Merry Christmas!

Christmas is upon us again! Reflecting on my blessings in an otherwise harsh two years, I know the pandemic has gifted me an opportunity to draw closer than ever to you. In the last twenty-two months, we have been blessed with months-long periods together. We bathed our groceries, processed New York City open data, and generated synthetic trees. We boiled in more than one hot tub, painted landscapes, and hiked. We finished a book. We started a book. We got new jobs. We mused about the next phase of our life together.

I want to look back at all the happiness that you and I have found. I want to relish how we loved one another and created joy despite the restrictions, the danger, and the fear that pervaded our lives these past twenty-two months.

COVID-19 Case Counts

This margin displays the COVID-19 positive case counts for New York City and Masschusetts. Due to the variable resolution of my memory, each month's narrative varies in volume. As the text's temporal density shifts, the case count graph will ebb and flow ahead and behind of the narrative.

I appreciate this effect. Sometimes we're looking ahead, sometimes we're looking back. The skew reflects how we sometimes recoiled in anticipation of a growing wave or ventured out, unaware of a rising variant.

Twenty-Two Months of Pandemic Life




March did not begin fortuitously. Our relationship was raw as I flew down to the Virgin Islands for a sailing trip. As I bobbed in easy swells, sailing my first night-sail, the planet bobbed in the growing swells of COVID-19.

Just a month before, Ben remarked, quite wrongly in retrospect, that the novel coronavirus spreading in Wuhan was no great threat to us. It was too lethal. It would surely burn itself out before spreading very far.

I returned to Saint Thomas on the 14th to find the world in a panic. I had a train booked to New York later that week, but we met on Sunday the 15th for "Disease planning". I was in New York by Monday night.

During the last week of March and the first week of our pandemic story, we hosted our inaugural movie night. We watched Eddie Murphy navigate a new and unexpected challenges in "Coming to America".


In April, we created a weekly plan cementing the weekly movie nights as well as daily yoga! I found joy in stretching my body. You found joy in poking my bum as I bent over.

On the third of April we sewed our cotton masks. Flowers and sharks! You would later paint a portrait of me with matching bow-tie and mask.

On the fourth, we went grocery shopping for the first time. Our produce enjoyed a bath in the kitchen sink much like a young child might. That Tuesday, you attended Caroline's salon for the first time since leaving Boston in a novel remote session.

On the seventh of April we celebrated your birthday with a cake fit for an architect: white frosting with black chocolate stripes.

On the tenth, we wrote "write list of things to do when this is all over". How ambitious! I wonder what became of that list. We made an illuminated journal and did crafts that weekend too.

In late April, we finished our smittens!


I believe it was around May that we started making beer bread. My preparations of eggplant no-parmesan had become a regular affair. We made scallion pancake tacos. We folded dumplings and, accidentally, made dumpling soup as they broke open!

We talked and read about shape files. We learned that shape files may contain many different kinds of records including points, polylines, and polygons! We learned that polygons may contain multiple parts, including holes! We built a partially working Python library for efficiently converting shapefiles into GeoJSON.

It was sometime around now that you needed to convert a bunch of textual address descriptions into lat-lon pairs. You lamented the speed of this process. In typical Dan fashion, I launched into a description of ThreadPoolExecutor.


In June, we marched in several Black Lives Matter protests. We walked through many of the neighborhoods of Manhattan. We saw Gracie Mansion dressed up like a fortress. A visual reification of the distance between the Mayor and the people.

You taught me how to sketch a boat in an architecturally sound way. I leveraged this new skill for a Father's Day card!

The days were so long and the living room grew warm! We enjoyed a beautiful sunset every night after we finished our daily yoga. We leveraged the long day to go hiking at Breakneck Ridge. You suffered a bit of overheating and exhaustion but we made it down alive.


I learned that Greg and Sara were moving out which drew me back to Cambridge for the first time in three months. Events blossomed like flowers in Spring on our shared calendar. "DK+SZ #soinlove". "READ PERMUTATION CITY". "Just the tip". "dksz e-hugs and iKisses". "love over the wire". "zoom! love"

We tried to watch the Neowise long period comet. If I recall correctly, you saw it, but it wasn't visible in Somerville.

We reunited in late July. We biked to see the BLM murals around Manhattan. We particularly liked the one in Harlem which had a wealth of artists' contributions.


The first of August featured an aborted attempt to take a zipcar out to Long Island. Probably for the best, what's on Long Island anyway?

We captured ourselves singing and strumming in August. You refused to send a message into the future.

