Before we even had time to book flights home or cherish one last hug with mum, Covid-19 tore though the globe: stealing our plans for today, tomorrow and next year in its grasp.
In a draconian turn of events, we were instructed to stay home with no work commitments or holiday plans getting us out of this one.
With the blanket of daily routine stripped from beneath us, there was seemingly nothing under our control anymore – not even our relationships.
Lovestruck teenagers were home from school, marooned several streets away from their crush. Soon-to-wed couples leap-frogged over years of marital life, jumping to endless dish duties and box set weekends.
Bumble matches put next week’s dinner plans on hold whilst parents juggled homework and tantrums and conference calls.
But much to our surprise, there was romance to be found in government-approved walks and the new commute from the kitchen to the sofa.
Lovestruck teenagers swapped old school notes not Facebook messages. Soon-to-wed couples found joy in burnt banana bread and arguments over Scrabble.
Bumble matches flirted over Zoom – corny jokes and childhood tales exchanged across the airwaves. Parents enjoyed real dinner conversation and cheered over milestones they would otherwise have missed.
It may have taken a global pandemic to get us to listen but we’ve finally stopped chasing the next best thing, to pause and reflect on what’s been in front of us all along. Whether that’s the relationship we have with our parents, our partner or ourselves.
When the world buckled under lockdown, love still squeezed through. Quarantined Italians sang from their balconies whilst Britons cheered from their doorsteps every Thursday night, a sign of gratitude for the nation’s healthcare workers.
Engagements over drone and living room elopements went viral, as couples continued to celebrate love in the midst of uncertainty.
Leonardo Novella was one of thousands of romantics who wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of plans to wed longtime love, Vanessa.
With shop doors closed, he ordered an engagement ring and bunch of flowers online – which he asked a local delivery man to leave on her doorstep one hot summer’s day in Zurich.
When Vanessa emerged, a suit-clad Leonardo got down on one knee to pop the question and her gleeful “Yes!” inspired a ripple of cheers from onlooking neighbours.
“The biggest thing that I realised during the pandemic is the uncertainty of the future,” he says. “I also learned that it’s more important to live a happy life with your loved ones, instead of searching for the right time. Maybe this is the right time…”
“If you love, you love – you don’t need to show it to the world.”
Across the globe, Lucretia and Jayme were one of many couples who got engaged just days before lockdown in New Zealand. Undefeated, the childhood sweethearts ordered their wedding attire online and rounded up their nearest and dearest for an intimate ceremony they’ll never forget.
“With close family stuck overseas, we decided that instead of waiting for borders to open, we would make the most of this unusual situation.” Lucretia says. “We eloped up at The Remarkables with just our parents, our family pastor and God to share our special day.”
“We felt incredibly blessed to have clear skies and a breathtaking sunset, the whole setting was unbelievable and so much more than we could ever have imagined.”
This refocused energy on our relationships is something clinical psychologist, Paula Dennan, has witnessed over the last few months.
“People either change through inspiration or crisis. During the pandemic, we’ve seen human beings pull together in teamwork response – we have each other’s backs.”
Lockdown has also shaped the most important relationship we have, the one with ourselves.
“There’s a new appreciation of what matters and the slower pace of life is allowing us to be more mindful. We’re appreciating the sunshine on our back and the flowers in the garden – we have finally been given the time to look at what’s in front of us,” Dennan adds.
Hidden between the anxiety-ridden news headlines and 8pm curfews, there’s certainly been a lot to feel joyous about.
Takeout margaritas in the garden. Morning chats with the neighbour you never knew much about. Giggles as you duck behind your partner’s Zoom call (for the second time this week). Bare-faced kisses over FaceTime. Working in pyjamas.
Our lovers have become our colleagues and our housemates have become family.
As lockdown lifts in some pockets of the world and we learn to navigate this strange ‘new normal’, let’s not forget to spread a little love each day.
Words by Danielle Fowler