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Dating In Eugene During A Pandemic

Left: Photo courtesy of Ashley Easter | Middle: Melorie Begay /KLCC News | Right: Photo Courtesy of Gallen Pierce-Lackey


Video calls, car dates, and hallway bowling alleys. These are a few ways people in Eugene are dating during the pandemic.

For Ashley Easter dating in a global pandemic sounded hard. She had been online dating since last fall, but things weren't really clicking. 


“So I wrote down a list of all the things I’m looking for in a partner,” she said. 


Meanwhile she’d been talking with a mutual friend, David, and they bonded over song lyrics from one of her favorite bands, Bright Eyes. So, Easter decided to make a move.


Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News
Ashley Easter shows a photo she took with David during a date. They're posing on Corona St. in Portland.

“Essentially, I just sent him a letter and said “hey I think you’re a qualified applicant,” she said.


Now, they video chat all the time, Easter said, sometimes for hours. David lives in Portland and has an underlying health condition, but they were eventually able to meet in-person.


“We got COVID tests before we met up," Easter said. "We talked beforehand almost like you have the safe sex talk, we had the safe COVID practices talk."

Easter said it felt good to get a negetive test back. They spent most of their time togeth in her car driving around Portland talking, they took a walk and got take out. Easter said her experience has been worth while and she's excited about her relationship with David.


“I think something that the pandemic has definitely offered to many folks single or not is to really assess what’s important as far as how you spend your time and how you maintain your relationships,” she said.

Dating amid a pandemic can no doubt be challenging, but what if you met someone right as the pandemic started? That’s what happened to Tacey Kribs and Aaron Dietrich. They met in mid-March.


"That was, I would say the same day that the pandemic started to get a hold in Oregon,” said Kribs.


“In fact," Dietrich added, "the day before that was the day that Tom Hanks got COVID, and the NBA just shut down on Wednesday March 11th...everything just came to a halt, but the next day I had a date with someone.” That someone, was Kribs of course.


Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News
Tracey Kribs and Aaron Dietrich met right at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Kribs and Dietrich went on two more dates in a row after the first. But then the pandemic made working from home and “bubbles” a thing, and they had to make a choice. Dietrich and Kribs both have children, which was another factor to consider when they decided who was in their "bubble."



“Do we keep seeing each other?" Kribs said."This is like a brand new thing, we don’t know if it’s going anywhere, or do we go ahead and keep seeing each other because we liked each other, and we did.” 

What followed next were dates to the grocery store, watching movies and tv shows, cooking, and re-living one of their first dates.


“The indoor bowling alley,” Kribs said.


"At both of our places we actually both had indoor bowling alleys," Dietrich said. 


Dietrich bought a set of foam bowling pins and a foam bowling ball and Kribs said they lined the hallway with lights and she even learned how to track scores.


Kribs and Dietrich said dating during a pandemic meant they got to know each other faster and without distraction, something that they described as instense.


They’ve been together for almost a year and haven't done most things couples typically do, like traveling far away or going to big family gatherings, but they are riding out a global pandemic together.


For Gallen Pierce-Lackey and his wife, who have two kids, the pandemic has been stressful. He says it helps that despite everything, he loves his family.


“It’s been confirmed that we can get through literally anything, you know. Especially, for those of us in Oregon dealing with fires and all of that," he said. "We can get through a border-line apocalypse.”

Credit Courtesy of Gallen Pierce-Lackey
Gallen Pierce-Lackey and his family in a 2019 photo.

The couple started homeschooling their children and like a lot of families they’re spending a lot of time together. But every now and then he and his wife still find time to have a night out together.


“So our dates have turned a little interesting, I guess because we can’t anywhere inside, he said. "Eating food in a car sounds sad, but we’ve made it fun.”

He said they typically talk or listen to music, like Justin Bieber or whatever happens to be on. He adds they like to joke about their sitution while also expressing graditude for both owning a car and just being near each other.


Pierce-Lackey said he feels lucky to have his family closby when so many people are apart because of the pandemic, even if it’s not always pretty.


“We’ve had moments of struggle and there’s been times that it's been really frustrating and painful, and we’ve fought when we shouldn’t have, or wouldn’t have normally, or disagreed about the dumbest thing..but yeah, whatever the next thing is it probably won’t be as bad as this," he said with a chuckle.


Copyright 2021 KLCC

WEB EXTRA: A COVID Valentine's Playlist

In the spirit of the holiday, I put together a playlist featuring music that aired in the Feb. 14 broadcast version of the story along with some other songs I hope you'll like. Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!




Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.