contact and shared a moment — it felt like a shared victory. So thankful for the work of so many who carried us on their backs through this thing."
43. "At Moscone Center in San Francisco, volunteers were smiling and happy. At the exits, they played pop music and people were dancing and giving socially distanced high fives and elbow hellos. And they said "Congratulations on your vaccination" or "It's a big day." and it felt like a big, happy day indeed. It was a very emotional and inspiring experience (made me want to volunteer but alas, everyone had the same idea and there were no volunteer slots available)."
"Drove two hours for the first one. Did it for my mom who didn't make it to see 2021."
44. "I did not expect to get emotional because I was more excited than anything, but as I was walking up to the Javits Center this morning, I started tearing up. And then when I saw the signs they're scheduled to vaccinate some 9,300 New Yorkers that day, it got me again. I knew returning to NYC was the right thing to do, mainly because I missed it like crazy the last five months, but also because I knew how well they were going to handle the vaccine rollout and today moved like clockwork. In and out in 30 minutes (because of the observation period). I know we will have a long way to go but it feels like there's actually a light at the end of the tunnel now."
45. "I was living in Atlanta and moving to NYC in two days. Alabama opened up eligibility to lawyers and did not have any residency requirements so I found an appointment at a CVS in a very random small town about two hours away for the next day. The nurse and three other people in line were also from Atlanta. I (luckily!) was able to make an appointment for my second dose in NYC at a CVS in Times Square (of all places). It was very surreal. I felt utter excitement getting my first dose but the second felt much more solemn...an eerily quiet Times Square outside but I was surrounded by New Yorkers that lived through an unimaginable year. When the nurse put the bandaid on with a cheerful "Congratulations!" I started to cry. I felt joy, relief, sadness over everyone that didn't make it to this point and such an overwhelming sense of gratitude."
46. "My aunt who heads the general physician department at a state hospital in the suburbs of Chicago worked four weeks straight at one point last year. She finally had a long weekend and the doctor in charge that weekend was diagnosed with COVID and my aunt aunt went back into work for another weekend. Two days off at a stretch was vacation to her. In December, when she got her first shot, I was so relieved for her and her family. Last Tuesday, when I got my first shot, I was excited but so relieved that health care workers have one less person (two including my husband) to worry about. I called my aunt saying I'll visit her this summer and she was so excited, I could hear it her in voice. I can't wait to see this incredible woman."
47. "My parents and I got our vaccines on my dad's birthday — a year later from the day we had our last family celebration together indoors before everything went wrong. I remember we all felt so unsure about things and were trying to get my sister and cousin flights home from London where they were studying. I couldn't believe that exactly a year later we would be getting the vaccine and I definitely didn't realize how much immediate relief it would provide. My parents got their shots before me and as I drove to the clinic, I cried in relief. The past year has been filled with anxiety, especially because I live with my parents right now and never wanted them to get sick, so to know they were safe and protected was the most amazing gift. I am so grateful for everyone who made the vaccines possible and I hope that we can all start living fuller lives again soon!"
48. "I got my vaccination at Javits Center I told the nurse I was nervous and that I get queasy from blood/needles. The doctor came over and suggested laying me down for the shot instead. They changed the conversation while I was getting the shot and were so kind. I lay there for about 10 minutes and the nurse walked me out with a bottle of water and a sticker in my hand! The military was intimidating but the nurses were so kind of another level."
49."I was so grateful to everyone, thanking all the volunteers individually. They were so happy for the gratitude! It was beyond efficient too as everything in Hong Kong is. The gal who gave me my shot complimented me on my perfume and looked it up then and there. Her name is Painsy. I hope I get her again on Monday. She can't get the vaccine because of allergies."
50. "Since January, I've been working a few days a week at several of the NYC-run vaccination sites. My most memorable experience was in the beginning of January when the vaccine was first made available to people 75+. Family after family would carefully and slowly walk their elderly matriarch, patriarch, great aunts and uncles, parents and other loved ones — sometimes with a cane, sometimes locked arm in arm to their vaccine table. Though each family was different, the feeling they emanated after the vaccine was administered was the same — like a thousand pounds of weight was lifted off of each family members shoulders. Their precious and vulnerable loved one was finally protected. We would see hundreds of families in a day and it made the vaccination room (a converted middle school cafeteria) feel overwhelmingly electric with a sense of relief and hope."
