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Remote Work Gave Us a Life Together. Now What?

  • September 24, 2021

Two weeks later, my boss texted: “Pack your stuff. We’re shutting the office down Monday.”

I called Matt to say, “We’re coming.”

It rained the day I left California, the scary kind that sets off mudslides and makes Californians drive like the road is covered in black ice. I left after work and drove until I couldn’t anymore as rain turned to sleet on I-40, rushing off the backs of hundreds of semi-trucks and slamming into my windshield, blurring the road.

Once on this drive, I ran out of gas only eight miles west of Seligman, Ariz. It was 2 a.m., and I called Matt. An hour later, a tow truck showed up, and I limped into the Chevron station, frightened and tired.

This time, I refilled the tank more often than necessary and took pictures of the cheeky virus prevention signs at rest stops (“Wash your hands like you’ve just got done slicing jalapeños for a batch of nachos and you need to take your contacts out.”) In Flagstaff, I slept in the Whole Foods parking lot and woke up to snow.

When I finally got to Matt’s place the next day, he was a mess, doomscrolling himself into an unprecedented state of anxiety, too worried even to hug me. For better or worse, he always has been able to maintain some distance from difficult emotions, but in this case, they’d come crashing through. We talked about it, the way the news was making him feel like he had no control, and eventually some of the anxiety abated.

Months passed as it gradually became clear I wasn’t going back to California anytime soon. Amid the mask mandates and choropleth hospitalization maps, we settled into something we’d never had: a life together.

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