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L.A. Affairs: She cares for COVID-19 patients. I’m at high risk. Can this work?

Traveling together would be a good test of compatibility.
Traveling together would be a good test of compatibility.
(Alexander Vidal / For The Times)

It started the usual way. We met on a dating site in February. It quickly progressed from texting to FaceTime, often several times a day.

We learned we were both Virgos and had a penchant for order, cleanliness and punctuality — qualities that can drive others nuts.

In short, we got each other.

After 46 blind dates that were mostly disastrous, my expectations were not too high. I had survived so many evenings of challenging conversation, no attraction and boredom that I figured what was one more to add to the list. It would at least give me another funny story to share with my friends and family.

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Our first in-person meeting was a picnic at a local park. I had set the table and watched as she approached. R. was even prettier in person. She wore tailored pants and a bright orange blouse. (She later admitted she’d had her eyes on me from the minute she left her car and walked the 50 yards across the grass. She said: “I told myself there and then, ‘Hey, I could be with this guy.”)

My last relationship had been with another lawyer who preferred her time at the office to coming home for dinner. I had been divorced for 10 years, living alone all that time. By the time I found myself on that dating website, a change was overtaking me. I thought I might be ready to live with a woman again. R. too was divorced with adult children and was ready to get out of her comfort zone.

We began meeting as often as our busy schedules would allow. She worked three demanding 12-hour days a week as a registered nurse doing bedside patient care, and I am a stressed-out litigation lawyer.

I went to South America and brought back a North American souvenir — a guy who just happened to be good-looking, employed, travel savvy, available and local. Wait, was he a unicorn?

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By mid-March, the pandemic hit Los Angeles. I am at high risk for severe illness from the virus: I have a history of pneumonia and am an ex-smoker.

She was at her hospital’s epicenter, caring for COVID-19 patients.

My hero.

As the scourge ramped up, we saw a window of opportunity: We decided to take a road trip into the great wide open to Yellowstone National Park. We both took coronavirus tests, and they came back negative.

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Traveling together would be a good test of compatibility. I learned that being a mother of four and a nurse teaches one extraordinary organizational skills. Where I was a last-minute packer who under packed and often forgot essentials, she had thought of everything necessary for a long road trip — from road snacks to fingernail clippers. And it was all meticulously packed for easy access.

I told myself there and then, “Hey, I could be with this woman.”

For the next 11 days we drove for miles and miles and miles, often not a house or human in sight. We saw buffalo, grizzlies and antelope. We talked about how much of this country was still unoccupied, still unspoiled.

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That journey allowed us uninterrupted time to learn of our histories, our kids and our past marriages. She had just come out of a controlling relationship. I confessed I had ruined relationships with my need for more money and success. We talked about why this relationship could be different. We had both learned with age to listen more and talk less. Driving and talking for hours served to deepen our feelings and respect for each other.

We pledged to make it work in the new normal. We made a commitment to be monogamous. We have talked about living together one day and perhaps marriage.

We are both back at work, I from home and she again saving lives on the COVID-19 floors. We still have FaceTime and our picnics in the park and have begun supporting restaurants, dining outside between two sheets of plexiglass. We are still separated by circumstance. Everything else will have to wait until a vaccine is offered.

Why are we willing to do this?

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We know we have found something special and enduring.

In this time of uncertainty, that much is certain.

The author is a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles.

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. The story you tell has to be true, and you must allow your name to be published, We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.


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