Sharing a special announcement

I was one of the first to start lockdown by myself in Seattle. My workplace was the first to send people home. Home for me was in Canada, and they closed the border so I couldn’t get home.

Throughout the lockdown, I didn’t leave the apartment and I didn’t touch a real person. When I told my neighbour that I wanted to jump out the window after being alone for so many weeks, he laughed. He’d just returned from vacation.

On the last day that flights were running, I packed my suitcase and flew to Boston. I moved in with Penelope’s family so we are five people in a one bedroom apartment. Her ex-husband moved in with us to quarantine. We live between the Cripps and Bloods territories in a gentrified neighbourhood.

We celebrate Passover and birthdays. They have an untuned Essex upright piano where some high notes are twangy but satisfying and we play impromptu piano concerts between the three pianists. Once, we had a week-long debate over how to get perfect pitch, with the person who’s tone deaf.

Eventually the landlord figures out that we were five people in a tiny apartment so I move into a studio apartment down the hallway. Penelope and one of her sons come to sleep in the same apartment so I don’t get kidnapped by mice.

I tell Pan everyday about the adventures I am having and the secret spots that I have discovered. I tell Pan I can’t wait to show him the old brick buildings. I tell Pan that there are bike rentals right in front of the building so we can explore all of Boston on bikes if we wanted.

I start to worry that I’m missing summer. I’m missing the seven-day camping trip I’d planned with Marinah.

I try to text my sister. She never remembers to text back on the same day. Marinah is always busy when I call.

No one can figure out why I’m in Boston. They tell me to come to Vancouver. They ask why I abandoned my apartment. I say that I didn’t want to be alone in Seattle. They don’t see how incapable of being alone I am. Pan can’t drive to visit across the country. The border is closed.

Pan and I talk everyday. I report on the broken glass I step on and who’s shooting drugs by the train station. I comment on teenaged boy cologne and drops of yellow around the toilet. Pan tells me that he learned to clean from someone who’d rather clean her house than be with her kids.

When I catch coronavirus, I’m scared to never see Pan again. He’d never know that I died. He would just stop hearing from me one day.

I try to call my mom. We call every few days until she begins to tell me what she thinks about my life again. She comments that buying a mattress was wasteful. I say that my back would hurt to sleep on the ground. She says I’m a baby when I’m sick.

Penelope fixes things for me. She charts my goals so I look like I’m holding things together. Going somewhere in life. Her mattress is in front of the fridge because we couldn’t figure out a good spot for her bed. The pieces of bedframe she ordered are dark wood and laying around the apartment. We talk until the early mornings about how I can be better at work. Then for a while I would wake her up at 8am to go on a bike ride. We have a routine.

Then, I take a Friday off to go surfing. I need at least one nature trip every month. Our routine ends.

I’m doing a lot to distract myself. If I distract myself, then I don’t think too hard about my loneliness. At least I am physically around other people, now.

But I miss Pan.

One night, I call Pan. It’s midnight for him. He’s been sleeping. I ask him to marry me. I ask him to come to Boston.

He says no. He says, not like this. He planned a proposal and a party and he planned to get my sister and Marinah there. He was going to buy a ring. We talked about how it could happen.

I tell him that I don’t need all that. I just need him. He says okay, let’s get married.

The next day, he sends me information on how to get married during covid. He calls City Halls across Canada. He says we could get married in Toronto so my sister can be there.

Penelope helps me pick a dress and shoes. At first, she suggests that we try dresses at Target because it’s the only dress store open. But we decide that a Target dress is not a dress for someone who’s getting married unless they’re on Extreme Cheapskates. So we hunt all night for a white dress. We order the same dress in three sizes from Macy’s. I get my soft fluffy towels and blankets from Macy’s, so a dress can’t be that far off. That’s what I tell myself.

Pan’s parents who are divorced can’t decide who’s going to the wedding. We tell them that we’re not picking a parent. We uninvite both of them until we have a ceremony date.

My mom is not coming to the wedding. She can’t watch me marry someone who’s a different ethnicity.

Pan quits his job. Now we are in Toronto trying to get married.

They won’t let us book a date until I’ve quarantined for 14 days. The government calls me every other day. There is news that says that the US border is closed to certain visa holders. I am worried about my visa.

We tell everyone that this is just for logistics so we can be together in Boston. I can’t tell who would care if I’m married. We tell ourselves that next year when covid calms down, we will have a proper wedding party and invite everyone. His aunt tells him that he would like Boston a lot.

Things are crazy. I’m trying to keep my job and book a wedding date and get my hair and dress.  

But everything is already better because I’m not alone anymore.

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Jeffrey Silverman
Jeffrey Silverman
3 months ago

You are an amazing person. I hope you and Pan have a lifetime of happiness together and a real appreciation for each other always.

Frederic Tang
Frederic Tang
3 months ago

Congratulations! Wishing you a long and happy marriage!

Anette
Anette
12 days ago

Grace, you have such an amazing voice. Thanks for sharing this unique perspective and experience during the pandemic. Really well written. Hope to read more soon. And congrats again! ❤️