Letters From Lockdown 40: Abigail Howe

I know why we’ve got to do this; it still feels stupidly, childishly unfair. It’s not what either of us want. Right now, we’re meant to be saying goodbye again for another term of late-night video calls and occasional train journeys. We’re meant to be reminiscing about all the time we spent together, all the things we did. And I know that it’s far worse for so many people and, really, I shouldn’t be complaining. It just doesn’t feel right not having you here.

But this is an opportunity too. We’re having to be inventive with contact – the monotony of day-to-day life stuck inside means that we’re having to change up our regular conversation. When we get into set routines, asking how your day was gets old quickly. Instead, we’ve discovered a new love for Netflix Party – re-watching Brooklyn 99 is rewarding when I’ve got you chatting in the corner of my screen! Birthday presents are dropped off on doorsteps (and only opened once the giver is a safe distance of at least two metres away).

I have to admit to feeling sparks of jealousy when I see friends isolating with their partners but that’s simply not possible for us. We must play with the cards we’ve been dealt. I’d rather take extra precautions and not see you if that means that everyone stays safe. I know that’s your perspective too. But it’s still hard when all we want is a hug or to really talk or to cook dinner together. Something simple. Something that I hope can be commonplace one day.

Being long-distance is easier when you’ve got a set date when you can see each other. We’ve learned that during our time together – scheduling calls, arranging dates and counting down the days. Having to apply the same strategy when there’s twenty minutes’ drive between our homes wasn’t expected. At least it’s something we’ve worked on before. It’s hardly a skillset I expected to be useful – but I’ll take what I can get. Although it’s easy to be jealous of friends isolating with partners, I feel desperately sorry for couples who are normally close (planning on travelling to see each other over the holidays and not anticipating a remote term) and are suddenly having to acclimatise to a new way of dating. So, despite how easy it is to feel alone at the moment, I’m focusing on how lucky I am to have you – even if it’s virtual!

As soon as this is over, your ribs are going to be crushed with the intensity of all the hugs I’ll give you. The tough thing is not knowing when that’ll be possible. Until then, I love you.

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