It has been said that disasters are relationship accelerators. They can cause a spike in marriage and babies — and they can also trigger divorce.
Most of us are hunkering down with people we already had some sort of relationship with. But a few have chosen to ride it out with practical strangers.
Gali Beeri is 37 and works as an executive assistant. Joshua Boliver is 42 and creates visual effects for movies. They both live in New York City and met at a dance class in March, as the city was preparing to lock down. At the time, they made the unlikely decision to quarantine together — after their first date.
The couple sat down to interview each other in Boliver's apartment in Astoria, Queens, which, Gali says, is now "kind of my apartment."
"Both of us thought it was the other one that suggested it," Joshua says about how they decided to quarantine together. "We just kind of stumbled into it."
They didn't really know much about each other when they started living together, and Joshua says they've had to navigate their differences as they came up. Joshua is a meat eater. Gali is a vegetarian. Joshua likes early morning. Gali is a night person.
They have met each other's parents on video chat. Gali says she remembers having fears: "Is it too soon to meet the family?" Joshua would laugh, she recalls, and say: "What's too soon? We already live together."
"The regular patterns don't really apply to us anymore," he says.
It has been such a joyful experience that Joshua says he wondered how long it could last.
"At some point, we're going to get bored or something and the honeymoon period will be over," he says.
The rough moment came, in dramatic fashion, after the couple had been quarantining together for about three weeks.
It was Gali's birthday, so they ventured to the grocery store to buy supplies for a celebratory meal. A few days later, she started feeling cold and shivering.
They took her temperature; Gali had a fever. By the next day, it had gone up to 103, then hit 104. They called the nurse hotline and were told that when a fever reaches 104, they should go to the emergency room.
"That's when I really felt the fear hit," says Gali. "I do not want to go to a hospital right now."
They were able to keep her fever down with Tylenol and avoid the ER. The experience prompted them to generate "worst case scenario" lists. Gali remembers asking herself whether she had a "do not resuscitate" order.
Gali says she trusted Joshua to make the right decisions for her, even though they had only known each other for a few weeks.
"Trusting a practical stranger with your health and well-being," Joshua laughs.
About five days into the fever, Gali had more energy.
"That night was my first shower," she reminds Joshua. "I washed my hair. It felt amazing. So I got out of the shower and you had made the bed. You put fresh sheets on the bed. I fell asleep. And that night my fever broke."
That was the first round: Gali's fever came back after a few days. Only recently has she felt her energy return to normal.
Since that time, Joshua says he finds himself wondering what will happen at the end of quarantine — and realizing that he doesn't want it to end.
"I'm curious, do you have any thoughts around it?" Joshua shyly asks Gali.
"This cocoon of time has felt like a gift," she says. "It also feels like living in a fairy tale."
Gali says that if quarantine goes on much longer, they'll have to "decide what we're doing."
"Maybe outside the constructs of this bubble that we've been in, it wouldn't work," Joshua says.
Gali is also nervous about what the future holds. "Yes, I have fear. Around walking out that door."
It's been 71 days, and Gali still hasn't been back to her own apartment.
This story was produced by Joe Richman of Radio Diaries, with Sarah Kate Kramer and Nellie Gilles. The editors were Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. We also had help from Jessica Deahl. To hear more stories from the Hunker Down Diaries series, subscribe to the Radio Diaries Podcast.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
It has been said that disasters are relationship accelerators - more marriages, more babies, but sometimes more divorces, too. Those of us hunkering down with other people probably already had some sort of relationship with them. Some of us, though, are sheltering with practical strangers. As part of their Hunker Down Diaries series, Radio Diaries brings us the story of Gali Beeri and Joshua Boliver. She is 37, works as an executive assistant. He is 42 and does visual effects for movies. They met at a dance class back in March when the city was preparing to lock down. They decided to quarantine together after their first date.
JOSHUA BOLIVER: Check one, two.
GALI BEERI: So that's recording. OK.
BOLIVER: We are currently at my house in Astoria, Queens, New York City.
BEERI: Which is now kind of my apartment.