The end of August saw me back in Somerville to clean up the remnants of Greg and Sara.


What a wonderful month! I picked you up in New York. We drove to Philip Johnson's Glass House. We trotted about the property enjoying the vistas and wildlife as Philip Johnson must have.

We sojourned briefly in Boston before a lovely stay at the Franconia Inn in New Hampshire. We soaked in the hot tub. We walked along the flume. The fresh rains of late summer unleashed a magical wealth of mushrooms as we embarked on a mammoth hike along the west side of Franconia notch. I captured my very favorite photograph of you.

The last weekend of September we piled into cars with Arcturus, Jackie, Patrick, and Lizzie to pick our own apples and admire giant rectangular sun guzzlers.


Despite the dropping temperatures, we had a delightful month. On the 17th, we made avocado toast for breakfast. Later that day we learned the magic of wok hei and the importance of cooking fried rice really hot. This class inspire many later nights of flash fried cabbage. We finished the day by watching a German DJ join his depressed friend for the friend's aborted honeymoon.

The following day we biked out to deCordova structure park with Brant, my future roommate, and TC. The high was a brisk 58 degrees Fahrenheit, but we were comfortable in pants and sweaters.

Later that month, we joined Caroline and her friends to plant blubs. I bottled my home-brewed beer. We saw an unseasonably early snowfall on the 30th.

As the snow melted, we were out for a walk along Spring Hill. To the good fortune of us and all our friends, as we walked along summer street you tried to befriend an errant turkey. Despite multiple waves and an attempted pet, Mr. Turkey saw you as a threat, not a friend. He showed off his martial arts skills with a flying left kick.


In November, you organized a Rosy Musical Hour in Greg, Sara, and Cara's backyard to rave reviews. I remember my mind drifting away into space as I listened to one of their songs. I was warmed by the company of friends that I had not seen much since the pandemic began. I am so glad you brought so much warmth and joy to all of as the pandemic winter began.

In the latter half of November, we watched Bob Ross and painted a pair of red barns. Yours was characteristically beautiful, but also demanded quite a bit of time! Just a couple days later we cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for my parents and James. The first and only time we've properly celebrated Thanksgiving together. A moment I will cherish for years. I, oddly, have no photographs of the moment! Just tender memories.


We spent a lot of December apart so that you could visit your parents despite the strict quarantine requirements of Canada. Apparently in your absence I went a bit crazy filming my own mouth.

My 2020 Christmas game was really good. I knit a hat for Liam for a Secret Santa. I decorated several wrapped gifts with painted Christmastime scenes. Finally, on Christmas Day, I baked a maple orange brioche french toast, a mushroom and egg frittata, and breakfast rolls. The only thing missing on Christmas Day was you.


By January 8th we were again reunited. My hair had grown quite long by then. I finally experimented with making popovers using a proper popover tin. (conclusion: great success). We picked up Otto's pizza dough at Whole Foods which had apparently been shipped there all the way from Portland, Maine! We learned the secret trick: put the pizza directly on the base of the oven. We were reading a lot of Octavia Butler these days. You thought we should try walking all the way to the Noguchi Museum. Saner heads prevailed that day and Noguchi would have too wait ten months.

By your instigation we picked up skating lessons at this time! One of your best ideas. We spent the first three months of 2021 learning how to glide across the ice at Lasker rink.

We also virtually attended David and Elise's baby shower. In just a few more months we'd see that baby in person in Somerville.


February second was Groundhog Day and both of us felt we might be stuck in a cycle as March 2021 neared with case counts higher than ever. Little did we know that Winter 2021/2021 would bring yet higher case counts and a virulent new variant.

For Valentine's Day, we baked a heart shaped cake and went skating at Bryant Park. We both were able to show of our newly acquired skills!


We had a wet skate session before riding the Amtrak to Boston before continuing to a cabin in New Hampshire. We spent the week there with Aditi, Avni, Kepler, Emma, and James. We scampered from the house to the hot tub and back again. We walked among the Christmas trees. We went antiquing and enjoyed hot pizzas on a cold March day at Schilling brewery.

Before we went home, just you and I made a special trip together to Lebanon, New Hampshire. At the AVA gallery, we considered the angel within each of us.


The crossroads of Winter and Spring has arrived again. We saw funny ice formations in the driveway as well as warm weather and blooming daffodils.

