My ex and I are roommates.
Go ahead and let out a laugh. It’s hilarious, really, and laughter is very much needed in these times.
We’re laughing, because when we decided that there was no rush to live separately, we had no way of knowing that we’d be sheltering in place, together.
We’re laughing, because what else can we do, really?
I should mention that we’re not the average pair of exes. We give each other advice with other women (P.S.: I’m Gay.) I pluck his eyebrows before he goes on dates, even the last one where they sat in separate vehicles and talked with their cracked windows. He shaved my partial undercut when our barbershop shut down, because I was terrified I’d go full ’08 Britney if I tried it on my own.
We’re friends. Good friends.
We’re cordial. We have a child together, and it makes co-parenting easier to still live together, for now. He worked nights, and I work from home. The routine we fell into post-relationship was easy, because it was something we had already been doing.
We were passing ships that would sometimes hang out.
Then this whole COVID-19 thing happened.
My ex has two autoimmune disorders, one of which is in remission. When things started happening here in the United States, he was still going to work, but we’d limit all other contact. I did all of the grocery shopping, even when it was his turn. We’d stay home, or find ways to see other people while still being socially distant. But, as things progressed, we decided it was best for him to come home.
So, now I’m in quarantine, with my ex.
At first, we weren’t too worried about it. His health is more important, obviously. But, as this goes along, we’re starting to see little ways in which a 24/7 dynamic is a bit different now that we’re not a couple. I mean, we’d still go on vacations together as a family before all of this and be around each other all the time, but that’s different.
This is not a beach, or a theme park. This is a tiny apartment.
See, there were things I did while he was at work. I had a schedule for the home, a routine for myself and our son, and that all went to sh*t rather quickly. When he got home from work late at night he had his own ways of relaxing and I was fast asleep.
But now we’re encroaching on each other’s space and routines.
For example, when I cook dinner I like to put on my headphones and dance like it’s 2006. He knows this, but has never seen it. No one has. It’s something I do with myself, for myself, by myself. I’ve mentioned with a smile that it’s my time to decompress, to have some fun, to find a bit of light in my day. And yet, he’ll come into the kitchen multiple times and completely throw off my groove.
We’re still close, but we’re not shake-it-in-front-of-him close.
I asked him, for the purpose of this article and our sanity, what I had been doing that was annoying him. His response? “Oh, I haven’t really been paying attention.”
(See what I’m dealing with?)
He came back some time later and said that when he’s been wanting to use the Nintendo Switch, it’s been occupied. By me. For hours. Because I got the new Animal Crossing. This could become a real problem, obviously, and we’ll have to decide how to share custody of the one game system that we have.
It isn’t that bad, truly. It could be worse. At least we get along, and we don’t hold resentment toward one another. Well, we’re only a few days in so we’ll see, but so far so good.
In all seriousness, we’re learning some powerful lessons during this time.
1. Our son is over-the-moon to have so much time with his dad.
This one is important, perhaps the most important detail with all of this aside from personal, family, and social safety. While our son would generally have a small window of time between when his father woke and when he went to work, he now has the entire day. They’ve been spending wonderful, quality time together, and we’ve seen how light and happy our son has been with this.
2. We can still figure things out as a team, even if it’s bumpy.
No matter what, we’ll always be co-parents. It’s important to always be a team, to have a feeling of family between us. There will be times when we need to come together for the sake of our son.
We can create a new schedule, and learn to enforce boundaries with each other in a kind, loving way before we live separately. Because while we joke about the little ways we’re annoying one another, we both know how serious the tension could get if we ignore things. Instead, we’re having conversations around the space we both need, and how to approach these days at home.
3. We’re still friends.
When I hit a point of overwhelm, of panic so deep that it brought me to my knees, he was there. When he was frustrated, trying to figure out how to apply for unemployment, I was there.
We can take goofy pictures together for this article. And yes, we washed our hands first. We can laugh at jokes that we find online. We can make impromptu, parody songs about our situation in the kitchen.
That’s just who we are. No matter how often we fought when we were a couple, we were still friends. When we broke up, and I came out, we were still friends. If we can pull through all of that, we can make it through this without too many bumps and bruises.
So, yes. I’m in quarantine with my ex. But it could be worse.
(It could be a different ex.)