Sex & Relationships

Is It Okay to Break Quarantine Rules in the Name of Love?

Your COVID-19 whitelist includes the people you desperately want to be close with.
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We’ve all done it.

We’ve all broken pandemic protocols. We’ve all gone out for something not essential. We’ve all skipped the masks when we shouldn’t have. We’ve all been less than six feet apart.

This may infuriate some but it shouldn’t surprise anybody.

We’re one year into the lockdown. We’ve ordered food from all our friends’ new home kitchen businesses and the only texts we receive are “J&T DELIVERY! TN: 781456507337 Rider: Lorenzo Miguel 63956487634. For COD pls prepare exact amount. Photo proof of delivery is required. Thanks and be safe!” Essential no longer means work and food. It means play and real social interaction. Six feet away is six feet too much when the only natural response to seeing someone is a prolonged and almost painfully tight hug. 

But we don’t get close to just anyone.

There seems to be a tier of relationships—platonic, romantic, sexual, what have you—that stands outside the potential contagion risk of the virus. Or at least that’s how we act. In other words, we’re okay with getting and giving the virus from and to a select few people. Our own little COVID-19 whitelist. 

For poetry’s sake, let’s call the line that divides the whitelist from everyone else love. It’s that love that invites our fresh-off-a-flight friend over for drinks when he should be in quarantine. It’s that love that says “fuck it! and trades an eyebrow raise and eye squint for a full hug when we see a friend. It’s the love that has us Poblacion-esque partying in the province, pretending the virus just prefers the city. It’s that love that has us getting dirty with strangers from the internet in our sanitized-every-hour apartment buildings.

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It’s a sneaky little unspoken understanding between us and those on our list. It’s like we sign a waiver saying we’re okay with putting ourselves at risk of getting the virus from them as long as they absolve us of any blame and shame should they get it from us. It’s a private agreement between individuals to temporarily forego what is required of the public. Whatever the consequences. What do the parties have to gain? A sense of normalcy. And nowadays, that’s priceless.

Is that love selfish because you don’t care that you put the other person in harm? Or is it selfless because you don’t care what harm you put yourself in to be close to the other person?

Is it a new measure of friendship: Am I willing to get COVID-19 from and for these people? Will they forgive me if they get COVID-19 from and for me? Is it a question of who we love, and who loves us, enough to take the risk?

Is it irresponsible? Probably. Is it understandable? I hope so. Can it wait one more week?

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Romano Santos
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