Your second pandemic birthday. I took the day off to cook your meals for you while you worked very hard at your job. April also saw you organize Rose's Into the Light concert. In late April, the vaccine-eligibility was finally extended to the general public. I was vaccinated on April 24th just before we went to Caroline's garden party. A perfect sunny day to appreciate the fruits of last Fall's labor.


On May first, we finally had our sailing date. It was a wild ride! 15 mph sustained winds with gusts to 25! The wind ensured it was cold among the waves, but the solid ground greeted us with a high of 18C.

The rabbits began their seasonal breeding.

On the 29th we had another pair painting session.


We started June by helping my Dad move into his new apartment. The next day we went to the MFA to see the soon-to-close Basquiat exhibit. We saw work by Basquiat and contemporaries like Fab 5 Freddy, Keith Haring, and Lady Pink.

We spent the week of the 12th in New Hampshire with my parents and sister. We hiked Table Mountain, which overlooks the Kancamangus highway, and Mount Willard, which overlooks Route 302. A whole lot of roads around these parts, huh! At some point we drove over a nail and had to drive all the way to Portland to swap the rental car.


You headed to Toronto for your parents and I to Alabama for fun. You left me paintings and a postcard.

July was a month filled with changes! Liam and Rebecca wed. James packed up and moved to New York. I began regularly working in the office. The Delta variant grew to become the dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2.


The swampy heat of Boston and New York hits its peak in August. In Boston, the flowers were in full brilliant bloom. In New York, the smell of garbage was similarly in bloom.

We spent the second weekend of August in a feverish search across Manhattan and Brooklyn for the perfect apartment. Despite seeing several places in Brooklyn, the only place we saw in Manhattan, the stately Ormonde, won the day. The studio is beautiful and bright, with high ceilings and clean white lines. In the end, the choice was clear.

For the remainder of the month, I spent many weekends on Boston Harbor. You threw me a beautiful birthday party complete with the most delightful birthday balloons I have ever had. My hands and body have been warmed ever since by a new green-and-bronze kettle.


We enjoyed a month full of birds visiting my new bird feeder. We saw Cardinals, Wooly Woodpeckers, Pidgeons, Sparrows, and Blue Jays. Sadly, the birds would not last. They used the deck and trash cans as a litter box to the dismay of Mark.

I also got a flu shot. Sadly, 2021's flu shot was a swing and a miss. In fairness ton the pharmaceutical industry, they have had an otherwise good two years.

We made art with Sara and friends. Finally, on the 24th, you moved in to your beautiful new apartment on the upper west side!


We began October apart, but soon reconnected in New York City. Our first weekend together was action packed! On the seventh, we experienced Little Island. We enjoyed it, but I found it not substantially better than any other city park. On the eighth, we traveled by train to Dia: Beacon.

In Dia: Beacon, we saw cool line drawings, a dark cavern of bizarre videos and collages, a room full of yellow, deep pits, and much more. We dined on delicious Middle Eastern dishes at Ziatun before rushing back to catch our train back to the city.

I was back in Boston the following weekend. I went hiking with my father after a fresh rainstorm and discovered a cornucopia of mushrooms!

I returned to New York the very next weekend and met your friend Rachel. We all went to the Noguchi museum together.


In November, we enjoyed the DOC NYC documentary film festival. We saw Come Back Anytime, a delightful documentary about a ramen shop in Japan. Although superficially about a ramen shop, the film actually studied the community that developed, formed by the patrons and the chefs. Despite being an enjoyable film, we were forced to cringe our way through a racist and inane interview between a food critic, the director, and a member of the film crew. The food critic is revealingly quoted on the film's website:

I've lived in Japan. I've written extensively on the food culture of Japan. This is probably the best movie I've ever seen on the topic.

The next day, we went to the Met with your friends for the Costume Institute's latest exhibition "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion". It took us a while to find our way to the basement of the museum. While we were there we also peeped some contemporary paintings including my favorite, Edward Hopper.

While we were apart, I dislocated my pinky playing soccer in what might prove to be a lifelong derangement. This interstitial period was otherwise uneventful.

We spent American Thanksgiving in Toronto and I met your parents for the very first time! It was delightful. We cooked our favorite dishes from last year's thanksgiving for your parents. We went to a Christmas market. I met your friend Zach. We visited the Art Gallery of Ontaro with your parents. Our aversion to rental skates and frigid weather was jointly and separately solidified.


We spent December largely apart. Michelle came to visit me during the first weekend of December. You came to Boston for a weekend of Slutcracker and Brunch. You spent Christmas in Toronto. I went to New Hampshire. I finally caught COVID-19.

New York City