The Rise of the Roommate

IN LATE MARCH, when New York City went into lockdown, I had to make a choice: either I shelter in place with my roommate (who is at higher risk of illness from the virus) and my two cats in our shared Brooklyn apartment, or I relocate to my partner’s one-bedroom space, some fifteen minutes’ walk east, not to return for the indefinite duration of the pandemic. Neither option was ideal. Our apartment had a slightly more centralized location, marginally more space, a dishwasher, and on-site laundry; it also had all of my stuff and the aforementioned cats (to whom my partner is severely, and frustratingly, allergic). On the other hand, my partner’s apartment had, well, my partner. Intimate companionship. The promise of emotional support amid an unprecedented episode of collective crisis. The assurance of human touch amid mounting paranoia over contact and spread. In the simplest possible terms: I could choose home, or I could choose hugs.

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