Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have to make hard decisions—or at least that’s my justification for U-Hauling with a girl I’d been dating for only three and a half weeks.
Of course, we didn’t just fall for each other and hop in a moving truck. We’d been dating for almost a month when I—a health and wellness journalist—realized that things were about to get much worse for New York City amid COVID-19. So I told my now-girlfriend that our choices were to shack up or go without seeing each other for a really long time, with the opportunity to get Masterclass-level good at sexting.
We had a few long conversations about pros and cons, lifestyles, boundaries, and how it would work if she moved in with me. “Is it the right choice?” she asked. “I don’t know, if I’m being honest,” I told her. I thought back to a recent phone conversation I’d had with my therapist about the risks of moving in together and if it would be healthy to start a new relationship in wake of all of this chaos and in such close quarters. After a pause, I said to her: “But the only way to find out is if we do it.”
Then, in an extremely queer move, she packed her bags, grabbed her groceries, some of her favorite books, and a guitar, and took a Lyft across Brooklyn to move into my apartment with my roommate and me. Over the last month, we’ve worked on establishing a healthy dynamic: We spend most of our days apart, with me working on articles in my living room, and her recipe researching or reading in my room. At night, we come back together to watch a movie and cook, and then we talk in bed until we fall asleep. Since she’s a professional baker, she also spends a lot of time whipping up sweet snacks. I cook dinner, she makes dessert. It’s a balanced relationship.
Despite the fact that, under non-pandemic circumstances, I would never move in with a partner this quickly, everything feels like it’s going well. The most hilarious part to me, perhaps, is that, at the beginning of our relationship, I could not stop listening to “Share Your Address” by Ben Platt, and constantly joked about how it was an anthem for queer folks like me trying hard to be realistic and not U-Haul. Well, Ben Platt, you win because, two months later, here we are, sharing an address. (And yes, I realize this is a privilege during this time, when many people are separated from their partners and loved ones.)
After scrolling my Twitter timeline and talking with friends, I was happy to learn that I wasn’t the only person who U-Hauled with my girlfriend. In the wake up all of panic and uncertainty about the future, many couples decided to—prematurely, perhaps—shack up.
Brooklyn-based couple Alex, a 27-year-old nonbinary trans man, and Chava, a 26-year-old queer nonbinary person, had been together for less than six months. But in the first week of March, when COVID-19 was ramping up, they realized it was likely going to be all or nothing. Though they lived in different Brooklyn neighborhoods—and had roommates and pets to consider—Alex packed his bags and showed up at Chava’s, along with his dog, Trophy.
“We knew we’d want to bunker down together, that part was never a question,” Alex tells me.
Chava agrees. “It seemed kind of like a given,” she says. “One of my favorite things about our relationship has always been how easy it is to see a shared future. Before the pandemic, we knew we wanted to move in together, so it just became a question of whose apartment we would social distance in. As the person with one roommate instead of three, it was easy to choose mine. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get through this without him, and wanted to shelter in place together. Luckily, he felt the same way.”
When they found out about the PAUSE issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Alex made one final trip home to grab more clothing and his guitar.
Since moving in together, they find a balance between giving each other space and hanging out, with Alex working remotely as a legal pro-bono scholar during the week and Chava taking classes online for law school.
“During the week, I’m working remotely and Chava is still taking classes,” Alex says. “We tend to sit in different rooms while we work and then take a lunch break together and do dinner later. We’re also both still enjoying our separate hobbies. I’ll play guitar while she tries out different makeup styles, or I’ll watch a scary movie while she bakes something. We also have to go outside to take the dog out twice a day, so we’ll sometimes do that together or separately, and either way, it can be a nice break from the routine.”
Meanwhile, in Dallas, Jay, a 25-year-old lesbian, and her partner Yvette, a 32-year-old, have only been together for four months, but spent all of their free time together pre-COVID-19. Before the pandemic, Jay was over at Yvette’s house four to five times a week. Both Jay and Yvette work in health care, so both were worried about contracting the virus. When the couple realized how quickly and seriously things were escalating, they figured it would be best to isolate at Yvette’s place, as they both had to continue working and didn’t want to put Jay’s roommates in danger.
“When it all started, it was a weekend which we usually spend together anyways. Then the news hit and they started closing schools, nonessential businesses, and then it just sort of happened. We realized we wanted to do this together,” Yvette says. Similarly to Alex and Chava, there was no question about moving in, despite how little time they’ve been dating. “Jay is my best friend, and we work well together. We make a good team.”
Though they’re understandably anxious about the state of the world, they’ve found no trouble communicating or finding adequate time apart. “We have always been really good about communicating what we need and feel to each other, and even though we are isolated to the apartment, there will be times when I’m working on school, while she works on her car or something, so we naturally find our own space when we need it,” Jay says, adding, “Our time together has been very fun so far though. We have been cooking, having Nerf wars, and binging so much Drag Race. I’m very comfortable around her and we are always trying to make each other laugh.”
“We only spend a few entire days together. But we communicate really well and openly, so I feel like we can handle any curveball,” Yvette says.
While it’s clear that the stress of the outside world is breaking many of us down right now, and making joy and hope feel sparse, it’s also clear that queer love is thriving. These LGBTQ U-Hauled couples—including myself—are working on boundaries, self-care, and loving their partners. And when the rest of the world feels like a disaster, what’s more wholesome than that?
It’s impossible to know how my own U-Haul endeavor will turn out. But, as Ben Platt sings, “I know it’s too soon, too fast, but this could last, I wanna share your address.”