“Eighty percent of my friends aren’t dating,” says Brooke. “They haven’t dated for six months. They’re scared to do it.”
“I don’t want to date now,” says Ben. “I mean I do, but...”
“I’m definitely not hugging anybody,” Brooke says. “I haven’t even hugged my mom since March.”
We’re sitting in the shadowy sidewalk, under the trees outside where these three work, The Tavern, on Coronado’s Orange Avenue, around eight o’clock.
“I actually know people who grew closer to their partners because of the COVID,” says Rosie, who lives in Spring valley in a house with six siblings and children, “because they had to spend a lot of time during lockdown together. You have to give more to the partnership.”
Courtney outside Tavern
Her 15-year-old son David is at school via Zoom. “He’s a smart kid. But he just socializes electronically. He doesn’t do enough physical things. He’s gaining weight.”
“I was home alone for the first 65 days of the shutdown,” says Ben, who studied opera and business but now works here full time as a server. “I’m already an anxious person, I have a lot of anxiety. Not knowing when the shutdown was going to end, whether or not we would open the restaurant again. I wake up at 8 o’clock in the morning, and I make myself a cocktail, and just walk around the back yard all day. That’s all I do. I turned 30 during the lockdown. My best friend Gail came over with a couple of bottles of champagne, and we just sat across the patio from each other, drinking. In the lockdown I went to the liquor store a lot. It got to the point where I was drinking half a gallon of Tito’s vodka and a six-pack of IPA every two days.”
But it’s not all bad news. “COVID allowed me to let my guard down,” says Courtney. “I have a boyfriend now, and I haven’t had a boyfriend in seven years. He and I went on a date right before everything shut down. And throughout COVID, he was one of the few people I was comfortable spending time with. Even though my roommate and I made a pact with each other, like, ‘We’ll do our best not to bring COVID into our house,’ so basically I caved and ended up spending more time at his house. Before COVID, we’d socialize with our group of friends, or out in public. But now we’ve been restricting our time to just the two of us. It was a lonely time, but it allowed me to let my guard down with him. We kind of just latched on to each other. He became the person I talked to all the time, and then it was every day, and then it was several times during the day, and now we’re in a relationship. It’s so new and fresh and exciting.”
Ben: Writing Covid opera?
Ben sighs. “Nice. I mean, when you’re 20, you’re on the hunt. When you’re 30, it’s like, ‘If it happens it happens. I’ll leave my door unlocked.’”
“My husband says this lockdown is nothing,” says Rosie. “He spent five years in prison for selling drugs when he was in his early twenties. ‘That was lockdown,’ he says. ‘This is no big deal.’”