51. "I got vaccinated today! It was exciting and I was a little nervous, not about getting it but more about the potential side effects. It was quick, very organized and I definitely was grateful. I also made sure to thank each staff member I came in contact with. And when I sat with my administering nurse, I learned that her name was also Sandy! We chatted about how rate it is to meet other Sandys and before I knew it, I was done."
52. "One memorable moment was that this stab actually bled; the first dose didn't. It was unexpected for both me and the pharmacist who administered the vaccine so we both sort of made the same shocked expression!"
53. "I received an appointment for the Moderna shot in a town about 15 minutes from where I live. I was over the moon while also being nervous — of needles, potential side effects and a feeling of "what if this doesn't work and we continue living this way?" The minute I found out I was getting a Moderna shot (or the Dolly shot), I burst into tears of joy and optimism but also so much gratitude! For those scientists who got us to this point. Those who funded it to this point. The nurses and the staff hosting the vaccine clinics.
For my second dose, I wore sequins. I mean, it only felt appropriate as a tribute to Dolly and a tribute to the hope of a new day ahead. I've never felt more appreciative of modern medicine or universal health care than I did while receiving my second shot."
54. "My vaccine experience was uneventful — Pfizer at JAVax Center — minimum side effects. What was special about the experience were the National Guard personnel stationed there. I thanked each one for their service — they were kind, efficient and thoughtful. I was told there were no stickers left when asked for one. As I was about to leave a young woman — Sargent Giles — came up to me: she had located a sticker since I seemed so disappointed and handed it to me. A small but signifiant act of kindness, which somehow represented "we're all in this together."
Our old handbags are such time capsules, aren't they? Gateways to our past, messengers bearing the odds and ends once upon a time we deemed important enough to carry with us for the day, month, or perhaps, in certain instances, even years. In them, you might find old credit cards you assumed were lost, lipstick shades you once loved, a stray bobby pin or two or, if you're lucky, little hand written notes, reminders for a rainy day that never came (or that guy you never called!). I love cleaning out old bags of mine — they're treasure troves of insights to a yesterday out of reach.
So the other day, as we drove out to Staten Island for our first COVID vaccination shot, I couldn't help but wonder how I might feel on a random Tuesday, in a distant future, when I'm cleaning out a few of the bags I toted around with me during 2020. What might the clues look like? Would I find a spare mask? Perhaps some hand sanitizer? An "I Voted" sticker? Or maybe, just maybe, tucked away as a bookmark in an old poetry book, I'll find my vaccination card — the harbinger of light at the end of a very long and dark year, in which the heroism of brave men and women answered the call to selflessly carry us all on their backs. Of course, we have a long way to go from here, as my future self likely knows all too well, but I like to think as she’s sitting there in this distant daydream future of mine with old bags all around her and 2020 well behind her, she’ll vividly remember exactly how she felt after her first shot — so terribly grateful she could burst.
For all my fellow New Yorkers, be sure to check out the CVS website between midnight and 1am each evening, as they tend to add new appointment slots around this time. Just be patient and keep refreshing! And starting tomorrow, everyone over the age of 16 is eligible — so let's go New York, let's do this!
"Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack, a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in."
~ Leonard Cohen
I remember listening to this Leonard Cohen song — "Anthem"— the day after the 2016 Presidential election, and just a few days after Cohen's passing. There's an introspectiveness and melancholy to Cohen's storytelling through song that always seems to find me when I need it most, in the most unexplained, but welcome ways. Sadly, I've needed Cohen more and more often the past several years. For many reasons, really. And for one reason mainly.
Cohen wasn't known to explain his music often but he did give a rare insight to "Anthem" in a radio interview segment from 1992. Given the horrific crimes we've witnessed this week in Atlanta against our Asian American Pacific Islander community— and in the previous months as well, largely thanks to inflammatory and racist rhetoric from a former United States President, I thought Cohen's words here could help us find our purpose and our courage to keep fighting for the humanity of others. To keep working to let the light in.
"The future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring” they’re few and far between but you can find them.
This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect.
And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together: Physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things."
