L.A. Affairs: We had one date before the coronavirus shutdown. Now what?
A week before the coronavirus shutdown, before I knew we were on the brink of the apocalypse, I reloaded Hinge, a dating app that claims it’s “designed to be deleted” because you’re so likely to meet your match, though my reasons for repeatedly deleting it have been due to disappointment as opposed to contentment.
This time, however, seemed different: After months of refraining from dating, I had agreed to meet up with a man who lived in Newport Beach. Despite the undesirable 30-mile drive south from my home in Long Beach, I shrugged and tried to embrace the idea that “dating is supposed to be fun” instead of writing him off for living in an inconvenient location.
We met up halfway in Huntington Beach and drank a couple beers overlooking the ocean. We discussed past travels, family dynamics, debaucherous nights and inevitably our concerns about what potential COVID-19 restrictions would entail. He was attractive, funny and humble. For once I had met someone I wanted to see again.
We wrapped it up and hugged goodbye, chest-to-chest. I had no idea such an innocent hug, or having shared drinks just a foot apart, would soon be considered too intimate.
He texted me that same night.
“We should do it again soon,” he said.
Instead, trying to remain positive about the coronavirus isolation, I created a quarantine bucket list. One item on it was to try online dating again and make more of an effort. I would try to make a real connection.
It made me smile.
The next day, I sent him an article about Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti banning large public gatherings within the city. “Well luckily I live in Orange County,” he responded, accompanied by a winky face.
We made plans for a second date.
I was unsure about disobeying the looming coronavirus guidelines. But I couldn’t help but wonder: Could I find love before a statewide shutdown? Over the next few days we texted, including some lighthearted corona-related memes while also dwelling on our genuine concerns about the possibility of impending doom.
The day before we were to meet, news broke that Orange County faced the same fate as Los Angeles: All public gatherings were banned.
“We might have to postpone,” he messaged. “Maybe we can FaceTime?”
It was a (virtual) date.
A few hours before our call, I sat on the couch donning a messy bun, glasses and the same sweatpants I’d been wearing for more days than I’d like to admit. I actually had to get ready! I put on makeup for the first time in a week. It was comforting to feel like I had somewhere to go, even if that somewhere was my bed, making sure I held my phone at a flattering angle so as to not create a dreadful double chin. We chatted for an hour before signing off, and after our call I realized I still liked him. He was lighthearted and perhaps most important, seemed interested in me.
Was two dates enough to warrant an in-person hang, despite social distancing orders? (Could you even consider those two dates, or was it one and a half?)
How has COVID-19 shaped my dating landscape? For the better. And with the pressure to meet off the table, I gave myself full permission to be me. The conversations have flowed. They’ve been engaging, meaningful and playfully inappropriate.
We agreed to meet up as long as we were abiding by the six-foot rule. We threw around ideas: I could roller skate while he rode his bike on the bike path, or perhaps enjoy a sunset beer on the sand.
But the day came, and he canceled.
“I have to go pick up some furniture in L.A.,” he wrote. “Maybe tomorrow?”
OK, I guess. I had no plans for the foreseeable future, after all, and I didn’t really mind rescheduling for the following day.
The next morning, he rescheduled again. “I realized my bike tire is flat, plus the forecast predicts rain later today.” Well, I do own a bike pump, I thought to myself, and the forecast didn’t predict rain until the evening.
I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but two cancellations in a row is suspicious, even if the reasons are relatively logical. Was he no longer interested or just fearful of COVID-19? Or were these excuses genuine?
At first corona-dating seemed like it might be fun. Distance builds interest, right? Wrong. There’s just so much sourdough and banana bread you can make. I need this to be over.
Either way, I decided to divulge that I was on the fence about our socially distant date to begin with. “To be honest, I don’t think the CDC would approve of us hanging, maybe we should wait until this blows over?” He agreed.
We continued to text, and the next night he told me he and his roommates hosted a mini-party, with his roommates’ girlfriends and a couple extra friends. “Can’t go on a bike ride, but can host a mini-party?” I teased, half serious. “I hope we don’t get the ‘Rona,” he joked, as I cringed.
Our texts grew less and less frequent, until finally there were no none. I’ve deleted Hinge yet again.
The author is an L.A. native and content creator. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @nancy_raven and her website is nancyravenkirk.com
Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary: L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles — and we want to hear your story. You must allow your name to be published, and the story you tell has to be true. We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.
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