After months of isolation, Victorians living alone can now form an “individual bubble” with another person to alleviate loneliness.
- The bubble is designed to help Victorians who are locked down alone and connect with another person
- For some, like the divorced couple Anastasia Kazantzidou and Leo Kretzenbacher, deciding who to choose was an easy one
- But other Victorians have faced tough choices as only one person can be in the bubble for the entire lockdown
Half a million Victorians live alone.
As part of the state government’s policy, these sole residents who have romantic relationships have been able to see them under “intimate partner agreements” since the beginning of the pandemic.
But those who don’t have romantic linkages haven’t had the same opportunity to see a boyfriend before.
This was particularly difficult for singles in Melbourne, where a strict lockdown with a radius of 3 miles has meant that many not even friends can walk around town.
“I miss my friends. I miss my social life,” said Anastasia Kazantzidou, a Melbourne woman.
She especially missed her ex-husband Leo Kretzenbacher.
The couple had been married for 20 years and had two children together before divorcing in 2008. They became good friends again about six years ago.
The duo kept their connection during COVID-19 by taking Zoom quiz nights with their friends. However, they don’t have the same competitive advantage unless they work under one roof and work on issues together.
“I miss Leo. He’s my walking encyclopedia,” said Ms. Kazantzidou.
They make it bubble official on Monday.
“I love to cook and Leo loves to eat what I cook, so we will have a nice dinner together,” said Ms. Kazantzidou.
“And maybe zoom in at the same time as our kids.”
“Mama would kill me if I didn’t choose her”
Not everyone finds it easy to form the perfect bubble.
State politics are complicated and create difficult choices and frustrations for some Victorians.
You can’t pick another household to gush with. So, if your chosen bubble lives with others, they will need to be home alone when you visit their home.
This means that some families have to choose between grandparents. And adult children can still only see one of their parents, even if they live together.
Melbourne teacher Cyrus Wong is in this plight. He went with mom.
“I’m the only one of her children in Melbourne so I think if I didn’t choose her she would probably kill me,” said Wong.
For some, the question is not who to choose, but if there is someone they can even suck with.
Diana Hesse moved to the regional Victorian town of Ballarat a few weeks before the state’s second lockdown in July. She has been home alone for the past two months.
“It was a challenge. I’m a pretty positive person, but it was a roller coaster ride,” said Ms. Hesse.
Ms. Hesse has a family about 90 minutes away in Melbourne, but bubble policy does not allow regional Victorians and Melburnians to bubble together. This is because COVID-19 cases are much lower in regional Victoria.
Because she is new to town, Ms. Hesse doesn’t know anyone in Ballarat well enough to ask if she is her bladder.
In order not to be put off, Ms. Hesse placed an ad on social media.
“Ultimately, my goal is to find someone to share the bladder with and visit and relax at home with,” she said.
“Because there is nothing better than a conversation over dinner.”
But Ms. Hesse has to make her choice carefully. The policy says that once you choose your Bubble Mate it must be the same person for the rest of the state’s lockdown.
To make sure she doesn’t pick someone who isn’t right for her, Ms. Hesse goes for a walk and has coffee with potential bubbles to take away before deciding on a choice.
“Everyone wants to be with someone, and so do I,” said Ms. Hesse.
“I’m not a homebody and I’m not interested in discussing curtains and cleaning. I like to discuss books, travel, art and people’s life experiences.”
But she doesn’t want to turn a bubble into an intimate partner arrangement.
“I’ve had my share of romance in my life.”
Would you choose a connection earlier than your bladder?
Resident Andi Egan also had a fair share of romance.
The Melbourne actor was “badly fired” right at the start of the pandemic.
“I couldn’t even go out with my girlfriends and get over him. But it’s been very nice to think about since then,” said Ms. Egan.
And she had a lot of time alone for that. Because Ms. Egan has an autoimmune disease, she had to be extra careful with social distancing during the COVID-19.
Ms. Egan initially found the bubble policy “quite depressing” because of all of her reservations.
And because she doesn’t want to bubble up with someone living with others – because of their added risk of exposure to the virus – it has ruled out most of her friends who live in stock houses.
But this week Ms. Egan received a bubble request from another lone resident.
“I received a message from a man I saw in the pub on occasion and with whom I occasionally met,” she said.
“I don’t know his last name. I know what he does for work. And he’s very pleasant. We get along great.
“We will give it a try. See how we get along. Once again.”