Like many of you, I am heartbroken, gutted and devastated by the proliferation of hate crimes against our minority communities in this country. And this week's mass shooting, that resulted in the murder of 8 people, 6 of whom, were Asian women is another horrific punch to the stomach. Make no mistake, this was a racially motivated hate crime, no matter how the shooter might explain his "bad day" defense. Which means, I can't even begin to imagine the pain and fear my AAPI friends are going through— to feel unwelcome and unsafe in America, their home.
Sadly, the older I get, the more I realize, there isn't much that surprises me anymore, particularly when it comes to racism in this country. And I hate that it's currently 2021, and that previous sentence is largely true for all of you reading this, too. Racism is an insidious, heinous disease that can yes, explode in the ways we've seen it splashed across headlines, particularly this last year alone. But the even more dangerous thing about racism is that it largely courses through a seedy underbelly, oftentimes undetected or at least, unchecked. Our own history books are a prime example of this, with omissions of important figures, alterations of events or complete falsifying of the truth. All in effort to perpetuate a narrative that supports and upholds systems of white supremacy.
To circle this back with Cohen, I know I may not have the perfect words at all times, but I am committed to standing with those who need me. Because we all need each other. To listen. To learn. To understand. To empathize. To champion. To defend. To love. Until we all receive those basic human rights, until we ALL feel safe, none of us are safe.
If you'd like to dive into ways to get involved or perhaps better understand how we can all take action against hate crimes, particularly in regards to our AAPI communities, I've put together a brief and by no means comprehensive resource list of stats, organizations and charities working to stop Asian hate. Please join me in helping to let the light in.
40% of U.S. adults believe "it has become more common for people to express racist views toward Asians since the pandemic began" (Source: Pew Research)
More than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans were reported between March and May of 2020, according to a United Nations Report (Source: CBS News)
By late April, a coalition of Asian-American groups that had created a reporting center called Stop AAPI Hate, said it had received almost 1,500 reports of incidents of racism, hate speech, discrimination, and physical attacks against Asians and Asian-Americans. (Source: Human Rights Watch)
Create to Stop Hate: If you are or know anyone who is an AAPI artist, brand, creative or maker, this organization is currently looking for submissions to be auctioned off as a means of raising funds for Stop AAIP Hate, the organization I listed above. For questions regarding submissions, head to the @createtostophate Instagram profile for more details.
And as always, if you have any resources you'd like to add to the above list, please do let me know!
I'm not an overly fussy person when it comes to birthdays. In fact, perhaps it's the Pisces in me, but a big celebration in my honor stresses me out just to think about — let alone, plan. Which is why I'll always tend to favor small and intimate gatherings — the unavoidable theme of this past year perhaps for us all, whether we liked it or not.
A few weeks ago, on a cold February Friday, I turned 35. It was a quiet day of heads down work and creative tasks for campaigns I had in flight, followed by dinner and a movie at home with my two favorite guys. It snowed for most of the day, which was the perfect extra excuse I needed to sit at my window as dusk settled, waiting for the glow of the apartment windows around us to pepper the palpably cold darkness outside.
You see, birthdays always bring a heavy dose of introspection for me. That might sound overly despondent, and perhaps it is, but I don't mind it much. The truth is — the further I move along into my 30s, the more comfortable I feel actually sitting with things, reflecting on them, understanding what it is about them that makes me happy and similarly, what it is about them that makes me sad. And this past year, this past trip around the sun? There was plenty to be thankful for, to celebrate, to cherish, to learn from, and yes, there was plenty to mourn as well — each one no more valuable than the other, each one deserving of headspace, especially as I closed out yet another proverbial chapter, in preparation for the next.
In the past, I might have written a pithy collection of 35 things I've learned in 35 years but I have a feeling that's been done many times before. So instead, I'd rather leave you with one particular truth I've come to underscore time and time again and that's a certain Maya Angelou quote that I think applies so beautifully to practically everything: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
As for these photos? Well, let's just say, while I may turn down a big fancy, soirée in my honor, that doesn't mean I'll skip out on dressing up for any and all other occasions, formal or not.
"We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were." ~ Joan Didion
I've been thinking about this Joan Didion quote a lot lately. Particularly in regards to this past year. A year that many of us, I'm sure, would resoundingly say, we will likely never forget. A year that brought deafening silence to our streets. A year that left so much pain and devastation and loss in its wake. A year that, despite our best efforts to stay connected, left us feeling more and more alone by the day. Sometimes by the minute. A year seared into our memories — our lives turned upside down seemingly overnight. To forget it at this point, seems almost impossible. Unthinkable perhaps.
