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Nick entered my orbit, as is custom these days, via an algorithm. From the start there was an easy rapport between us, a light-heartedness that for me at least, came from a deliberate lack of emotional investment. Following months of lockdown, I had thrown myself at the Melbourne summer and was on a social high. I felt close to my two children and was enjoying the sense that I had regained some control over my life. Plus, I was busy. The kind of busy that didn’t accommodate a serious relationship.

Luckily, Nick seemed similarly casual. In between trading facts about our lives, we joked that if we did ever meet it would probably be terrible, a total bin fire, essentially giving each other permission to walk away with no hard feelings. We chatted online for days and then weeks, hinting at meeting but never locking down a date; he was away and then I was, I had the kids, he had plans.

Our joke about the bin fire started to feel like a premonition and I was tempted to ghost him several times. I owed him nothing, I reasoned, and while he seemed nice, after so much uncertainty, a part of me couldn’t be bothered. But in the end, our bin fire chat carried a challenge and our curiosity got the better of us. We agreed to meet.

And it wasn’t a bin fire. Far from it. In fact, it was the most comfortable I had felt with a stranger in as long as I could remember.

A friend texted me the next day asking how it went. I wrote back: He’s great. Nothing not to like.

Yet I continued to feel half hearted. It just didn’t seem like the right time to start something new. We kept seeing each other but it felt temporary. I was at peace with it fizzing out as quickly as it had fired up.

Five weeks after our first date my phone exploded with news alerts: the city was heading into a snap lockdown. Across Melbourne there was a palpable collective foreboding. I dreaded the thought of muddling through more home schooling, isolated from family and friends, while running an advertising agency via Microsoft Teams. Amid all the other emotions, I wasn’t sure what it meant for my relationship with Nick. I wondered if this lockdown provided us with an easy full stop.

Hours after the official press conference confirming the lockdown, I opened my front door to discover Nick holding a paper bag that was straining under the weight of its contents. He gestured to it, sheepish. He had chips, he said, stuff to make cocktails, bath bombs and bubble stuff. “I know you love baths,” he trailed off, suddenly unsure.

He shifted the heavy bag to his other hand. I noticed the chips were salt and vinegar, my favourite.

“I wouldn’t mind if this lockdown goes for a bit longer than five days,” he said, quietly.

I picked up the hidden question in his statement and felt an unexpected jolt of clarity. I didn’t want this to be the end, I wanted it to be the start. I smiled and stepped aside, inviting him in.

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‘We’ve certainly ticked off several life milestones in the three years since’: Sarah Bailey, Nick and their son Ripley in Mũi Né, Vietnam in 2023. Photograph: Supplied

The five-day lockdown turned into almost four months of confinement, and our fledgling romance transitioned into a deep connection. Whether the long hours we spent talking about everything and nothing were the reason our bond grew so quickly, we’ll never know. But we’ve certainly ticked off several life milestones in the three years since.

In May last year we had a baby, a son called Ripley. We bought a house together in October and moved in just after Christmas, where we live with our son, my two older children and my cat, who Nick still pretends to find infuriating but secretly adores.

Looking back, I’m glad I fought the temptation to shut Nick out and wait until the world around me was clearer. It turns out that taking a chance on the unknown amid chaos was a very sensible idea.

  • Sarah Bailey is the author of crime thriller Body of Lies, available now through Allen & Unwin (RRP $34.99).


Is there a moment you knew?

Do you have a romantic realisation you’d like to share? From quiet domestic scenes to dramatic revelations, Guardian Australia wants to hear about the moment you knew you were in love. 

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#moment #knew #turned #front #door #salt #vinegar #chips #favourite

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