Love in the time of COVID-19: Roller-skating couple marry amid pandemic
TORONTO -- Marcia Leeder had big plans for 2020.
“I was going to go on the road in an RV, take my animals, I was going to travel around and meet people,” she tells CTV News Toronto. “And also, I was going to get back into roller skating every week.”
Like so many others, plans changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. But before that happened, the Toronto woman did manage to get out roller-skating.
“I went back on Jan 11, and I was skating along. Then I slipped and I fell on the floor,” Leeder laughs, turning to her partner Dorian Chavarria Chaves. “I tripped this guy right here, he went flying, and that’s how we met!”
Chavarria Chaves' first reaction when he saw Leeder? “Bonita!” he says.
The two connected on social media, and by February they were dating.
“He’s so wonderful to be around and he makes me smile and gives such wonderful energy,” Leeder said. “And I just said, okay! I just gave in!”
Their relationship came with a unique challenge – a language barrier. Chavarria Chaves moved to Toronto from Costa Rica and speaks only Spanish.
“It has its challenges but it just teaches us patience and just different ways of communicating with each other,” Leeder said.
“I think it’s actually easier now because we have our phones with us all the time. We can use google translate, when it works anyway, sometimes it doesn’t work and it’s hilarious. And we’re both learning each other’s languages.”
In March, when the pandemic began, Leeder and Chavarria Chaves chose to quarantine together.
“We decided to move in together, which was pretty soon in our relationship,” Leeder said. “But it just seemed right and also a very good test to see if we could get along in such close quarters.”
Through April and May, the two realized they did not want to be apart, and set a wedding date.
“We got married on May 26th in our backyard,” Leeder said. “Not a lot of people knew that we were getting married, so we surprised a lot of people.”
After the ceremony, Leeder and Chavarria Chaves put on their roller skates and went for a skate down the street.
Chavarria Chaves told CTV News Toronto that marrying Leeder was “amazing,” and Leeder says the couple has received a lot of love since sharing their news.
“We’re happy to spread some more joy around,” she said.
The newlyweds hope their story of love in the time of COVID-19 inspires others to “live in the present.”
Next steps for them include taking that RV trip and, when it’s safe, a visit to Costa Rica to celebrate with Chavarria Chaves' family.
“Love conquers all,” Leeder said, when asked what she wants people to know about their story. “It’s going to find you, whatever is going on in the world or not.”