And yet, that's the thing about hard memories, isn't it? They're the first thing you try to block out. To run away from. To avoid. At this stage, I'm not sure where we'll net out when we all reflect back on the year 2020, especially as it becomes a more distant, bad nightmare in the years to come. As someone who is incredibly thankful for the fact she emerged relatively unscathed (for the most part) from the pandemic, with the health of her close friends and family in good standing, it's been a year that's made me vow to myself over and over again the same realization: "I can't ever forget how fortunate I am."
But the same creeping fear returns to whisper back, "You will forget." Maybe that's self-preservation talking. Perhaps it's just lazy convenience. Or maybe it's faulty nerve connections in our brains — age taking its toll as it inevitably does one way or another.
Whatever the reason, everything that follows past this point is a means of reminding myself (and perhaps some of you) for an idle Tuesday down the road, let's say in 2052. A recording of my chapter in New York City at the brink of the strangest year where I witnessed, first hand, the world almost instantly, stop spinning.
March of 2020 for me started off on a hectic note. Fashion week had concluded just a few weeks prior and I had two back to back work trips almost immediately afterward — the first to St. Lucia and the second was a press tour around California. It was a blur of flights, rental cars, taxis and Ubers, early call times and late night dinners, waiting in TSA lines, lugging around overly packed luggage and trying to document it all the while. I vividly remember feeling exhausted in a visceral way, vowing to myself, "I need to take a break from traveling for awhile" not realizing just how ironic that statement would feel over the coming weeks.
Of course, COVID was a very real news story at this point developing around the world, but the murmurings of it potentially locking down the United States didn't feel concrete enough to worry about. Surely, that wouldn't happen here. That couldn't happen here, could it? It wasn't until we were sitting at LAX on March 8, waiting for our final red eye flight home to JFK that it hit me just how deserted the airport was. No crowds. No long check in lines. TSA was a breeze. We sat in the lounge area for Delta, sipping coffee and reviewing headlines. Our flight was eerily empty. Even the crew carried themselves in a way that felt like they knew something we didn't. Something palpable felt looming in the air. I closed my eyes at takeoff and reminded myself, "You'll be home soon."
That week back in New York felt oddly calm at first, now that I think about it. I fell back into work, prepping for projects, editing photos for brand review, riding a packed subway around the city for meetings. Life was still beating along as it always does, as it always had. I was scheduled to host a brand event here in the city on March 12, a little soirée uptown on Madison Avenue. In a flurry of text messages, I was reminding my friends of the details for the event, letting them know how much I was looking forward to seeing them. We joked back and forth about picking up extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer, not truly seeing the tsunami wave that was about to hit us all.
On Wednesday March 11th a day before my event, the NBA announced their cancellation of the 2020 season until further notice. Around that time, NYC had over 700 confirmed cases of COVID, rising each day and schools were slated to close, with NYC restaurants, bars and businesses to follow soon after. I distinctly remember sitting in Fairfax, one of my favorite restaurants in the village where I often work, texting my manager, "We need to cancel tomorrow's event, right?"
Looking up and around at the restaurant I was working from, I started to wonder, "Should I even be here? Is this safe? How can I tell if I'm actually 6 feet from the patrons next to me?" If I'm being completely honest, had I known that would have been my last time in a restaurant for many, many months, I think I'd relish it a bit more. Perhaps order that indulgent burger on the menu as opposed to the salad. Maybe ask for that cocktail, instead of the green tea. I suppose a part of me still believed, as I'm sure we all did in those initial weeks, this will pass. Give it some time and things will be back to normal soon.
I sent out a mass text to everyone I had invited to my party, letting them know the event was canceled and that I wanted them all to stay safe and stay at home. The tone was very much "This is crazy but I'll see you soon."
I packed up my laptop, settled my bill with the waiter and walked home. It was an usually warm March day and I had a craving to sit out on my fire escape. So I did, blissfully unaware that same fire escape would largely become my window to the world for the better part of the next 365 days to follow. That night, my boyfriend and I placed an online grocery delivery order, somewhat encouraged by the idea of trying to cook more at home — a goal we typically failed at thanks to Seamless — and settled in for the night. Two homebodies not necessarily upset at the prospect of a now very clear social calendar.
