Of the many challenges couples experience, no one could have predicted that a pandemic would shift long-term relationships to long-distance relationships.
For Judy and Kenny, who both live in the same town but don’t live together, their ten-year bond as a couple remains strong. Like many other romantic relationships, they’ve had to adjust to the new normal of social-distancing.
Judy, an artist living in Palm Desert, says she’s very cautious. She wears a mask every day and uses her art to communicate to memorialize a time we’ll never forget.
Her boyfriend Kenny is isolating alone, just miles away, and has been writing to get through the loneliness during the pandemic.
As they near their 10th anniversary together, their frustration lies in the fact that they haven’t been able to embrace each other while quarantining apart.
One day in March, Judy decided to create a sketch of her and Kenny, sitting six feet apart, and she posted it on Facebook and Instagram.
The response was so positive that she decided to launch a series of drawings about what life is like in self-isolation. The result is “6 Feet Apart – COVID-19 Daily Sketches.”
I was so taken by Judy’s work of art, so I reached out to chat with both of them in a 3-way phone call.
“I want people to see what life is like in self-isolation, and it feels wonderful to do it,” says Judy. “The art has its own force.”
Although they’ve started to see each other once or twice a week, they’ve cautiously maintained the recommended social distance and wore masks for protection. A hug or a kiss was out of the question, and Judy feels frustrated on these “dates” because there’s no place to go.
What’s Your Caption?
The two play a daily game, where Judy creates the sketch, and before posting them, they both suggest a caption for each drawing. “It’s a lot of fun, and gives us a few laughs,” explains Kenny.
Each caption includes the message: #6FeetApart – Posting one sketch a day until we are together again.
Kenny’s favorite sketch is the Jelly Belly, showing a COVID-18 compulsive eating disorder. This drawing reflects a stomach full of jelly beans.
One of Judy’s favorites is the fortune cookie, where there’s a broken cookie with a message that says, “you will be OK.”
“We had fun with this one selecting captions,” says Kenny.
Tomorrow will be a better day, and if not, there’s always a fortune cookie.
“Someday, these sketches will reflect what happened,” says Judy.
To stay connected, Judy and Kenny talk every morning when they get up, and again at the end of the day. “There aren’t two hours a day that we don’t talk by phone or text,” says Kenny.
Since they always spent weekends together, they met for coffee last weekend, which was a nice break, but for Judy, she said the hardest thing is they can’t hug, kiss, or hold each other, and she describes their relationship as a very touchy-feeling couple.
In the middle of the pandemic, the Coachella Valley was hit with an earthquake. Judy memorialized this solo experience in her drawing that day.
For Kenny, he feels like the relationship is starting all over again. “I don’t know what the future holds,” says Kenny. “We are having dinner on Saturday night in Judy’s backyard, a first.”
“Kenny will come over, and he’ll sit at one end of the patio table, and I’ll sit at the other,” explains Judy. It will be the first time they’ll be having dinner together in two months, and they will be seated eight feet apart, without masks.
They’re taking baby steps, but until the coast is clear, she’ll continue to create a daily sketch until they’re together again.
I’m Julie Spira, and I’m the founder of Cyber-Dating Expert. I created Love in the Age of COVID-19 to help couples keep love alive during quarantine. Follow @JulieSpira on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and submit your Love During Quarantine Stories.