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The thought of Valentine’s Day evokes images of date nights and extravagant romantic gestures. With limited restaurant capacities, travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, couples are facing new obstacles in spending time together.
The Daily Orange spoke with three Syracuse University couples to learn how they spent Valentine’s Day, and how they’ve kept the spark alive despite the pandemic.
Kyle Chi and Mara Baker
SU freshman Mara Baker, from Toronto, will be experiencing her first Valentine’s Day in the United States this year. This is also her first Valentine’s Day with her boyfriend, fellow freshman Kyle Chi, who is from Massachusetts.
However, making plans has been difficult because of COVID-19. The two met over their class’ Facebook group and began dating in December, while they were separated by the U.S.-Canadian border lockdown.
Since returning to campus this month, the two have found it challenging to spend time with each other while following public health guidelines. Chi lives in Brewster Hall while Baker lives in Flint Hall, making it tough to see one another. But for their Valentine’s Day dinner, they went to The Cheesecake Factory at Destiny USA — one of their favorite places to go together.
“This day has been a long time coming,” Chi said. “I can’t wait for the date, but it was tough to find a (dinner) reservation.”
Julia Mance and Jack Bisaillon
Freshman Julia Mance was unable to see her boyfriend this Valentine’s Day, as he lives three hours away in Pine Bush, New York. But they still found a way to celebrate together.
“The distance can be hard, but we make it work,” Mance said. “I would normally have him come visit, but obviously that isn’t possible right now.”
The couple met in high school. Before Mance left for college, they decided to make it work long distance, since they have been together for two years, she said.
With few options to see each other for Valentine’s Day, they planned on having dinner separately while on FaceTime. Mance plans on spending time with her roommate and another friend to take her mind off the fact that she can’t be with Bisaillon in person.
“(FaceTime) is sort of our way of being together without being together,” Mance said.
Elijah Morrison and Rayna Schiering
SU junior Elijah Morrison and sophomore Rayna Schiering only began dating this past August. Their relationship has never existed outside of COVID-19. They’ve never even gone on dates together without masks on. But, despite this, the two credit the successfulness of their relationship to the pandemic.
“If we weren’t at home, and people weren’t mindlessly on social media posting, this probably wouldn’t have gotten to the point we’re at now,” Morrison said.
While Morrison is from Delaware, Schiering is from New York. The couple started messaging over social media during the summer but found that the distance was a challenge when it came to seeing each other over the breaks, with frequent testing and quarantining becoming a necessity.
The couple had to think outside of the box to figure out what they could do together, including a mini-golf date and a walk along the Hudson River.
After arriving back to campus, the two continue to face new obstacles. Schiering, who is a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, isn’t allowed to bring Morrison into her chapter house.
“I always feel so bad because I’m always going to Elijah’s because he can’t come here,” Schiering said. “So, I’m just like, just wait until I’m in my apartment next year and you’ll be able to come over and I’ll be able to cook you dinner and stuff like that.”
Valentine’s Day was also Morrison’s 21st birthday and Schiering made reservations at Grotto, an Italian restaurant in Syracuse, to celebrate.
Because of COVID-19, Morrison and Schiering spend a lot of time inside and avoid hanging out with large groups of people.
“We always have to think outside the box to find out what we actually can do,” Morrison said. “What’s feasible, what’s open, what’s running.”
Published on February 14, 2021 at 10:06 pm