Of course, the weeks, and subsequent months that followed were unlike anything this homebody anticipated. How could I? How could any of us? Those initial weeks in March and April were hardest for me. I'd wake up each day, tune in for Gov. Cuomo's daily Coronavirus briefings and try to make some sense of our new reality. The numbers were staggering. PPE was scarce. Hospital beds were limited. And here I was, living in the U.S. epicenter of it all. Miles away from my family. Scared to go outside. Or be near anyone. With work contracts indefinitely pushed back, some altogether canceled, I wasn't sure how my business would ultimately fare through this storm.
Outside, the city hibernated, streets and avenues where life usually bustled, now lay dormant, except for the constant echoing of an ambulance siren piercing the March sky. I know I'm not alone when I say it was a living nightmare. None of us knew what each day would bring, in big and small ways. And that anxiety was downright crippling at times.
To cope, I threw myself into creative outlets — photography, writing, editing — but when the weight of the world forces you into a bubble of your own making, it's only a matter of time before those outlets don't fuel you in the same way they used to. But then again, what option did we have? The stakes were too high. So we persisted on.
I'd like to pause here and remind my future self in 2052, that 2020 held a lot of promise, as well. Some silver linings that showed us our true strength, our connections, our resilience. Some unexpected outcomes of solidarity and commitment. Some big and small blessings and yes, some hard, long overdue reckonings that showed us just how broken and fractured our society really is. In a lot of ways, 2020 opened our eyes and hearts to insidious social injustices that had been persisting for far too long. I can't definitively say 2020 was the catalyst, but I do think it played a pivotal role in helping us truly see and recognize our own humanities and those of others.
I never want to forget that. Moreover, we can't forget that.
I titled this post "memories of your last normal day" for a reason — not so much for us to yearn for a time before this all happened, but more so as a reminder as to what's at stake if we forget about the 365 days that followed that last normal day. In order for us to return to some semblance of life as knew it, we have to honor the price we paid over the course of 2020. And my friends, that price was high. Extremely high.
"We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."
Perhaps Didion is right. She often is. Perhaps to forget is just a part of human nature. And maybe that's the inevitable thing we have to fight here, with every ounce of our being. We have to remind ourselves of who and what we used to be, what we went through, what we overcame, whether we liked it or not, or we're predestined, doomed even, to wrestle with it at 4am maybe in the year 2052, when our mind goes wandering.
So in the spirit of remembering, here's a sampling of your last "normal day" memories that you shared with me on Instagram. May their recounting be a harbinger for brighter days ahead. For brighter days for us all.
I went to the pub. We hung out all afternoon in the sun.
I went to a department store that was closing that day to buy things for my daughter's 21st birthday in June! I never thought we'd still be in lockdown then three months later.
I was in Cozumel, checking the news before snorkeling and realized we would return to a lockdown.
We had a family game night.
I ate tacos while overlooking the city with my best friend of 25 years. It was damn near perfect.
I saw my five day old niece and then didn't see her for three months even though I only lived 5 miles away.
Unfortunately, I can't remember.
I went out with friends in the Mission (in San Francisco) thinking we'd see each other in two weeks.
I went to dinner with a girlfriend at Hillstone (in NYC) because we joked it might be our last meal out.
It was actually my birthday! I went out for a dinner at a crowded restaurant with family.
Peeking through my curtains to see if there was a free seat at my favorite spot across the street.
I remember standing on the train platform and thinking how gorgeous the weather was!
I went out with a friend for some sushi at a Japanese food center in London and then for a glass of wine.
Family style dinner with 8 girlfriends sharing dishes and drinks and laughs.
My daily 200 mile commute for work, 100 miles each way.
My husband and I used to go to the movies a lot, our last one was March 10th. We saw Emma.
Celebrated my birthday and met strangers while out dancing at a crowded bar.
A packed Trader Joe's with my mom, mask-less. Received an email recommending we work from home.
I went on a date for the first time in two years -- we then virtually dated all quarantine.
Happy hour with coworkers and a venue tour for my 12/21 wedding. I thought I was planning ahead.
Spent hours wandering through the National Art Gallery in DC.
I was at school. The last day with the kids.
I remember my students being very excited that school was going to be canceled. How naive we were.
I saw Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall.
Now tell me, what memories do you have of your last "normal" day?
