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Celebrating a 5-year anniversary on Animal Crossing

By Mackenzie Montross

I moved out of my WKU Apartment on March 21, four days before Gov. Andy Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to stay home due to the spread of COVID-19.

While some people are quarantined with their significant other, I — like many others — am quarantined with my family in Louisville: my mom, step-dad, sister and two dogs.

I love my family, and it’s been great spending more time with them since I lived in Bowling Green for most of the year due to school. But I also miss my friends and my boyfriend, who I haven’t seen due to quarantine. My boyfriend and I have had to find ways to stay connected since we can’t see each other, one being playing “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” together.

My boyfriend, Isaac, and I met during my junior year of high school through a mutual friend. We found out we had a few classes together, sat near each other in study hall and got to know each other. 

Our mutual friend introduced us because she thought we’d be a great pair and “shipped” us for a few months. Isaac and I thought it’d be funny to play an April Fool’s joke on her and say we had been dating in secret. That plan was never discussed beyond the idea. While texting on spring break a week after, we realized we had actual mutual feelings towards each other. Thus, our anniversary date was established as April 7, 2015.

Isaac asked me to prom a week or so later and that was our first official date, which ended in typical high school rom-com fashion with a first kiss at the end of a wonderful night. Flash forward five years later, and we’ve been together for five years with a majority of the time being long-distance due to school. I lived in Bowling Green for WKU and he lived at home in Louisville to work. He came to visit every now and then for my sorority’s formals or other events, and I’d come home and try to see him on the weekends. The saying is true, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

When I moved out of my apartment, I brought my sister with me to help. Once I had packed up my stuff, Isaac came down to help us drive it home to Louisville. That was the last time I saw him since quarantine started. We didn’t get to celebrate our five-year anniversary in person, but the company Nintendo just happened to help us indirectly.

Nintendo released “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on March 20, which I pre-ordered a month in advance because I was so excited to play. If you’re a Nintendo fan, you’ll understand the Nintendo Switch console has been a popular console to buy since its release in March 2017 and it has decent capabilities to connect to WiFi. With this connection comes the feature of Nintendo Online that allows players to connect and play with their friends and other people around the world. In “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” players set up their own deserted island into a structured civilization which already includes an airport when you arrive. The airport is designed as a gateway to travel to your friends’ islands and for them to come visit yours.

I’ve never thought Isaac would play a game like “Animal Crossing.” He’s always played games like “World of Warcraft,” “Doom,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “League of Legends” and others that are more strategy and action-based. Don’t get me wrong — I love all those games, and I used to play some of them years ago. 

However, the day before our five-year anniversary, I found out Isaac had purchased “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and the Nintendo Online subscription. He knew how much I had enjoyed playing the game recently, and we both miss each other. He bought it so we could have an “anniversary date” in the game.

Our anniversary date consisted of showing each other around our islands because every island is different. We showed each other where we put our stores, our villagers’ homes, and showed off our own houses since you can upgrade and decorate it however you want.

There is a photo feature in the game where your character can do different “emotes” or expressions. We took quite a few photos together with our characters smiling and even recorded some videos in the game. We pretended to have a picnic outside my house on my island and had fun exploring each other’s islands and meeting the villagers.

Nintendo has an app that allows you to voice chat with friends who are playing the same game, but Isaac and I talked on the phone for some time instead.

It’s been hard for me, being away from him, since I enjoy his company and spending time with him. This is the closest we’ve been for a while since he moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, in November 2019 to work at another store. He came home since the company he worked for closed temporarily from COVID-19.

We still Snapchat and message each other every day. Sometimes it can be a full conversation of something random, or the only words we might say to each other all day are “I love you and miss you.” Technology is a wonderful thing to keep us connected even though we’re five minutes away from each other.

In the end, we both know that we love and miss each other, and once this quarantine is over, we’ll have a great time going out for food and playing more Animal Crossing: New Horizons  in the same room, together again.

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COVID-19 showed my boyfriend and me a glimpse of living together

By Julianna Lowe

My boyfriend and I spent our last day on WKU’s campus running in and out of our dorms, juggling boxes and baskets before we got them to our cars that waited in the parking lot below. We were sweating, cracking jokes and denying the fact that the sun was going down because along with nighttime came the unanswerable: what now?

Our plan for the day was set into motion: move my things from Southwest Hall to my house, and then move his things from Hilltopper Hall to his house — an hour away from my hometown in White House, Tennessee. 

With the inevitable shutdown of our home state Tennessee looming above our heads, the atmosphere between us was tense. Both of our hearts weighed heavy with the possibility that we may not be able to see each other for months. Our minds swirled with possible solutions to the problem. 

At the same time, his mother was feverishly texting him to get home quickly and safely, under the impression that Tennessee would be locked down the next day. 

