I’m not going to lie; I needed the break from work so badly. Only weeks prior to the statewide shutdown, I was practically on my knees begging the universe to deliver me some kind of break.
So, this idea of shutting down the state seemed not only a reasonable idea, it was exactly what my weary body needed.
I worked for a large corporate gym at the time as a Pilates instructor. I had a large client base, but still growing. I also had a full life outside the gym with three young children. Single motherhood was my primary fulltime job even with equally shared time with their father. This shutdown, given the children were going to be out of school, was looking more and more like a blessing in disguise. It would allow me to be home with them while they did distance learning. It was exactly what we all needed. My life felt like it was finally taking a turn in the right direction. The year prior had been, up to this point, one of the worst years of my life. So, I thought “wow, things may finally go my way!”
I had contacted all my clients giving them information about the gym closure, letting them know I will be reaching out to them as information becomes available in regard to reopening. Once the last text was sent, I was on vacation!! Woohoo!! No more work for me!! As I was having my first celebratory glass of wine, one of my clients [Hudson] sent me a message. He asked how I was doing and if there was anything I needed, along with any information I may have about returning to the gym. After a quick exchange, letting him know there was no new information, I was back sipping my wine enjoying the art of doing nothing. Then, again, a week later my phone pings “Hey, its Hudson. Just wanted to check in and see how it’s going. Heard you were officially furloughed. Let me know if you need any toilet paper or anything!” Well, taking him up on the offer for toilet paper may actually be a good idea, so I engage in a brief exchange of texts. This time we had some friendly banter back and forth, but I kept it short, because, well, I was in full blown vacation mode at this point. I appreciated the sentiment, but I didn’t want to be reminded of anything work related, or anything man related for that matter.
See, in the months leading up to the gym closure, I’d had a string of unsuccessful relationships, crushes, or otherwise. I finally had the hard talk with myself that I was clearly not suited to pick a man. So, I fired myself. I fired myself from choosing, pursuing or anything having to do with the acquisition of a man. I had promised myself I would leave the choosing of a man up to the universe. The kind of man I wanted would court me, the old-fashioned way.
So, nearly 3 weeks into the shutdown, I hear my text message alert ding. Once again, its Hudson. This time he sends me information about the CARES act, the extra funds that helped with unemployment. Curious as to why he keeps texting me, I picked up my phone to start another series of text message back and forth. This time, as we kept texting, our conversations grew deeper and funnier. By midafternoon when he asked me out for coffee, I realized that he was exactly what I had been asking for! It was actually happening and of all the crazy things, right in the middle of a pandemic. What are the odds??
That’s when all the questions hit me. HOW are we going to do this? Is it right to do this? Crap, where do we do this? Long gone were the days of going into the coffee shop for a first date. Heck, long gone were the days of even shaking hands when we first meet. We figured it out however and then the universe took care of the rest.
Over the course of the next several weeks we would meet outdoors, we would go for walks, picnics, and more walks. It was like we were dating in the 1950’s again and I was actually being courted properly by a man. It was so refreshing. The pandemic had forced us to slow down, and really connect with one another. What I realized was that it wasn’t in spite of the pandemic we found each other; it was because of the pandemic that we found each other. See, our paths crossed regardless of the shutdown. However, what the pandemic forced me to do is to not go down the same paths I had chosen in the past. It forced me to understand what true intimacy really looked like.
Then the phone call happened. “It was positive for cancer, I’m sorry”
One of the things I was getting taken care of during my time off work was taking care of me. I had gone and done all the things you neglect to do with a heavy workload and parenting. One of those things was a mammogram. Which was then followed by an ultrasound, followed by a biopsy the next day. The results came in the next week. Finding out you have cancer is something you’ll never forget but wish you could. You remember what you were wearing, where you were standing, what the weather was like, what you heard (and didn’t hear), the pain, the fear, the utter dread of those words leaving the doctors mouth. It feels exactly the same today as it did then.
What was I going to tell Hudson? Our relationship was still so new. The woman he signed up to be with no longer exists. This will change everything. “Figures” I think, “just when he shows up, I’m a mess.” I get on the phone, palms sweating, heartbeat nearly exceeding that of HIIT workout, and call him. I wasn’t sure what to expect really. I felt bad mostly, knowing I was about to break his heart. Turns out, he was there for me. Not in the cliché romcom sense. He was present with me. Present in my mess, seemingly undaunted by the new task at hand. Unphased by my attempts to push him away. He stayed. Just like I had asked the universe to do.
So, now here I am, going into my 4th chemotherapy infusion. I’ve lost all my hair. The day I shaved my head (I wanted to have some control over how my hair went) Hudson came up to visit me and surprised me with his head shaved! Literally one of the kindest gestures I’ve ever received. I remember when he took his hat off and I saw his nearly bare scalp, I was taken aback. In fact, I didn’t really react, at least not in the way that I feel like I should have. He had taken the time to go pay to shave his head and he did it willingly, unselfishly, to show his support for me. This kind of deliberate love was something my world rarely saw, but it was something I knew would be in my life if he was willing to stay.
But as far as a relationship, cancer and COVID? It’s a lot. When he comes to visit, we keep our distance on days where I know I’m at my weakest. Sometimes he will pick me up to go for food and a drive then bring me back home. We still choose each other. It forces us to explore what real intimacy in a relationship looks like, not just the physical kind. It’s been an amazing journey together. One in many ways I wish didn’t have to live, but in more ways that I can count it has given me an amazing gift.
Submitted by Victoria Hunt, El Dorado County – Placerville.