It's a conscious and deliberate decision to wake up each day and seize the beautiful. To sing the beautiful. To craft the beautiful. To narrate, to shape, to mold, to speak truth to the beautiful. Not so much in expensive things or grand buildings or what your hair looks like on a given day, although those things are wonderful in their own right, but it's in the quiet in between moments, too. Perhaps even more so. The imperfect moments. The humbling moments. The no-one-is-looking-and-perhaps-no-one-is-noticing moments. The moments that don’t garner a social currency online. Seize those. And run with them. Run and don't look back, until your appetite for them becomes so second nature it's like breathing or reaching for your morning coffee or better yet, a Friday night glass of wine.
For the better part of the past 11 years or so of running This Time Tomorrow, I've always wanted this idea to be the forefront of my content, that being the pursuit of beauty. And certainly not in the conventional way we're trained to think of beauty. To me, beauty is so much more than how you put yourself together or how expensive your wardrobe totals out to be — and it's not a blessing only bestowed on the young and seemingly wrinkle-free. And I freely admit that as someone who has had to spend years retraining herself to see beauty through a different lens. Through a multi-faceted lens. Through a wider lens.
And that's what I hope to do for you here on This Time Tomorrow. To encourage you to see, to craft, to seek out the beautiful in your every day, no matter what it looks like. To appreciate a beautiful dress just as much as a beautiful, historic building. To appreciate the craftsmanship of an investment bag just as much as the craftsmanship of a captivating documentary, memoir or photograph. To appreciate the beautiful bodies we're all given as well the minds we have the privilege of cultivating. Both need attention and care and in my opinion, celebration.
Simply put — beauty is in the everyday details, if we just take the time to slow down, stop scrolling and truly notice.
I've felt pretty strongly the past few years that I want this site to be about far more than just a conversion rate. Personally, I don't want my "internet legacy" to depend solely on how much I encouraged you to buy at my recommendation. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I would much prefer I played a role in encouraging you to take that disposable income and invest it wisely — stocks, real estate, education instead. It'll serve you far better and far longer, I promise.
So when it came down to writing a succinct manifesto for this new chapter, this new look that you now see for This Time Tomorrow, I kept coming back to this notion of substance. These days, I feel empty if there isn't an emotional substance to what I'm consuming or creating and my sincere hope is that you feel nourished in some way after visiting my site. Whether that's through an outfit you'd like to emulate with items in your own closet, a beautiful location with an equally arresting story behind it, a trip that inspires a cultural curiosity in you or perhaps, it's in the storytelling itself — getting lost in the words and visuals. Whatever the reason, I hope there's something that grabs you here, shakes you gently by the shoulders and whispers, "Let's get lost in the details together."
With that — I just want to say, welcome (or welcome back) to This Time Tomorrow — the discerning soul's destination for all things style and substance. I'm so honored to have you here. I hope you stay a while.
4minute read4minute read Rainy days at home, working on my couch as Elvis snores at my feet. Old photography books (just picked up a 1980 copy of Diana Vreeland's Allure). Falling asleep to soft classical music.
...I remember one particular evening walking home from the bus stop in San Francisco, after a long day at work.
At the time, as my long-time readers may recall, I had just started working at Google, after a lengthy acquisition transition from my previous role at a start up, where we spent several months prepping for said acquisition interviews. I look back at those start up months before ending up at Google as some of the hardest of my early 20s. To make a long story short, it was a toxic work environment. I was worried about meetings all the time. I didn't eat well. I was staying up all night working on presentations for meetings the following morning, usually with a Diet Coke next to me in bed. Come to think of it, my first grey hairs happened around this time frame, which to a 24-year old, that was nearly apocalyptic. In a lot of ways, it feels like a lifetime ago. In other ways, I can still feel the heat flushing my face as I got up at 6am, realizing I was about to dread every minute of work that day.
I know what you're thinking...dramatic much? So let's fast forward to this evening in question.
