James Goodrich and his husband, Jason Kramer, both 44, moved to Talent, Ore., almost two years ago to work in the costume department of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Together for 17 years and married for six, they lost their jobs in April when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered theaters and live performances.
The loss was like a terrible breakup, Jason said. Uncertain about the future, the couple tried to cling to normalcy by making a daily schedule — Jason, who likes to go food shopping, was the only person who left the house.
“The pandemic made us more resilient,” Jason said. “We realized we had each other and needed to rely on ourselves, which was really kind of daunting.”
The couple were relying on savings and a small side business when, five months later, the Almeda wildfire destroyed their home and much of their town. They fled with their passports, marriage license, a few personal items and their dog.
“If Covid hadn’t happened and we had this fire, we would have a safe place to go, and there wouldn’t be as many complications,” Jason said. “But Covid has complicated it. We can’t interact with my parents. We can’t hug or be near people as much. Covid is making it difficult to move on.”
Now, life is a game of trial and error. Surviving a pandemic and a wildfire has made them more honest with each other, and more forgiving of mistakes.
“I may forget something at the store but, honestly, our house is burned down,” Jason said. “There are bigger fish to fry.”