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As with many couples in a long-term relationship, I thought we could not possibly be closer, more content. Enter Covid quarantine.

Max and I had a rather unusual first meeting. He was waiting outside New Seasons for a friend. Although it was July, I still remember the beautiful coat he was wearing, a velvet, dark chocolate brown. I stopped to admire it and struck up a conversation. I remember learning that he was living with a teacher, visiting from South Korea. I inquired about the origin of his incredible coat, thinking that someday I would wish to purchase one similar. Max said it came from Canada. He provided his phone number for contact about its source. I was sad when, after leaving two messages, there was no response.

Late one night in early December, the phone rang. It was Max, inquiring if I'd consider a roommate. His living situation had unexpectedly changed. We met again and decided to try this arrangement. Admittedly, it was a bit challenging at first. Max was somewhat aloof, liked being in charge and was not respectful of my property. Yet, he could be quite charming and affectionate, too. Often, he would look at me with the most caring expression on his face. Together, we enrolled in a two-month therapy session to see if we could resolve our issues. We both benefitted immensely. Although there were still occasional disagreements, these paled over time.

It's been eight years now since Max joined me. Since then my home has increasingly been filled with lounging and boy-toy apparatus. The family room is now affectionately known as "The Max Den." Even before the Covid quarantine began, ours had become a quiet and very companiable life filled with small events. Somewhat foreign to my nature, I have learned to respect Max's need for routine, especially mealtime. Happily, he thinks my modest efforts are a culinary feast. Reading and writing are among my favorite pastimes. Max is very respectful of these solitary pursuits but will nudge me away from the screen or book if he feels my eyes need a rest. We both love to walk on local forested trails or the sands of Oregon beaches. Nightly cuddling on the couch or lazy mornings spent watching the sun shyly enter our room are cherished moments.

As with many couples in a long-term relationship, I thought we could not possibly be closer, more content. Enter Covid quarantine. Max is a social being, even more so than I. He misses the interactions we would share with neighbors or even strangers on our walks, the people he would chat with while I was in yoga or art class. The past three months have provided ample time for walks but little social interaction. Yet, we learned even more about each other, treasuring this. Sadly, I've learned that may not be so for all.

One afternoon in mid-April, strolling on a favorite path, we came upon a sad, elderly woman seated on a bench. Max was wearing his favorite (if fading) velvet jacket. The woman commented on its beauty. Max smiled, sending a caring glance in her direction. Responding, she began to speak, "I've been married 57 years and now I don't think it's going to work anymore. He (her husband) has always travelled and so I ran the household and raised our children, got them to school and all their activities. He would be home briefly, then off again. It worked well for us. Now he's here every day, constantly telling me how to do everything his way. I can't take it anymore!" Many details were provided to support her complaint for the next twenty minutes as Max and I stood there, not knowing what to say to this stranger. Finally, taking a deep breath, she rose from the bench and maintaining social distance, stated, "Thank you for listening. I feel much better, I can go home now."

That night, reflecting on the ever-increasing quality of our relationship, I asked Max to marry me. Covid has enriched our union. Max did not answer me that night; he just cuddled closer. I have asked again but to no avail. Finally, I understand. We already have everything we need with our arrangement though I think Max would like a new leash or toy.

Josie Seymour, Jottings Group


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