At age 11, Julissa Arce came to the United States with a visa that expired three years later. For over ten years she lived as an undocumented immigrant, afraid to reveal her secret to anyone. “Any phone call or email I got from human resources would make my blood clot,” she wrote in her Modern Love essay.
And when it came to love, she lied to almost every man she dated for fear of exposure and deportation.
In today’s episode, we hear about Julissa’s quest for love – and what it taught her about isolation and intimacy. Then we hear from two Modern Love listeners who kept their love alive across borders during the pandemic.
“I’ve played our reunion in my head over and over.”
Greg Cope White is a screenwriter living in Santa Monica, California; his partner, Bob, lives in Montreal. They have been together for almost 15 years.
They were used to spending time apart, usually a month at a time. But when Covid hit and introduced travel restrictions, they had to stay apart for much longer – since January 2020.
To stay connected, they practice a daily ritual that has become their salvation. When it’s 3:30pm for Greg (and 6:30pm for Bob), they’ll have an elaborate “Live Skype cooking show.” They spend the next few hours helping each other cook, enjoy the meal, watch a movie on the shared screen, and catch up. They haven’t missed a day since the start of the pandemic.
“I was stuck in the United States, and he in Spain.”
Was it love at first sight? Probably. Valentina Marinovich and Rafael Pavón De Gregorio met at a zebra crossing in New York City about four years ago. She is from Chile; he is from Spain.
After maintaining a long-distance relationship, they were finally ready to move in together in early 2020. Then the pandemic hit.
Valentina, who studied in New York City, returned to Chile while Rafael was in Spain. The two decided to get married so that Rafael would be allowed to enter Chile through the country’s exceptions.
Since they were not yet in the same country, Valentina had a proxy marriage with an acquaintance who represented Rafael. “We got married in this small office while my boyfriend was at the dentist,” Valentina said. “I’m not going to say it was romantic because it wasn’t.”
In October 2020, Valentina and Rafael were able to reunite in Santiago, Chile. She arrived early waiting at the airport. “It all came back to me — the smell, the feel of his beard against my cheeks,” she said.