I had just gotten off the Google shuttle, walking back downhill from Alamo Square toward a studio apartment in Hayes Valley that I loved. I can't tell you the specifics about that day -- what I was wearing, what show I was perhaps excited to watch at the time or what I was about to make for dinner. But I remembered feeling overwhelmingly happy. And I don't mean in the sense "I had a good day so I'm happy," happy, although from what I can remember, I did have a good day. No, this happiness was different -- I was very acutely aware during that walk home, of how happy I was with my life at that moment. From my boyfriend at the time, to my new-found work-life balance at Google, from the creativity I was feeling in both my professional and personal spheres to living in a new city that excited me every day. All the factors combined made me realize, in an almost existential, out of body way, how happy I was with how my life was coming together at that particular moment in time. I remember smiling on the way home, hopeful that I'd be able to maintain some semblance of this inner peace for years to come.
Naturally, over the course of the 10 years that followed that day, I've been extremely fortunate to have many bouts of similar happiness, both while I worked at Google and especially after I decided to leave to commit myself full-time to this corner of the internet that so many of you have afforded me the opportunity to make a living off of. On the flip side, I've had many phases where the opposite has been true -- running a small business is extremely rewarding, but running a small business where the platforms, algorithms and business objectives of big companies change every quarter, every week, every day(!), is just downright exhausting no matter how hard I try to adapt in my own way. To compound that, throw in the storm that is 2020 and it was only inevitable that I'd find myself in a prolonged state of feeling, for lack of a better word, defeated.
Before I share why I've been feeling defeated, I just wanted to underscore that I don't share any of this lightly or without the understanding that I know I'm extremely fortunate, especially given how much 2020 has brought. By all accounts, I'm healthy. My family is healthy. At the moment, I still have work to keep me somewhat busy and afloat. And I have an extremely supportive partner, who I love and feel infinitely closer to because of this pandemic. In the grand scheme of things, I know my experience pales in comparison to what so many people, in this country and around the world, are battling day after day -- so why can't I shake this negativity? Why can't I chase away these rain clouds? And moreover, how dare I assume my situation warrants attention at all -- which is where my guilt knocks on the door to join the already crowded pity part and I just want to dive under a pile of blankets and hide.
I suppose my overall hope in sharing this post today is simple. I don't want sympathy. Or advice. And I don't have tips to share on how I'm combatting these feelings just yet (because I'm still in the process of sorting that out). No, mainly I just want to remind whoever is reading this and feeling something similar at the moment, that you're certainly not alone. And despite what the internet might lead you to believe, we're all going through something -- big and small. My experience isn't meant to negate or diminish the importance of yours. And vice versa. That's the blessing and the curse of the human experience, right? With any luck, as I'm trying to remind myself now as I type this, the bad passes eventually. Pivot moments happen. Rain clouds clear. And we get on with it. My hope for you is that you can remember that when it gets dark and you don't know how to move forward -- light will come and your feet will move, one in front of the other. As they always find a way to do.
The world feels terribly uncertain
If ever there was an understatement for the year of 2020 it would be that it was full of uncertainty. We're practically riding wave after wave of uncertainty at this point -- which is, by itself, the only certainty this year has brought. As my boyfriend pointed out last night during dinner, I started my blog over 11 years ago, in the midst of the global financial crisis with zero idea of what the future had in store for me. Ironically enough, things feel somewhat full circle at the moment in that I'm on a career path that I'm not sure how to navigate forward during a time where the economy is volatile at best.
As a very emotionally charged Pisces, I'm empathetic to a fault. I absorb the energy around me -- the good and the bad -- taking it on sometimes, as if it were my own. Over the years, I've gotten better at filtering this and deflecting when I need to, but ever since March hit, it's gotten increasingly harder and harder every day. Especially as the news cycles churn out scary headlines left and right and the concept of time has both slowed down immensely and sped up at a frightening pace. My focus has felt jilted in a lot of ways, and while I was able to hone in creatively during much of the lockdown for work, I'm feeling a new troubling undercurrent rise up as it pertains to my career, which brings me to my next point.
Work feels terribly uncertain
This "undercurrent" I mentioned isn't necessarily spurred because of the pandemic. If anything, it's been festering for quite a while before hand. For the past year or so, I've struggled with defining it. Mainly because, in a lot of ways, it's contradictory. On one hand, I feel the most fulfilled with the visual content I've been creating lately -- from a photography stand point, from a storytelling standpoint, from a styling standpoint. And yet, at the same time, I feel the most resentment toward it, too -- mainly because of the platform vehicles I rely on to disseminate that content (ahem, Instagram) feel more and more limited reach wise. I won't bore you all with my gripes about the algorithm and analytics, as a sad, tiny violin plays in the background. At the end of the day, I'm aware of all the different "tips" I could heed as it pertains to "winning" at the Instagram game. But somewhere along the way of this past year, I've realized I don't know if I'm cut out for this game anymore. I don't enjoy making TikTok style, match-cut videos. I'm not an over-sharer when it comes to a lot of the inner details of my life. And perhaps it's the onset of my mid 30s, but I feel less and less inclined to spend hours rounding up links of what to buy on Amazon or the Nordstrom sale.