“Wherever she is, she has to stay,” his mother said in response to his questions about me. She was concerned about the health of the five toddlers she has at home, refusing to let him or me pass back and forth between our houses as we had been for a year. 

He showed the text to me, raising his eyebrows and waiting for my answer.

I met my boyfriend in March 2019, and I found out then that he lived in Spring Hill, Tennessee, — an hour away from my home. A year later, he was asking me to live with him for an undetermined amount of time.

“It’s here or there,” he told me as we stood in my bedroom in White House unpacking all of my clothes. He was headed to Spring Hill after we finished at my house, and I needed to choose where I was going to stay. Now. 

I looked back and forth between his eyes and the image of my family sitting around the dining table, enjoying a home-cooked meal together. My puppy jumped up on my legs, seemingly begging me to stay. 

The thought of being without him sent chills to my bones, hitting nerves that made me feel nauseous and lightheaded. I grabbed my backpack, double-checking that I had all of my school supplies to finish out the school year at his house.

I nodded at him that we would go to his house, all the while telling him that I wouldn’t survive at my house without him. 

A couple months later, he and I sat anxiously beside each other, our hearts heavy because Tennessee is open and school is almost over. I’ll have to go home. 

The first night that we were together, we relished in the excitement that always comes from spending the night together. However, we timidly looked to the days ahead. 

“We have to make sure that we get time apart,” he said, cautiously approaching the issue.

I agreed with him, knowing that our relationship was at the best place it had been since the beginning — following a rough patch — and knowing neither of us wanted to lose that. 

“We also have to make sure that we get quality time together,” I said, wary of becoming too comfortable always being around each other.

He agreed, acknowledging that it would be easy to fall into a routine that would keep us from nourishing our relationship. 

Over the few weeks spent together, we formed habits that allowed us to hold these values in place. One of the best things for us was sticking to a school schedule. 

We decided to be “in class” Monday through Friday to build alone time into our schedule. Fifteen hours a week, beginning at 8 a.m. every day, I could be found upstairs in the loft, sitting at a table with a mug of coffee clutched in my hand. During his classes, he was downstairs at the kitchen table, his books and notes spread out in front of him. 

Homework was harder to manage, however. It’s so easy to drift toward his echoing voice, so most of the time we did our homework together. We became comfortable with the silence that settled between us as we sat on opposite ends of the couch with our legs intertwined, flipping through the pages of our textbooks. 

We stayed apart during the week, working out at straddled times in the mornings and going to bed one after the other. We both looked forward to Friday afternoon when we could start winding down and truly enjoying each other’s presence. 

Friday is ice cream and movie day. So is Saturday. And sometimes Sunday. 

In the absence of date night, we’ve reverted to indulging in scoops of our favorite ice cream flavors while we watch the movies that have been living on our shared list for months.

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We sleep in together on Saturday and Sunday, letting our stress subside for a few hours until it washes over us again. Then, it starts all over again on Monday morning. 

Among forming habits, we learned lessons about each other and about our relationship.

First and foremost, we learned that we can in fact live together.  

From the moment we met, we always threw around hopes and daydreams of sharing a place together one day, not having to bring our toothbrushes and changes of clothes to each others’ places. 

But we always decided that was a long-term goal, learning from the mistakes of those who came before us. 

When we were thrown into living together out of necessity, we were frightened. Neither of us were prepared, and we were just coming out of a rough patch in our relationship. The last thing that either of us wanted to do was fuck that up.

Lesson: If you care enough about your significant other and your relationship with them, you can make it work.

He and I wanted so badly not to let anything come between us, and because of that want, nothing was able to come between us. Determination made us push through bumps and bruises to figure out what did and didn’t work.

We also learned there is a balance between caring for each other and caring for ourselves. 

During the couple of months that we lived together, we endured our own coronavirus scare because I had been in contact with someone who had it, high amounts of stress, quite a few anxiety attacks and bouts with our parents about finances. 

Lesson: There are times that your significant other will need you, and there are times that your significant other will need to be by themselves.

Because we were together all the time, everything that we encountered seemed like something that we had to go to the other person for — because they were there. We quickly learned that some things have to be dealt with in solace. 

Just because he was stressed and silent didn’t necessarily mean that he had to tell me everything he was stressed about — sometimes he wanted to think through it for himself. Just because I wanted to go to bed early didn’t mean that he had to come with me — sometimes I just wanted to get some extra rest. 

The coronavirus outbreak that caused Tennessee to lock down happened to be a sprinkle of goodness into our relationship, even though it swept through our lives, quickly wreaking havoc.

We were lucky enough to experience living together without the potential of damage. If things got rough, I could go back home. But I never wanted to, and I still don’t want to. 

Living together made us smarter, healthier, stronger and more in love. We learned that we’re exactly where we need to be when we’re together.

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