Andrea Chabant Sanchez is a 29-year-old publicist who lives in Madrid. He usually travels to Paris once a month to see his girlfriend Emma Besancon. In January, he planned all his trips through July.
Now, those trips are cancelled. Travel restrictions have stopped him and many other people around the world from visiting their loved ones.
“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to see the person I love again,” said Sanchez. He and Besancon, who is 24, have not been together since before Spain declared a state of emergency on March 14.
“I always had a date: one for this month, next month...” said Sanchez.
Lola Gomez is a 22-year-old acting student from Malaga, Spain. She also feels the pain of separation.
“It’s only been eleven days, but it feels like I haven’t seen her in a month,” she said of her girlfriend Sara Lozano, also 22.
Lozano left Madrid to join her family in Pamplona the day before the quarantine was ordered.
Neither knows when they will next meet.
“We’ve been separated before, but this isn’t like Christmas or summertime, when it’s long but you’re doing a million other things,” said Gomez.
“This quarantine means a lot of time alone, thinking, asking yourself questions - a lot of time shut in too. You miss your partner so much more,” she said.
Sharing a drink... remotely
Etienne Berges is a 26-year-old humanitarian policy adviser working in Myanmar. He will not see his girlfriend, Amber Medland, next month.
On March 16, Myanmar ordered quarantine for anyone arriving from countries where COVID-19 is spreading. So, Medland, a 29-year-old writer based in London, cancelled her plans to travel.
Still, the couple is finding ways to be together from thousands of miles apart. They visit on video calls while watching the same television show or having a drink.
Gomez and Lozano share mealtimes over video calls. And they always video-call one another just before they go to sleep.
“That way, you give and get tenderness before sleeping,” Gomez said.
It is not quite the same as the real thing, however.
“The person you love should be the one person you can break confinement with, completely - because you lay beside them at night. And I can’t,” said Sanchez. He stayed alone in Madrid while Besancon went to be with her family in Normandy, France.
As the coronavirus spreads, separated couples are facing the fact that days apart turn into weeks, and now possibly months.
I’m John Russell.
The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
quarantine – n. to separate someone who has an illness
tenderness – n. gentle, loving behavior
confinement – n. to be held separately from others