A couple I know well married last year in a beautiful early autumn ceremony. He left the East Village bachelor’s pad to which he’d retreated after his first marriage’s failure, she the Upstate home where she raised her kids and had work. They found a Brooklyn Heights high-rise at a rental price that gave my wife and I apoplexy. The couple honeymooned in the Caribbean, and took weekend trips to London and Upstate.
Then coronavirus hit. The husband did his Wall-Street writing from the apartment, the wife moved her new tutoring work online. They managed, even when one of their building’s elevators failed. They started to feel like survivors.
The economic downturn took hold. His job wasn’t affected. Her tutoring took a hit, but more importantly her newly inherited stock portfolio collapsed. Her new financial advisor made some bad decisions with her money, but made a pretty penny selling the home he’d bought for his mother.
She wasn’t used to living in the city. Feeling under siege, she started taking regular trips to Boston and D.C. to see her kids. She was glad she’d kept her car.
He missed hanging out in bars, but took to playing music with old friends via Zoom.
Then George Floyd’s murder occurred. The couple watched the marches gather on the plaza far below their apartment near Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. She wrestled with a wish to join the protests, or protect herself from Covid 19. He felt the protests were going too far, and started to express his cantankerous political views more. The two began sniping at each other.
It all came to a head very recently when she asked that he not come on the long-planned week-long holiday rental the couple had booked with their combined kids on Cape Cod. He grew petulant. He said things he didn’t know how to take back, and stopped talking.
She signed a one-year lease on a lake home Upstate, which the couple had earlier talked about sharing as a respite from what New York had become in 2020. He said he wouldn’t pay any of its high price, but still expected her to pay her share of the Brooklyn rent.
What to say to each side of this contretemps?
What sad blues our histories can rain on us all.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.