Love in the Time of Covid

How quarantine brought two strangers together.

Covid lockdowns kept millions of people apart. But for this week’s Love Letter couple, isolation brought them together.

When the pandemic hit, Holly and Nick didn’t know each other at all. That changed when a mutual friend created a Discord chatroom so that he and his friends could pass the time together.

The two quickly noticed each other while playing different Jackbox games and pretty soon their conversations moved to the DMs. Within two weeks they were planning an outdoor, Covid-safe date.

Four years later, it would take more than a quarantine to keep them apart.

Here’s their story.

How’d you two meet? 

Holly: We met pretty early in the Covid lockdowns. My good friend from college had created a Discord server, which sounds embarrassing, but basically it was so that we could still all communicate and watch movies and play games together while we were all physically isolated. The server had a combination of his college friends and his high school friends. I was part of the college friend group and Nick was part of the high school friends.

We met on a group video call for the first time and kind of locked eyes somehow, which is technically impossible, but I think is what happened.

Nick: Somehow chemistry can transfer through a discord video chat. It felt like meeting physically in person. 

What were your first impressions of each other? 

Holly: I thought he was really fun and smart. We were playing those party games online, and I pride myself on being a bit of a clown. I enjoyed the competitive nature of that game with Nick around. He was my biggest competition. 

Nick: It was a combo of competition within the game but also of wittiness. I remember there were a lot of prompt-based games, and I feel we had very similar senses of humor.

How did you start talking one-on-one instead of on group calls? 

Holly: Nick had blown up on TikTok with one of his videos, so I was referring to him to my friends as my TikTok crush. I think I started DMing him TikToks while we were playing games on the Discord server as time went on. And then eventually we exchanged numbers. 

Nick: I remember that. I basically immediately started trying to read more rigorously about Astrology because I knew Holly was into that in a more detailed level than most people are. I started trying to learn things about it and I asked her if she could do a reading for me. 

Out of the blue I got a 30-paragraph synopsis of my entire sense of self and life story. And at that point, any sort of awkward barrier was completely gone.

Holly: I looked up his birth chart and I wrote a bunch of stuff out. At the time I was like, Well, this might be overkill or it might be crossing some boundaries. But if it is, then whatever, I guess he’ll just decide I'm a weirdo and that's fine. But he accepted it, even if he thought I was weird.

What did you do for your first date? 

Nick: We had a couple of streaming dates at first where we’d watch movies or comedy specials together. We made plans to go hiking up around New Paltz, which was a little north of both of us. In hindsight, going hiking on a first date is an insane thing to propose, but it was Covid and we had to be outside.

We went to the mountain and Holly made lunch and packed it up for us. I knew this spot to sit and sort of look out into the town. We put down a blanket and never ate lunch. We just talked for 10 hours straight to the point where by the time we left the sun was down.

On our way in I had seen a sign on one of the swinging metal grates saying “Park closes at sunset.” And when the sun was going down I was like I don’t want this to end, so I’m just gonna pretend I didn’t see that.

When we got down, the gate was closed. Internally I was freaking out, because this is the worst thing to subject someone else to. But I made myself stay calm. At the time I had this very tiny Scion XD, which was perfect. There was a little gap between these dense bushes and this solid metal gate. And we pushed this giant rock into the opening and it basically acted as a wedge or a ramp for us to launch out of this park. The car got a little bit of airtime onto this fairly narrow road and rolled out of there. 

Holly: He screamed. 

Nick: Yeah. And I grabbed Holly and I kissed her as the car was rolling. And in the moment I remember thinking “I feel like we’re married.” Once we were out of there I was like I’m glad I made the idiotic decision to ignore the sun going down

What happened next? 

Nick: I was still in my Ph.D program in Santa Barbara, and few weeks after our first date I decided to drive out to Santa Barbara to pack up my place and cancel my lease. I asked Holly to come with me for that. I think I directly said “Listen, if this is bad at any point, I will drop you at the closest airport.” But instead we spent two of the best weeks of my life driving from New York to California and back. Some of the most fun parts of that trip were being in the car and hanging out for 12 hours a day. 

What’s the secret to making a good first impression virtually? 

Holly: Online, there’s less data to go off of. There’s no physical interactions. So you kind of have to show up as the most saturated version of yourself. You have to be totally honest. 

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📊Last Week We Asked…

  • Would you actively seek a relationship with someone from another country if the opportunity presented itself?

    • 62% said “I wouldn’t actively seek, but if love comes knocking I’m going to answer”

    • 31% said “Yes, I’m always open to finding love no matter where I am”

    • 7% said “No, I’d stay away from it”

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Interviewed and transcribed by Nicolas Vega. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.