2020 was, in oh so many ways, a terrible year. 2021 hasn't started off with much to recommend it either. Lives were ended or upended, careers destroyed as whole industries crumpled. I could go on, but you've read similar things a million times since this whole thing began a year ago.
And yet, I would be remiss if I didn't note the effects the pandemic has had on a particular type of person, of which my wife and I both are.
We've been together now for nearly eight years, and for the vast majority of that time, Nicole and I traveled. Not a little, but a lot. Upwards of 35 weeks a year (not the full seven days, but between 3-5). We would be apart, hopping planes to different cities, different hotels, and spending our dates on the phone across time zones.
To be sure, all this business travel had its perks. We were able to take cheap vacations due to airline miles and hotel points. We saved money on groceries and household expenses that went into 401(k) accounts. We simply saw so many more cultures than what many people get within a more 'normal' life.
But we saw so much less of each other. Months would pass without us being together more than a couple days at a time. We would start to learn to live with one another during the holidays, say, when travel slowed, only to forget it by February as we jetted to opposite sides of the country.
So when COVID clamped down on business travel, Nicole and I found ourselves in a strange spot. Suddenly we weren't going anywhere. Suddenly we had to cook, clean, and care for each other without a hotel's maid service involved. This could've been a recipe for disaster, could've been a quick souring as habits and hobbies clashed in our house, particularly with both of us now working in the same space.
Instead, I think it's let us grow closer than we've ever been. We have habits now, shared ones rather than individual instincts. We team up to take on household tasks and raise Ashe, an immense job that would've been so much harder had we both been sent away every few days.
Our jobs have likely changed permanently too: we'll likely not be asked to travel so much, now that the organizations we work with have learned they can accomplish the same tasks without paying for the planes, the hotels, the per diems.
COVID's been a terrible disease, a rampaging horror for the world. For us, though, it's also brought a strange blessing: hunkering down in a disaster, it turns out, can bring you closer.