BOLIVER: And both of us kind of thought it was the other one that suggested it.
BEERI: Yeah. Like, who suggested that we quarantine together?
BOLIVER: Yeah. We just kind of stumbled into it.
BEERI: And I have not been to my place in seven weeks.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
BEERI: Yeah. My friends were just really surprised. All of a sudden, I'm living with you. What? Who is this person?
BOLIVER: You're a vegetarian. I'm a meat eater. I like earlier mornings. You're more of a night person. So that's been a little push and pull that we've been trying to navigate. I've been to online Seder with your family. You've met my family multiple times over the video chat.
BEERI: And I remember having fears. Like, is it too soon for me to meet the family? And you start laughing. Like, come on. What's too soon? We already live together.
BOLIVER: The regular patterns don't really apply to us anymore.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
BOLIVER: It's just been such a joyful experience. You know, I was like, well, how long is this going to last, you know? I mean, at some point, we're going to get bored or something. The honeymoon period will be over, you know? And it had to happen in such a dramatic fashion.
BOLIVER: So talk about that day.
BEERI: So we'd been quarantining here together for a little over three weeks and then realized my birthday would be happening in quarantine. So - oh, yeah. We went shopping.
BOLIVER: And I was like, why don't we just go to the store? Better - safer if just one of us goes. And you pulled your birthday card and been like, no, I want to just go and look. And there's going to be things. And then we're in the store. And - wait, should I get this ice cream or these other ice creams? And I was like, I don't care. Just get all of them. Just get three of them. We need to get out of here. Let's get back home where it's safe (laughter).
BOLIVER: And that was, based on timing, would have been your exposure night.
BEERI: Yeah. That was probably the night I got exposed. And on that Saturday, April 11, I started feeling really cold. I was shivering, and you started giving me layers and your warmest hoodie. And then we thought, OK, let's check the temperature.
BOLIVER: You knew you had a fever, and you were scared to take your temperature.
BEERI: Yeah. I could feel it. Next day, it was getting 102, 103. It hit 104. That's when we first called a nurse hotline. And she said if the fever gets to 104, you have to go to the ER. And that's when I really felt the fear hit. I was like, oh, I did not want to go to a hospital right now. Thankfully we were able to keep my fever down and not have to go to the hospital. But at that point, I couldn't do anything. I had no energy.
BOLIVER: You know, it kind of got real really fast. And we started to generate, you know, worst-case scenario kind of lists.
BEERI: Like, do I have a DNR?
BOLIVER: You didn't like that question so much, did you?
BEERI: No. I didn't want to think about me getting to a point where I couldn't speak my needs and that you would have to take over that. Like, I totally trusted you to.
BOLIVER: Trusting a practical stranger with your health and well-being.
BEERI: So it was about five days into having that fever, I remember it was getting lower. And I finally felt like I had some - a little more energy. So that night was my first shower. I washed my hair. It felt amazing.
BOLIVER: Yeah, you were pretty stinky.
BEERI: Yeah. And so I got out of the shower. It was late, and you had made the bed. You put fresh sheets on the bed.
BOLIVER: (Laughter) Yeah.
BEERI: I just fell asleep. And that night, my fever broke.
BOLIVER: I found myself, like, in moments, afraid of what would happen at the end of quarantine - not wanting it to end. You know, I guess I've been curious about if you have any thoughts around it.
BEERI: This cocoon of time has felt like such a gift. It also feels like living in a fairy tale. But yeah, if this goes on indefinitely or there is no, like, clear end to quarantine, then we're just - then we have to decide what we're doing and, like...
BOLIVER: Yeah. I just assume one day, you're going to be like, OK, I'm going home. And I'll be like, OK. Bye.
BOLIVER: Maybe outside of the constructs of this bubble that we've been in, it wouldn't work.
BEERI: Yeah. I have fear around walking out that door.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
KELLY: That is Gali Beeri and Joshua Boliver in Astoria, Queens. It is day 71 of their quarantine, and Gali has yet to go home. Their story is part of the Radio Diaries series Hunker Down Diaries. You can find all the stories on the Radio Diaries podcast.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.