I don't say any of that to demean that work. Because it is admirable work. And I respect when content creators approach it thoughtfully and with intention. It's just not me. I think I miss certain aspects of the internet circa 2009/2010 that didn't feel all-consuming, all day long. I'm the same introvert I was back in college and as much as I've tried to "showcase" my online persona in recent years, it doesn't come naturally to me. Which is why I've thrown myself into trying to create aspirational content -- beautiful imagery with what I hope have been thought-provoking captions and posts. Something to make you stop, think and in some way or another, feel inspired to carry that notion into your own life.
What I'm starting to find is perhaps I've either fallen short in that pursuit or there isn't much appetite for it in the first place. I'm fine with either answer. I'm just trying to figure out what that means for my next step, where this corner of the internet isn't my sole income source. Bottom line: I'm definitely at a crossroads. And I'm not sure I know what road I want to turn on from here.
I miss my family
Like many you, I haven't seen my family since Christmas. Admittedly, I don't make it back west multiple times throughout the year, so there's nothing terribly out of the ordinary with that statement. But ever since March, I've had this anxiety-ridden fear in my gut that I wasn't sure when and if I'd be able to see them this coming holiday season as I would normally plan to. Suddenly, I was faced with this fear of feeling helpless in the face of the pandemic, as it pertained to my parents and their health. I miss them. I miss my sister. And I hate not knowing when I can see them next. When I can hug them next. When I can tell them to their face that I love them.
Elvis has cancer
For various reasons, I've put off sharing this information, but mainly because, I was in shock for a long time. His diagnosis came rather unexpectedly during a routine checkup back at the end of May. It knocked the wind out of my lungs when our vet called me to say, "Do you have a moment to chat about Elvis?" Swollen lymph nodes led to a biopsy and eventually to a positive lymphoma diagnosis, followed by a dark and sad spiral of feeling so helpless at a time where I already felt pretty helpless. Now, in light of everything going on, I felt like I was about to lose my best friend of 7 years, my side kick who had seen me through good times and bad times, cross country moves, broken hearts and countless ugly cries, always calming me with an earnest lick on the cheek where tears had been.
I didn't share at the time, again mainly because my approach to sharing extremely personal things like this on the internet is to sit and BE with them for a moment. I had to process on my own. And with Ty and the advice of our doctors. Further compounded by the long overdue resurgence of the BLM movement that was happening at roughly the same time, my news felt terribly tone deaf. Far more important stories needed the mic and the airtime. And they still do.
Fast forward to today, and we're already several months into chemotherapy. Elvis is responding extremely well to the treatments -- and in fact, has already achieved remission! I temper that statement with a reality that I've had to accept since the end of May -- statistically speaking, most dogs with lymphoma, even after successful chemotherapy, will relapse at some point. An ideal outcome is to get 2 more years post diagnosis to fill with happy memories for them and for you. And believe me, that is what I intend to do for Elvis. For as long as I can.
Wrapping this novel up...
All of this very long-winded post is to say: if you're feeling uncertain, uncomfortable, defeated and lost right now or even just a sliver of any of those feelings combined, please know, I see you. I really do. You're not alone. And while I could go into a long list of rational tips on how to combat those feelings, I know sometimes the simple thing that makes me feel infinitely better, is knowing there's someone else who's going through it as well. That and writing it all out -- 2,000 words later and I feel like I've gotten a good weight off my chest. I sincerely hope this post doesn't come across as ungrateful and whiny -- I was merely hoping to provide a sense of camaraderie at a time when I think we could use it most.
Truthfully, I keep thinking about the girl I was 10 years ago on that early fall day in 2010, walking home from the bus stop and how painfully happy she felt! Despite the bitterness 2020 might have instilled in me thus far, I still know deep down, I'm capable of feeling that way again. I just have a bit of work to do to get back there.